Rainbow jersey on hold for Rhino

LOOKING STRONG: Simon van Velthooven.
LOOKING STRONG: Simon van Velthooven.

Mike McRedmond is certain Manawatu's Simon van Velthooven will win a gold medal and rainbow jersey at the world championships one day.

That was despite the man nicknamed Rhino dipping out in his specialist event, the keirin, at the 2013 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, Belarus on Saturday.

Many of the best track riders take years to drape gold around their necks.

Van Velthooven has ridden at three world championships for a silver in the kilo time trial on Thursday and a bronze at Melbourne last year. But next year's champs in Colombia won't be any easier because the top riders will be chasing world-record times at high altitude.

Van Velthooven, 24, finished 10th in his specialist event, the keirin on Saturday, the event in which he won his London Olympics bronze.

He got as far as the last eight in the sprint, an event he seldom rides.

He qualified 11th fastest in the sprint before beating Australian Andrew Taylor and Great Britain's Matthew Crampton in the first two rounds.

However, he was beaten by Germany's Stefan Botticher in the deciding third ride of the quarterfinals.

"On the world stage it is a very commendable effort," McRedmond, his Palmerston North coach, said.

"He has had a really long season and there were a few signs of tiredness there. He will be looking forward to having a good rest."

He will get more than a month off before taking up his new two-year contract with the Japanese keirin school in early April.

It was also possible that the exertion of chasing the gold in the 1000m time trial on Thursday might have taken something out of the 92kg rider.

"He is really fit," said McRedmond.

He felt the two keirin semifinals presented the closest racing for some time.

"It was really tight, real hard-out racing."

Any of the six riders in each race had been capable of getting through to the final.

Van Velthooven won his heat and in the semifinal he hit the front at the bell lap on the 250-metre track.

"He is a powerhouse; he likes to go to the front and I thought he employed the right tactics," McRedmond said.

Unfortunately for van Velthooven, three other riders rolled around him on the front straight, he missed a wheel when the pace went on in the thrust for the line and he finished fourth, just pipped for the last spot for the final in a photo finish. He then went into the ride-off for places seven to 12.

Twenty-two-year old rookie Kiwi Aaron Gate had an agonising wait before being crowned world omnium champion at Minsk.

Gate won the six-discipline, winning two of the three events and beating defending world champion Glenn O'Shea (Australia) and Olympic champion Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark).

Gate had a 10-minute wait for a re-ride by O'Shea who suffered a mechanical issue with his bike but the Australian could not match the time.

Manawatu Standard