Kiwi sprinters light up the Glasgow velodrome

NATHAN BURDON IN GLASGOW
Last updated 02:17 25/07/2014
Eddie Dawkins
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

SPEED MACHINE: Eddie Dawkins was the second-fastest during men's sprint qualifying and beat Englishman Jason Kenny to reach the quarterfinals.

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There was excitement and disappointment for the New Zealand track cycling team after the opening session of the Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand advanced three riders to the final eight of the men's sprint, which will be contested tomorrow, but the best the men's team pursuit can do is bronze after qualifying third fastest.

Men's sprint coach Anthony Peden was rapt at the way his charges performed at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome with Eddie Dawkins, 2010 bronze medallist Sam Webster and Matt Archibald all getting through the first round without having to go to the repechages.

Dawkins and Webster both bettered the Commonwealth Games record during qualifying, although it was Australian Matthew Glaetzer who had the fastest time.

''I"m very pleased actually - to have three riders in the top five and all through to the quarterfinals tomorrow without having to go through repechages before the team sprint tonight,'' Peden said.

''We broke the Commonwealth record twice - unfortunately we couldn't hold onto it but the guys are in great form.''

The New Zealand sprinters had carried on from what they had been doing in training, Peden said.

''There was no suprises today. We knew exactly what we were going to get coming into here. I thought there might have been a bit more depth out of the British area, but I'm very pleased. ''There's no certainties in this world but we've certainly prepared, trained hard the last seven weeks away. I can't ask any more of the boys and they are confident.''

After qualifying second fastest behind Glaetzer, Dawkins was drawn against Olympic champion Jason Kenny, of England, but he looked supremely confident in their match sprint, winning by a handy margin in the end.

''A great confidence boost,'' Peden said of Dawkins' victory.

''I said to the boys last night [that] it's going to be a fantastic competition this over the next four days and everyone we are up against has either been a world champion or an Olympic champion,'' he said.

''Obviously Matt Glaetzer is the form rider with a 9.779, that's a phenomenal ride, I mean so is Eddie's 9.8, don't get me wrong. They look good and we'll see what sort of damage they can do tonight in the team sprint. Awang just did a classy bike ride, it was very classy and at this level it's so close, we are splitting 100ths, maybe a maximum of a 10th of a second between the top riders.''

Australian Peter Lewis was the first to go under the mark of 10.058sec for the flying 200m qualifier set by his compatriot Shane Perkins in Delhi four years ago.

Webster produced a sea-level personal best of 9.933sec to better Lewis' record.

Archibald threatened to also go sub-10sec with a 10.055, before Dawkins leapt to the top of the standings with a new Games record 9.818sec, the best time ever by a New Zealander at sea-level.

Glaetzer, the 21-year-old dubbed the future of Australian cycling, then went one better with a 9.779sec ride, the fourth rider on the night to go inside Perkins' old mark.

In contrast, the team pursuit was disappointing with New Zealand having to settle for a bronze medal ride off against Canada at 4.36am NZ time after failing to break the four minute barrier and finishing more than five seconds slower than their best time.

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New Zealand had built a lead against previous fastest qualifier England before Dylan Kennett was the first rider to drop off, but then the remaining three of Pieter Bulling, Marc Ryan and Shane Archbold lost their cohesion and their advantage.

''We came here looking for a gold medal ride off this time,'' BikeNZ head coach Dayle Cheatley said.

''After the three km we were in the hunt and looking real good, but the last four laps took their toll on us.''

The plan had been for Kennett to last the full 4km race, but he was unable to get back on after taking a big turn on the front.

Then Marc Ryan, after a couple of big laps, just missed his chance of getting back into the train.

Top qualifiers Australia will take on England in the gold medal ride, while New Zealand will be a heavy favourite for the bronze against a Canadian team which qualified almost 14sec slower than them.

''It would have been nice to ride for a gold medal, but we are going for bronze,'' Cheatley said.

''We'll go out with a similar race plan as what we set up for this morning and hopefully just do that last kilometre a little bit better.''

The day's second session will see the world champion New Zealand men's team sprint in action, as well as the team pursuit bronze medal rideoff and Steph McKenzie in the women's 500m time trial.

- Stuff

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