Southland cyclist wins first track nationals title

ON TITLE TRACK: Southland's Stephanie McKenzie claimed the women's 250m time trial title by eight hundredths of a second from Otago's Katie Schofield.
ON TITLE TRACK: Southland's Stephanie McKenzie claimed the women's 250m time trial title by eight hundredths of a second from Otago's Katie Schofield.

Southland sprinter Stephanie McKenzie took out the first title of the Elite and Under 19 Track Cycling Championships at the Avantidrome in Cambridge, winning the 250m time trial today.

McKenzie finished the race in 19.643 seconds, eight hundredths of a second ahead of Otago sprinter and fellow BikeNZ elite cyclist Katie Schofield.

The event is used to gauge the starting lap of the sprint riders by BikeNZ, and McKenzie said she was thrilled with the performance.

"Katie has been a bit faster than me in the build-up, so I was not really coming in wanting to win it. I mean, I wanted to win it, but I definitely didn't expect it.

"I'd been feeling pretty flat during the week, so I came in taking it as it comes. It was pretty surprising."

Auckland's Paige Paterson was third in 20.167s.

World champion team sprinter Ethan Mitchell has underlined his starting ability with victory in the 250m time trial.

Mitchell put in a blistering time of 17.547 seconds to win gold at the Avantidrome in Cambridge, ahead of Southland's Matthew Archibald and Auckland team-mate Sam Webster more than half a second back.

Mitchell was by far the fastest out of the gate and was already up by half a second at the midway point.

Archibald came home in 18.044s, while Webster finished in 18.085s.

"To come here in front of the home crowd, and put on a performance and get up on top of the podium, it's part of my goal,'' Mitchell said.

"It's my event. I shouldn't be starting the team sprint if I'm not winning that event, so to go out there and prove myself and see that I've still got some legs is a good thing."

Mitchell said he is looking forward to racing on Sunday, when he will get to wear the rainbow jersey for the first time after winning the team sprint at the world championships.

He'll be racing alongside Webster, and will likely come up against Southlander Eddie Dawkins in a rainbow jersey.

Before then he will race on each day of the champs, in the individual sprints and the keirin.

The men's and women's sprinters will be back on track tonight, racing in the 1000m and 500m time trials respectively.

Meanwhile, world championship bronze medalist Marc Ryan will not medal in the individual pursuit at the national championships, after finishing fifth in qualifying.

Ryan hadn't mounted a bike since the world championships, but finished the event in 4 minutes, 28.869 seconds.

Mid-South Canterbury's Dylan Kennett will ride for gold tonight against Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Patrick Bevin, while Aaron Gate will race fellow Aucklander Myron Simpson for bronze.

In the women's individual pursuit, Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Jaime Nielsen will race Mid-South Canterbury's Lauren Ellis for gold, while Wai-Bop's Rushlee Buchanan and Auckland's Georgia Williams contest bronze.

Waikato Times