Staff grapple with gates as Avantidrome hosts nationals

BEN STRANG
Last updated 08:53 14/03/2014

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The Avantidrome got its baptism of fire yesterday, hosting its first event - the Elite and Under 19 Track Cycling Championships.

Modest crowds watched as the championships got under way outside Cambridge, but larger crowds were expected last night and for the weekend sessions.

The first session kicked off at 11am, and ran more than an hour late, as staff got used to the world level starting gates and timing equipment.

Southland sprinter Stephanie McKenzie won the first national title of the championships, taking out the 250 metre time trial. She has spent plenty of time cycling on Invercargill's indoor velodrome, and said there were similar teething issues when it opened.

"[The event is] running a little slow, but you kind of expect that. It's mainly around the starting process with the gate, but they're just getting used to it. They'll get faster and faster."

While the Southland velodrome has an infield at the same level as the track, the Avantidrome infield is lower, which McKenzie said gives the facility a more professional feel.

It also has longer corners than Invercargill's venue, which she said has taken some getting used to while training with the BikeNZ elite team.

Men's 250m time trial winner and team sprint World Champion Ethan Mitchell is representing Auckland for nationals, but said he felt it was a home crowd, as he has moved to Cambridge.

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- Waikato Times

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