Kennett to train with elite squad

Waimate's Dylan Kennett continues his fast ride into the elite ranks as BikeNZ look to youth in its bid for Olympic success in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Bike NZ have named six young riders, including Kennett, to join several Olympic incumbents in a five-month European-based training and racing programme as they look to develop develop a men's endurance track team for the world championships and Commonwealth Games next year and on to the Rio.

There will be two very familiar faces for 18-year-old Kennett to look to if he needs advice with Timaru's Marc Ryan and Shane Archbold also in the squad.

Ryan, Archbold, Kennett and Andy van der Heyden won the national team pursuit title in Invercargill last week, lapping fellow finalists Southland.

Kennett's promotion is no real surprise after he impressed at last year's UCI Junior World Championships where he won three silver medals.

He then finished fourth in his elite UCI World Cup debut in the individual pursuit in Scotland.

Kennett is also a finalist in the emerging talent category for the Halberg Awards.

BikeNZ has bypassed taking a pursuit team to next month's world championships in Belarus in favour of the European campaign which will be based in Oudenaarde in the Flanders area of Belgium.

They have taken under-23 squads for road training to Belgium for the last three years but this year it has a different focus.

BikeNZ head coach Dayle Cheatley said it is a track squad which will be undergoing specific track development training and racing, which will include some road training and racing to support this.

"The programme is aimed at track outcomes and we will be using this time to develop this group in their physical development, track skills as well as looking for combinations and a team culture."

BikeNZ will move to a base previously used by the Australian Drapac Porsche Continental team.

"It is a perfect base set up for cycling teams.

"It is within 30 minutes of two tracks in Ghent and Roubaix and very close for training and racing."

The six young riders selected, with an average age of 19, comprise Pieter Bulling and Cameron Karwowski (both Invercargill), Hamish Schreurs and Michael Vink (both Christchurch), Hayden McCormick (Te Awamutu) and Kennett.

"Some of them have been to Europe with our previous under-23 squads or come through our under-19 programme and have exciting futures."

Cheatley said they will also be including other New Zealand riders who have contracts with teams in Europe and believe have the talent to be considered, including the likes of Myron Simpson.

"This year is the ideal time, in the post-Olympic year, for this technical development work which will form a critical part of our pathway going forward."

BikeNZ are still awaiting qualification procedures for Rio but advice from UCI is that it is likely to new require a new process of qualifying track events in Europe to advance to World Cups which will be mandatory for qualification for the world championships and ultimately the Rio Olympics.

"We will be able to undertake track racing in Europe from this group and will be able to plan this more precisely when the UCI advise of this expected change to qualifying at the end of February."

The group will head Europe in early April and return in late August for the anticipated Oceania Championships, subject to the UCI qualifying process.

The Timaru Herald