Gold elusive for Kiwis at junior track champs
New Zealand's quest for a rainbow jersey will continue today after gold again proved elusive at the world junior track championships in Invercargill last night.
The BikeNZ junior squad hasn't won a world title since a Sam Webster-inspired squad secured three gold medals in Moscow three years ago, although Sophie Williamson went within a tyre width of grabbing one last night.
Even then it was the strains of Advance Australia Fair again bouncing around the rafters at the Stadium Southland velodrome.
New Zealand has won seven world titles in total, dating back to the world championships in Munich in 1976.
Auckland's Paige Paterson, the fastest qualifier in the women's sprint, saw her ambitions crack against the iron will of Australian first year junior Caitlin Ward at the semifinal stage.
Ward knocked over the New Zealander in two heats to leave her taking on Jennifer Valente for the bronze medal.
New Zealand has banked six silver medals and a bronze in Invercargill, closing in on the record 10 gongs (six bronze, four silver) secured in Moscow last year.
Alexandra's Williamson made most of the running in the women's 7.5km scratch race, but for the second night in a row found little enthusiasm amongst the other riders to break the race up.
Defending champion Valente, from the United States, seemed to have done a superb job backing up from the sprint competition to defend her title as Williamson went desperately close to rolling Australia's Georgia Baker on the line.
However, just as the podium presentation was about to take place, the announcement came through that Valente had been relegated for altering her line in the final 200m of the race.
Baker was promoted to gold and Williamson to silver, the pair separated by a photo-finish, while Belgium's Shana Dalving had to be called back from her team's hotel to collect her bronze medal after initially placing fourth.
Williamson, who will ride a tour in Timaru next week as she builds up to the world junior road championships in the Netherlands next month, said there was little she could have changed about her ride.
"I was pretty gutted, no-one was really that committed to come with me. I think Georgia might have if she didn't crash but I just tried to get the most out of it with the end sprint," Williamson said.
"I hesitated a little bit and you can't hesitate in a short race like that, that cost me a bit, but I'm happy with the result in the end."
It was a tough night for Valente, who won gold and bronze in Moscow last year. She had gold taken from her in the scratch race and then lost to Paterson in the bronze medal ride-off later in the night.
All three New Zealand men's sprinters turned in significant personal bests during their afternoon qualifying rounds.
Auckland's Zac Williams started the best of the Kiwis, qualifying fifth fastest with a 10.588.
Invercargill riders Tom Beadle and Jeremy Presbury were eighth and 13th respectively.
Beadle and Williams advanced through the next round successfully, before meeting in the third round, where Beadle upset the Aucklander to advance to the final eight where he was bundled out by Australia's Zachary Shaw.
Beadle won the consolation final by 0.002sec to claim fifth overall.
Colombia's Fernando Rendon Gaviria was a popular winner of the men's omnium, celebrating his win with a wheelie.
Canterbury's Tayla Harrison was seventh overall.
Women's 7.5km scratch race: Georgia Baker (Aus) 1; Sophie Williamson (NZ) 2; Shana Dalving (Bel) 3.
Women's sprint: Daria Schmeleva (Rus) 1; Caitlin Ward (Aus) 2; Paige Paterson (NZ) 3.
Men's omnium: Fernando Rendon Gaviria (Col) 1; Jon Dibben (GBR) 2; Tirian McManus (Aus) 3.