Riders get chance to pitch for Rio Olympics
Next week's national elite and under-19 track nationals may be the most fiercely contested in New Zealand cycling history, according to BikeNZ head track coach Dayle Cheatley.
"I'm hoping to see a lot of the young riders put their hands up and push the incumbents, and likewise the incumbents to stand up.
"I'm expecting some good racing and some fast racing, particularly in the bunch events," Cheatley said. "We have had a bit of a scaled down track season so riders' track time hasn't been quite where it has been the last couple of years, so some timed events might struggle for world-class times, but definitely in the bunch racing, there is going to be some great racing."
In cycling's post-Olympic landscape, it was up to riders to prove themselves for the campaigns ahead, Cheatley said.
The loss of some key personnel would provide opportunities for others, he said.
"Obviously we've got Jesse Sergent, who is going to be concentrating on the road for the next couple of years, along with Sam Bewley. They haven't ruled [Rio] out altogether and I suppose it's just about the next 12 months to two years liaising with them to see whether they've still got that interest.
"We've also got Westley Gough, Shane Archbold, Aaron Gate - they've all committed for the next four years heading towards Rio.
"We've got a lot of talent, the junior worlds in Invercargill showed that with the likes of Dylan Kennett, who we've already taken through to a World Cup, Hayden McCormick, Hamish Schreurs, Liam Aitcheson, who still has another year in the juniors. There's a lot of talent coming through and a lot of incumbent talent."
The New Zealand men's sprint squad had provided a tasty entree to the national championship, which begins on January 31, with a gold in the team sprint in the Mexico round of the World Cup last weekend.
- The Southland Times