Webster prevails in an epic duel with Dawkins

BEN STRANG
Last updated 23:10 14/03/2014

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Sam Webster got the better of his World Champion team sprint team mate Eddie Dawkins in the final of the individual sprint.

Aucklander Webster finished less than two hundredths of a second ahead of Dawkins in the first of the best-of-three finals races at the Elite and Under-19 Track Cycling Championships, coming from behind on the final straight to edge ahead.

The Avantidrome crowd sucked the oxygen out of the air as the duo crossed the line, and it took a photo finish on the big screen to show who had won the race.

Webster was better in the second race, out manoeuvring Dawkins on the second to last corner and building a large lead over the line.

The gold is Webster's second medal of the champs, after winning bronze in the 250m time trial on Thursday.

"I am pretty happy with how it went seeing we have come off the world championships,'' he said.

"Tactically, I'd say I was a bit above good. It's good to get out here when we're really fatigued and put those tactics to work.

"I'm really pleased to defend my national title. It puts me in good stead for Commonwealth Games selection as well."

Simon van Velthooven claimed bronze in the sprint, beating Southland's Matt Archibald by six one-thousandths of a second in a stunning photo finish.

In the women's sprint, Southland team mates Stephanie McKenzie and Natasha Hansen battled in the final, with McKenzie winning her second gold medal of the champs.

McKenzie has proved tough to beat in sprints, with her raw power propelling her over the line.

The 21-year-old came from behind in both races, rounding Hansen in the final corner and speeding home for the victory to defend the title she first won last year.

"Consecutive wins, so you put a little bit more pressure on yourself going into it,'' she said,

"Unfortunately I've been away from Tash for a good year now since she did the Fight for Christchurch, so my wee training buddy hasn't been with me.

"It's really good to get back out there and actually race with her.''

McKenzie's victory adds to the gold medal she won in the 250m time trial on Thursday, and the silver medal she won on the same day in the 500m time trial behind Otago's Katie Schofield.

In the women's 20km points race, Southland's Sophie Williamson won with 18 points, ahead of Mid South Canterbury's Lauren Ellis on 17 and Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Jaime Nielsen with 16.

Nielsen made a late charge to try and gain a lap on the field with about 20 laps remaining, but fell just short as she neared the chasing group.

Canterbury's Gemma Payne, Southland's Catherine Jordan and Waikato-BoP's Racquel Sheath were involved in a nasty crash with 33 laps remaining, which took a large gouge out of the new Avantidrome track.

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Otago's Brad Evans took out the men's scratch race, pulling away in the final two laps to finish clear of Dylan Kennett in second and Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Patrick Bevan in third.

Auckland's Aaron Gate led several attempts to get clear of the field but could never get enough of a buffer, although it did see several riders drop off the main group.

Evans then timed his break perfectly, ducking up the inside of the lead group with two laps to go and streaking clear.

- Stuff

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