Points race one to watch at track nationals

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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It can be described as confusing chaos, but New Zealand's elite women's track cyclist say the points race is one of the best to watch.

One of six endurance events to be held at the National Track Cycling Championships in Cambridge next week, the event will see a mass start, with up to 30 riders on track.

Elite women Rushlee Buchanan, Jaime Nielsen, Lauren Ellis and Georgia Williams are expected to be near the front of the pack once the race is finished.

In the men's race, Tom Scully is expected to compete, after winning silver at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Cali, Colombia last week.

"It's 20km, or 80 laps, and you have a mass start, and then every 10th lap there is a sprint to get points," Buchanan said.

"But then if you are able to lap the field you get 20 points, so it can get quite confusing during the race knowing where you are, and where you want to be."

If it's confusing for the riders, the competitors acknowledge it can be even more confusing for those watching, but visually, the regular sprints

and when riders attack to try and lap the field makes it one of the best races.

Buchanan said the winner isn't necessarily the first across the line. It's the rider with the most points who is crowned the victor.

Strategies for the race vary, with some riders aiming to lap the field quickly and then defend a 20 point lead, while others stay in the pack with the hope of winning enough sprints to take out the race.

Breakaways are often spectacular, with groups of up to five riders breaking free of the pack, while the field then try to chase them down and prevent being lapped.

With that many riders on track, crashes can happen from time to time, but Buchanan said it's an exciting event to watch and be a part of.

Nielsen said it was events like the points race which got her hooked on track cycling, with the speed and skill of the riders impressive to watch.

"I think watching on television you don't get a true sense of the speed we're doing, but if you see it in person it really surprises you," she said.

"Hopefully people will come out and get hooked on track cycling. It's what got me started, so hopefully it'll convince a few more to get into it."

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- Fairfax Media

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