The young New Zealand men’s team pursuit produced a thrilling effort to top all qualifiers on the first day of the UCI track world championships near Paris.
The quartet of Dylan Kennett, Pieter Bulling, Alex Frame and Marc Ryan, in their first ever competition, topped all qualifiers in the men’s 4000m team pursuit at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
Earlier the proven quartet of Rushlee Buchanan, Lauren Ellis, Georgia Williams and Jaime Nielsen finished fourth highest qualifier in the women’s 4000m team pursuit, which means both go through to the second round tomorrow with a chance of medals.
The men’s combination was one of the youngest in the competition with Kennett 20 with Bulling and Frame both 21, with Ryan – a double Olympic medallist – providing the all-important experience.
They were second fastest at the first kilometre in a stunning 1m03s and then reeled off splits of 57 seconds, 57 seconds and 56 seconds for the remaining three kilometres to clock 3:56.421.
They were followed by the Olympic champions Great Britain in 3:57,716, Germany 3:58.861 and Switzerland 3:58.887 with defending world champions Australia only fifth.
Tomorrow New Zealand meet Switzerland and Great Britain take on Germany, with the winners qualifying to the gold medal ride.
The fifth to eighth qualifiers also ride-off with the fastest two times, including the two losing teams from the top-four ride, to contest for the bronze medal.
The women’s quartet started with a strong 1:10 opening kilometre and produced a consistent 1:04 for each remaining kilo to finish in 4:25.406.
Australia topped qualifiers in 4:18.135 from Olympic champions Great Britain in 4:18.207 with Canada 4:25.699.
New Zealand will meet Australia tomorrow which will provide a real test to push to the medal ride-off later in the evening.