Sprint star Eddie Dawkins still on the rise

CLASS ACT: Southland's Eddie Dawkins in action in Invercargill in November.
CLASS ACT: Southland's Eddie Dawkins in action in Invercargill in November.

Southland track star Eddie Dawkins has been the big mover of the BikeNZ programme during the World Cup series, but there's still plenty of improvement on the horizon .

Dawkins was judged the leading sprinter on the UCI circuit after two fourths and a 10th placing over the three rounds of the programme.

He has also emerged as New Zealand's fastest sprinter, topping the qualifiers at the tier one event in Invercargill and breaking the national record with a 9.907sec effort at the Oceania Championship.

He was again "sub-10" and third fastest overall in Mexico during the final World Cup meet last weekend, eventually losing out to team-mate Sam Webster in the bronze medal ride off.

BikeNZ high performance manager Mark Elliott said Dawkins was gaining rewards for his outstanding worth ethic.

"He would have taken a look at how close we were to a world title last year and he's gone away and worked hard.

"He's a leaner, meaner man and it's making him a particularly fast and powerful guy.

"You take his commitment, and the skillset that we are going to get out of our new track coach Anthony Peden, and we are going to see some big things [from] Eddie in the next couple of months and the next couple of years."

Dawkins, who arrived back in New Zealand from Mexico yesterday is pleased with his consistency despite a series of crashes this season.

"It shows that my recovery and the training we've been doing has been really beneficial. It shows that no matter how many times I get knocked down, I get back up," he said.

Dawkins has moved on from being a specialist 1000m time trial rider, after the "kilo" was taken out of the Olympic programme prior to London.

"I had almost no tactical nous when I was beginning and over the last couple of years my tactics have grown with a lot more international exposure," he said.

"It all comes from the amount of races that you've done. Those that are older and have done more races just react quicker, have better reflexes. I'm still learning, but it's coming along slowly but surely."

Dawkins, 24, has time on his side, with sprinters peaking anywhere from their mid-20s to their mid-30s.

"Hopefully mine is a long peak and it carries on for a couple more Olympic Games," he said.

Elliott said BikeNZ was pleased with its overall World Cup track season.

"The whole objective for us this World Cup series, and it was a new qualifying process, we just wanted to make sure that we nailed qualification for the world champs in our key events.

"We qualified in every event which is important to us, particularly the team sprint and the pursuit programme, but it was nice to get a bit of a bonus with the madison as well."

That madison result in Mexico came off the back of a great ride from Southland's Tom Scully, in his return to international track cycling after a four-year break, and Aucklander Paddy Bevin.

Elliott said Scully, who has a track option built into his contract with British road team Madison-Genesis, had emerged as a Commonwealth Games contender.

"Tom has always been class. We've known that since he was a junior. It was his decision to go down a road career and we shook hands a number of years ago and wished him good luck. We would have loved to have kept him in the track programme, but he had some goals on the road," he said.

"Clearly, when a guy like that, as he did at the Oceanias, can just come out and deal to everyone, it just shows that class is permanent, now he's done it at world level as well, obviously with good support from Paddy. If we can have a guy like that putting his hand up, it just gives us more quality riders to build a base from."

BikeNZ can name about 32 riders for the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow in July, a team which will cover track, road and mountainbiking.

"We've got to look at the overall team and the objectives in that. Obviously our pursuit and sprint programmes are target one because they align right through to the Olympics, but having a guy [with] Tom's expertise, he's certainly putting his hand up for the points [race] etc."

The Commonwealth Games team will be named shortly after the national championships on the new Cambridge velodrome in March.

A squad for next month's world championships should be named later this week.

Fairfax Media