Cycling: New Zealand win three golds at UCI Track Cycling World Cup

The men’s team pursuit celebrate victory.
The men’s team pursuit celebrate victory. Photo credit: Cycling NZ

New Zealand's cyclists made the most of their home advantage on the opening night of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Cambridge by winning three gold medals on Friday.

The men's sprint team claimed their first World Cup win since 2017 after edging rivals Australia in the final, while both the men's and women's team pursuit combinations won gold at the Avantidrome.

New Zealand's sprint trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Edward Dawkins beat Australia's Nathan Hart, Jacob Schmid and Thomas Clarke by 0.613s, with a time of 43.121s.

"It's good to be back in the winner's circle," said Webster. "That ride in the first round, that's the second-fastest time we've ever done - I believe only the final in Rio was faster.

"I think that's a testament to how we got through the past year, but also Rene's [sprint coach Rene Wolff] input and this whole new evolution of how we're approaching the event, we're really starting to see some dividends."

That win for New Zealand was then backed up with an emphatic victory in the women's team pursuit. Racquel Sheath, Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan and Kristie James smashed their own national record on their way to gold with a time of 4m16.028s, 1.242s faster than Canada, who finished in 4m17.270s.

"We came here wanting to do a good ride," said Buchanan. "We weren't focused on what colour medal we wanted to win, and we just wanted to execute really well and go out and chase it.

The women's team pursuit.
The women's team pursuit. Photo credit: Cycling NZ

"So we went out fast to see what we can do, and the track's running really well, so we just thought 'let's do it'.

"The crowd bought it home, and I think we really felt it, the guys and the girls, so we're super proud to do great rides in front of the home crowd."

The story from the women's race was the remarkable comeback for Canadian rider Georgia Simmerling  - who was competing in her first event in a year since breaking both her legs last January at a World Cup ski cross event.

The men's pursuit team of Regan Gough, Campbell Stewart, Jordan Kerby and Nicholas Kergozou set the second-fastest time in history to win New Zealand's third gold, also beating Canada in the final.

They finished in 3m 50.159s to set a national record by over two seconds.

Stewart admitted the team was stunned to see their final time after the race.

"Straight after we finished the ride, we could see Canada out of the corner of our eye, so I looked straight up at the board ... I knew we were going fast, but to ride that quick, you don't really think about it until it's happened," Stewart said.

"I looked straight up at the board and was amazed, and then it's partly because of the crowd out there that really cheered us on all the way to the line." 

The Holy Brother Cycling Team from China won the day's only other final in the women's team sprint. China won in 33.460s, beating  France by two-tenths of a second.

Poland then beat New Zealand in the bronze medal race with a time of 33.710s.

Saturday's action features the women's sprint, men's keirin, women's omnium, men's scratch and madison.