On track: Cyclists set Avantidrome ablaze

BEN STRANG
Last updated 11:33 17/02/2014
MIKE SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

At their new home at the Avantidrome in Cambridge the New Zealand track cycling team have been setting top training times leading to a large contingent heading to the world champs in Cali, Colombia.

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Dayle Cheatley has found his job harder but better than ever leading into the UCI Track Cycling World Championships this month.

New Zealand cyclists have been setting top times in training and competition leading into the event, making it hard to pick a final group to travel to Cali, Colombia.

However, Cheatley said that's a good thing, and it has resulted in one of the biggest New Zealand teams taken to a World Championship event.

Selecting the final combinations for the event itself will be an even harder prospect, though.

"They've really come up over the last couple of weeks in that final phase, and we're looking forward to heading away," Cheatley said.

"To be fair it was hard this year, which is why we've taken a big team, because they've all stepped up. It's hard to separate them this far out from the worlds.

"We only take riders now we feel are going to have capabilities of medalling, if not winning. That's what we're striving for."

Cheatley said the riders will be facing plenty of pressure to perform, but that was the case at any track cycling event.

Simon van Velthooven said preparation for the World Champs has been spot on, and the cyclists are making the most of the new Avantidrome.

"The times we've been laying down in training have been better, if not the best we've ever had," van Velthooven said.

He said the team are well prepared for the host city, having competed there three times before, and "we know the ins and outs of the city".

"It's semi-indoor outdoor. It's got tight corners and big long straights, so it's pretty exciting racing, and there's generally a lot of crashes there because the corners are so tight.

"We've been there three times before. . . so hopefully it all comes together on race day for us."

The 25-year-old will be competing in the 1km time trial and the Keiren, in which he won bronze at the 2012 Beijing Olympics.

New Zealand's endurance team includes Halberg nominee and Omnium World Champion Aaron Gate, Dylan Kennett, Marc Ryan, Pieter Bulling, Shane Archbold and Tom Scully.

Sprinters Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins, Sam Webster and Matt Archibald will join van Velthooven in the squad.

The New Zealand team head to Cali on Monday, with the World Championships running from February 26 until March 2.

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