Cycling: Thomas Sexton's bronze medal breaks NZ drought at world championships

NZ cyclist Thomas Sexton
NZ cyclist Thomas Sexton. Photo credit: Photosport

Kiwi Thomas Sexton has snatched a bronze in the men's scratch race to break the medal drought at the world track cycling championships in Poland.

And moments later, the NZ women repeated that performance in the team pursuit, defeating Canada by more than three seconds in a ride-off for third. 

After a disappointing opening two days of the competition, Sexton finally gave the New Zealand team something to celebrate at the Pruszkow velodrome.

The 20-year-old covered most of the attacks during the 15km journey and took the lead on the penultimate lap of 60, but could not hold off the storming finishes of Australian Sam Welsford and Dutchman Roy Eefting.

Sexton's performance marked a massive improvement on last year, when he finished 17th in the same event.

Welsford's victory completed a remarkable double triumph, just moments after he had helped the Aussie quartet to a new world record of 3m 48.012s in the 4000m team pursuit.

In the women's pursuit, New Zealand lost their second-round race against Great Britain, but qualified for the bronze-medal race with the fourth fastest time.

Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha, Holly Edmonston and Kirstie James started the ride-off conservatively, trailling the Canadians through the early laps, but eventually wound up and rode away to clock 4m 16.479s. 

The much-vaunted NZ track programme had been underwhelming at these championships, with the men's sprint and pursuit teams falling well short of medals.