Kennett claims gold in individual pursuit
Dylan Kennett didn't have the best build-up to the Elite and Under 19 Track Cycling Championships, but that didn't stop him taking out the 4000m individual pursuit title tonight.
The 19-year-old Mid South Canterbury rider set a personal best time in qualifying to make his way into the final, finishing in four minutes 25.056 seconds.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Patrick Bevin was a surprise opponent in the final, finishing three 10ths of a second later for the second fastest time of the session, ahead of established endurance riders Aaron Gate, Myron Simpson and World Championships bronze medalist Marc Ryan.
When it came to the final, Bevin was on the attack early, making the most of his relatively fresh legs compared to his younger opponent.
Following on from the World Track Cycling Championships in Cali, Colombia, Kennett flew to Australia and took part in the Bendigo Madison, before eventually returning to New Zealand.
That took plenty out of the teenager, but he still had enough in the tank to defeat Bevin in the individual pursuit final.
"It wasn't the ideal build up for me, but I'm happy to do a big PB this morning,'' he said.
"And then to back it up with a pretty tough ride tonight, I'm pretty happy."
Bevin was fast out of the gate, building a 1.5s lead after a kilometre.
Kennett could see Bevin out of the corner of his eye, and said he had to dig deep to reel him in and eventually edge ahead in the race.
"I could see myself coming back at him,'' he said.
"I dug deep, and I think we were both dying out but I think I died slower than him, because he started out pretty quick."
Aaron Gate ended up with the fastest time in the finals to take out the bronze medal ride against fellow Aucklander Myron Simpson, finishing in 4:27.324.
World Championship bronze medalist Marc Ryan was an earlier casualty, failing to make either of the medal rides with fifth place in qualifying.
Ryan hadn't mounted a bike since his bronze medal winning effort in Colombia, and finished just off the pace in 4:28.869.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Jaime Nielsen won the women's 3000m individual pursuit final, finishing more than two seconds ahead of Mid South Canterbury rider Lauren Ellis.
Nielsen qualified for the final with a competition best 3:37.714 ride, and took nearly a second off her time in the final to finish in 3:36.973.
She had a boisterous support group watching her ride, which she said was a first at major competition.
"It was great having my parents and my friends all here watching,'' she said.
"In the past, it's quite a trip getting to Invercargill, so I never really had any support. Mum did come out to Melbourne once, but Invercargill is a similar trip."
The support helped Nielsen get off to a fast start, and she never relinquished her lead.
Up by two seconds with a kilometre to go, Nielsen matched Ellis as she pushed for a comeback in that final third and secured the gold medal.
Georgia Williams of Auckland claimed bronze, beating Waikato-Bay of Plenty's Rushlee Buchanan in the third-fourth race.