Olympic bronze medallist Aaron Gate is in medal contention after the first day of the omnium at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
Gate, riding in his first major omnium, is in third place after three rounds behind defending world champion Glenn O'Shea (AUS) and Olympic champion Lasse Norman Hansen (NOR).
Coach Dayle Cheatley was delighted with the first-up effort from Gate.
"I thought for his first ever omnium, the first day was fantastic really. We will be looking for another solid day tomorrow.
"Aaron came to the nationals two weeks ago with really good bunch form. Since then we've focussed on the timed events. We've nailed the execution of the flying lap and did a lot of technique work and it paid off tonight.
"The plan tomorrow is to execute a PB in the individual pursuit and we will need to re-evaluate from their in terms of the tactics for the scratch race.
"He was very aggressively in the points race and he came out swinging again in the elimination. His tactics of going on the attack rather than playing defence has paid off for him."
It was not such good news for fellow Olympic medallist Simon Van Velthooven who had to settle for 10th place in the keirin, where he won his bronze medal in London.
Van Velthooven impressed in winning his first round match where he rode powerfully from the front. He missed a wheel when the pace went on in the semi-final and in thrust for the line, just missed out for the last spot for the final in a photo finish.
He settled for third place in the ride-off for places seven to 12 with with Great Britain's Olympic sprint gold medallist Jason Kenny taking the keirin world title.
Earlier, Eddie Dawkins was fourth in the first round of the keirin and did not go through after placing third in his repechage.
Gate is noted for his aggressive track riding but surprised in taking out the opening event of the six-discipline omnium, the 250m flying lap. The Aucklander, with no omnium to his credit, was the first of the 19 starters but his time of 13.109 proved the fastest ahead of Hansen and O'Shea.
After riding aggressively in the early stages of the points race, Gate found himself over-geared for the unusually stop-start nature of the race.
He fought back strongly with a forceful ride to finish second in the spectacular elimination race, where the last rider is removed every two laps.
After today's opening three races, O'Shea leads on seven points, Hansen is second on 10 points and Gate third on 11, with tomorrow's final three races comprising the individual pursuit, scratch race and 1km time trial.
Gate returns to complete the omnium on the penultimate day of competition while Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Van Velthooven compete in the qualifying of the men's sprint.
- © Fairfax NZ News