Van Velthooven sets bar higher

Olympic medallist Simon Van Velthooven dug deep to break his New Zealand record on the opening night of finals at the BikeNZ National Track Cycling Championships in Invercargill.

The keirin bronze medallist clocked a stunning 1min 00.973sec to claim the 1000m time trial on a super-slick Stadium Southland Velodrome last night.

Fellow Olympian Eddie Dawkins set the standard with a strong 1min 01.543sec before Van Velthooven responded to become the first rider to go under the 1:01 mark in this country, only fractionally under the time he set in winning the bronze medal at the world championships last year.

Riding for the Auckland centre, Van Velthooven said he was delighted with his effort given he has been racing solidly since the Olympics.

"It has been about managing the form really. On the bike I feel great but off it I am so tired," Van Velthooven said.

"I said tonight that I would love to go 1:00.99 so I went a bit quicker. Dawk set the standard and I had to dig pretty deep to beat it.

"My goal is to go under the minute mark which I want to do at next year's world championships at altitude in Colombia."

Fellow Olympians Aaron Gate and Jaime Nielsen claimed titles in the individual pursuit in excellent performances, while Otago sprinter Katie Schofield made her mark with two victories in the 250m standing lap and the 500m time trial, establishing a national record in the process.

Gate (Auckland) took out the men's 4000m individual pursuit in a slick 4min 22.076sec, backing up from a personal best of 4min 21.66sec in morning qualifying.

He almost caught young Christchurch hope Michael Vink, the overall winner of the 2012 national road championship, in an impressive performance.

Gate, 22, who won the bronze medal in the team pursuit at the Olympics, was racing in his first track event since London.

Fellow Aucklander Myron Simpson produced a strong performance to come from behind to claim the bronze over Southland and former Marlborough rider Cameron Karwowski.

Nielsen, 27, grabbed her first national individual pursuit title, with world champion Alison Shanks missing with injury.

She dominated the final against outstanding Auckland teenager Georgia Williams, clocking 3min 35.268sec following on from her 3min 34.410sec in qualifying.

Earlier in the day Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) and Schofield won the first title in the 250m time-trial.

Mitchell, the key starter for New Zealand's team sprint, claimed back his own New Zealand record in a time of 17.325sec ahead of Southland riders Matt Archibald with 17.578sec and Dawkins with 17.917sec.

Schofield also broke her own New Zealand record of 19.595sec to secure a gold medal in the elite women's 250m time trial in a time of 19.326sec.

She came back in the evening to upset national champion and New Zealand holder Natasha Hansen (Southland) in the 500m time-trial.

The championships continue until Sunday with Marlborough's Quinn Karwowski and Callum Saunders competing in the under-19 age group.

The Marlborough Express