There’s plenty at stake for the leading women in this week’s Oceania Track Cycling Championships starting tomorrow at the ILT Velodrome in Invercargill.
They will be chasing places in the team for next week’s key UCI World Cup in Melbourne which will be selected following this week’s racing.
The championships, which feature world champions Alison Shanks, Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Cameron Karwowski, run from tomorrow through to Saturday with the road titles on Sunday.
The most competition will be for places in the women’s team pursuit for Melbourne with the world championship silver medal trio of Alison Shanks (Dunedin), Jaime Nielsen (Cambridge) and Lauren Ellis (Ashburton) the leading contenders. They will be pushed by a further group including Kaytee Boyd (Auckland), Rushlee Buchanan (Te Awamutu), the experienced Joanne Kiesanowski (Christchurch) and Gemma Dudley ( Levin).
The competition for places is exciting for BikeNZ national women’s coach Dayle Cheatley.
“It’s healthy to have competition and we are in a good position in that regard. And there’s a great culture among the girls,” Cheatley said.
“We are looking for the younger ones in the squad to produce some personal bests this week including Rushlee, Jaime, Lauren, and Kaytee. I am looking for all of them to step up.
“We are looking for performances in the individual pursuit which is the key for us this week. We will select from the individual pursuit for the Melbourne World Cup, so there’s a bit on it for these girls.”
The event is the first in the rainbow jersey for individual pursuit world champion Shanks.
“No doubt that will add a bit of pressure. We are looking for a nice solid performance from her leading into Melbourne.”
Cheatley said that BikeNZ will be well placed should the UCI decide on their major changes for the Olympic disciplines, including ditching the individual pursuit for the team pursuit.”
“We’ve got a great squad at present. There’s real completion here. If the new Olympic changes come out we are in the good position to tackle it and produce a very competitive women’s team pursuit.”
The world championship medal winning men’s team pursuiters will also be in action in the individual pursuit, after all competed in the gruelling Tour of Southland that finished on Saturday.
Timaru’s Marc Ryan, who saw his tour of Southland hopes fade when he missed the break on the penultimate stage on the final day, said he had to put the disappointment behind him and focus back on the track.
“I ran a day and a half short. I had to do a bit much early on the Tour and rode a bit hard but I needed to in order to set myself up with a chance to win it because we were down to three riders in our team,” Ryan said.
“The boys rode as best we could but it was that one hill that caught me on the final day. I would like to win it, it’s a bit disappointing. I’ve had to deal with it and move on. Now the track is the focus – a bit more pain and suffering –although the pain is a bit shorter than the road. It’s great to be back with the boys.”
Ryan said the body was still a bit sore but it was an important week before the World Cup.
“For most of us it is about getting through this week as best we can. By the weekend we will have fully recovered and ready for the World Cup,” Ryan said.
“This week is probably more about track time for us. None of us has done any efforts on the track since the last camp here. So we will roll out a few laps in readiness for the individual pursuit tomorrow.”
The first day of competition tomorrow features the individual pursuit and sprint for men and women with the main competition from across the Tasman likely to come from Australian sprint champion Daniel Ellis and talented Victorian Joel Leonard.