Vink eyes track as pathway to Olympics

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013
Michael Vink
MARTIN DE RUYTER/Fairfax NZ
VICTOR: Michael Vink crosses the tour's finish line in Nelson.

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New Zealand's best young road rider has set his sights on the track for the Rio Olympics in three years' time.

Christchurch's Michael Vink trialled with the BikeNZ men's endurance programme last month and will be pushing his claims at next week's national elite track championships in Invercargill.

Vink and his coach, Terry Gyde, had approached BikeNZ about exploring a place in the track team and New Zealand head coach Dayle Cheatley is excited about the 21-year-old's potential.

"We've been chatting to them since before Christmas. Michael has expressed an interest in getting back on a track bike and seeing what he can do after a couple of years away from track cycling.

"He's really motivated to get into the men's endurance squad and set a pathway through to Rio," Cheatley said.

"Obviously I was pretty excited about that and I'm trying to give him as much support as possible. He's coming to track nationals to put his hand up."

On the road, Vink has won the national under-23 time trial three times in the past four years and has been the under-20 road champion twice. He won the elite road race outright in 2012 and was runner-up in the under-23 category earlier this month and seventh overall in a quality field.

Vink competed at the 2008 junior world track championships in Cape Town, winning a bronze medal, and was a New Zealand record-holder at under-19 level in the individual and teams pursuit.

"Michael was a great track rider," Cheatley said. "He was a great individual pursuiter and obviously really handy in bunch racing. If he wants to come back to the track, I welcome him."

Cheatley has also been working with Olympic road representative Linda Villumsen, who was fourth in the time trial and 18th in the road race in London, at the Stadium Southland velodrome, although not with a definite switch to the boards in mind.

"Linda is an interesting one. I had her on the track in Invercargill just prior to [the] road nationals and that was merely to see whether anything we could do on the track would help her individual time-trialling. Obviously she came out at the road nationals and dominated that time trial . . . so it didn't do her any harm."

New Zealand's pursuit teams will change shape over the next couple of years.

Sam Bewley and Jesse Sergent, members of the bronze medal-winning team in London, are both committed to pursuing road careers for the next couple of years.

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- The Southland Times

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