Track cyclists ready to make mark in Glasgow
The New Zealand track cycling squad are looking forward to displaying the gains they've made since February's world championships at this week's Commonwealth Games, according to head coach Dayle Cheatley.
The BikeNZ men's sprint and endurance programmes produced five medals in Cali, Colombia, including a gold medal in the team sprint.
They'll be racing at the 4500-seat Sir Chris Hoy velodrome on a Ralph Shurmann-designed track which has similar long straights and sharp bends to Cali and the Invercargill velodrome they are all so familiar with.
A shoulder injury for team pursuiter Aaron Gate has been the only negative from a solid buildup for the New Zealand team, Cheatley said.
''We've made another step up since the worlds. Obviously we had a setback with Gatey - he's an Olympic medallist and omnium world champion and if that happens it's going to set the team back, but the way the squad has developed as a unit we've still made that step forward from the worlds.''
Shane Archbold will ride the qualifying round in Gate's absence, although Gate is still in the selection mix of a potential medal ride for the world championship bronze medallists in the evening session.
''Novie [Archbold] has really dug hard since the worlds where he missed out on the TP,'' Cheatley said.
''He's taking this opportunity and he's running with it and good on him. He's a strong bike rider and he's doing a good job for us.''
Free of injury, the five strong men's sprint squad will be expected to lead the charge in Glasgow.
''They've put a big block in at Cambridge before they headed over to T-Town to get some good quality racing in there. I think they've stepped up again in Bordeaux and arrived here fit and healthy and ready to go,'' Cheatley said.
''When you are world champions you are always the ones to watch and I think they are up to the task to perform here. It's not a young group anymore, they are actually an experienced group and I think they'll carry that experience over from previous Commonwealth Games, Olympics and world championships.''
Everything the sprinters do now is shaded by the Olympics in two years' time, Cheatley said.
''They've got a target in mind of where they want to be in Rio, as do all the squads, a time and individual places, and they'll be looking to progress towards that,'' he said.
''There's a real core group of quality international riders there all fighting for positions. That's a healthy position to be in, but I think what makes it even more healthy is that they are all working towards the same goal, and they support each other well.''
The final event selections for track cycling at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are:
Team Pursuit: Dylan Kennett, Pieter Bulling, Marc Ryan, Shane Archbold. Reserve: Aaron Gate
Individual Pursuit: Marc Ryan, Dylan Kennett, Patrick Bevin
Scratch: Tom Scully, Dylan Kennett, Shane Archbold
Points: Tom Scully, Aaron Gate, Shane Archbold
Team Sprint: Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins. Reserves: Matt Archibald, Simon van Velthooven
Sprint: Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins, Matt Archibald. Reserves: Simon van Velthooven, Ethan Mitchell
Keirin: Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins, Simon van Velthooven. Reserves: Matt Archibald, Ethan Mitchell
1000m Time Trial: Simon van Velthooven, Matt Archibald
Individual Pursuit: Jamie Nielsen, Lauren Ellis, Georgia Williams
Scratch: Georgia Williams, Lauren Ellis, Rushlee Buchanan
Points: Georgia Williams, Lauren Ellis, Rushlee Buchanan
Sprint: Stephanie McKenzie
500m Time Trial: Stephanie McKenzie