New Zealand cycling team return full of optimism
New Zealand could dominate the world in cycling's team sprint for the next decade, according to BikeNZ's High Performance Director, Mark Elliott.
The mood was one of optimism as the New Zealand team returned home this morning after their strong performances at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Colombia - the five-medal haul equalling their best set in Melbourne two years ago.
Leading the way was the team sprint trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins who won the coveted rainbow jersey as world champions, breaking new ground under the 44-second barrier at Cali.
"It is not boasting or setting the bar too high," Elliott said. "Eddie is 24 and the other two are just 23 years old in a discipline where riders do not reach their peak until their early 30s.
"Sir Chris Hoy was (in his) mid 30s when he was winning in London. So logically these guys have many years ahead of them."
BikeNZ national sprint coach Anthony Peden shares Elliott's sentiments.
"We have only just started. They could have two or three Olympics in them," he said.
"These young guys have had an excellent programme over the last four or five years. But we've only just moved to Cambridge and about to start our first ever centralised programme which means we will be with these guys every day.
"They are so young that there is still a lot of development to go in all facets of their preparation and racing."
Double world champion Francois Pervis of France is 30, fellow stars Gregory Bauge (FRA) and Maximillian Levy (GER) are in their late 20s, while Great Britain's Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny is younger at 26.
"The future is quite exciting. We are going to celebrate this world title for sure. But the thing that is really exciting these guys, and I mean the whole sprint squad, the younger guys coming through the system and our staff, is that there's so much more to come," Peden added.
There's no time to rest, however, with the team sprinters now looking to compete against each other in the all-important national elite championships at the new Avantidrome in Cambridge next week with individual spots up for grabs for July's Commonwealth Games at stake.