Shane Archbold is pinning his hopes on a fifth placing in the men's omnium at the track cycling world championships last night guaranteeing his selection for the London Olympics.
Archbold could not replicate his silver medal-winning exploits in Holland last year but did complete the multi-disciplined event strongly to end up nine points shy of third-placed Dane Lasse Hansen.
A substandard performance in the points race on Thursday - his glaring weakness in the six-stage mixture of sprint and endurance tests - effectively dashed his medal chances but he was encouraged by his efforts in yesterday's scratch race and kilo time trial, where he finished third and fourth respectively.
Sixth - and a half dozen shy of the bronze medal position at the midway point - Archbold's individual pursuit time was also below expectation before he rallied at the Hisense Arena.
He was one of five riders to benefit by gaining a lap on the field - a break he instigated - in the 15km scratch race but ironically the point's differential to third place still ballooned from 10 to 12 points when Hansen won.
Australia's Glenn O'Shea won gold from Zach Bell (Canada) but the Timaru native still pressed his claims before the eight-man track team for London is finalised by BikeNZ.
After the team sprint won bronze and Simon Van Velthooven did likewise in the kilo, the versatile Archbold became vulnerable but his performance may be enough to participate in the omnium's Olympic debut.
Archbold acknowledges his deficiencies, knowing his 16th place in the points race was unacceptable.
"It's not one of my strengths. I've been suffering in it over the past 12 months since last year's worlds," he admitted.
"The top four guys are really close and going really strongly so obviously the points race let me down."
"I'm going as hard as I can and I'm not winning so something's going wrong."
Archbold's coach Stu MacDonald is working on boosting his performance in an event which sabotaged his title hopes.
Thankfully the scratch race proved a fix was possible.
"Last year I got 10th and maybe it cost me the world title so to get third, I'm very happy," he said.
Archbold also recorded a personal best in the flying lap and his kilo time was almost unprecedented.
He heads to Europe in 10 days where he links up with the exotically named Marco Polo team - an Ethiopian-backed outfit based in Belgium.
Meanwhile, in the women's omnium endurance specialist Joanne Kiesanowski made a predictably slow start in the flying lap but improved five places to 11th in the 24-strong field in the points race where she won one of the eight sprints.
She also thrived in the elimination race where the slowest racer is dropped each lap, finishing sixth to improve to eighth before the individual pursuit, scratch race and unfavourable time trial are staged today.
Earlier yesterday New Zealand's speedsters underlined their promise when three of the four combatants in the men's sprint recorded personal bests in qualifying.
Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Matt Archibald all set new standards in the 200-metre time trial; Dawkins then advanced to the quarterfinals where he was overpowered by Great Britain's reigning world champion Jason Kenny before bowing out in a repechage.
Mitchell drew the legendary Sir Chris Hoy in the round of 16 and unnerved Great Britain's four-time Olympic gold medallist when he sped off early in the three-lap match race.
Hoy eventually prevailed then Sam Webster pushed Kenny to the line before the Englishman crossed with centimetres to spare.
In the 10km scratch race Gemma Dudley found the pace too hot and finished second last.
The women's ominium concludes today while New Zealanders are also involved in the men's individual pursuit, points race and the women's keirin.
- © Fairfax NZ News