Tokyo Olympics 2020: Race on for spots in NZ women's cycling sprint line-up

New Zealand track cycling is running out of time to finalise its combination for the all-important women's sprint team for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

A second injury setback in the space of a year for star sprinter Emma Cumming means the preferred pairing is now unlikely to feature in Tokyo.

That means the World Cup event starting in Cambridge on Friday is the second of three trials to settle on a team before Tokyo. 

Natasha Hansen's spot in the team sprint has long been unrivalled. She and Cumming had the women's sprint team sewn up for the last two years.

But eight months out from the Olympics, the latter has reaggravated the hip injury that sidelined her for much of the 2019 season.

"Her and I had really good momentum from Commonwealth Games and world champs just prior to that, so it would have been nice to build on that," says Hansen.

The pair won silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year, but with Cumming unable to ride and racing just to be fit for Tokyo, sprint coach Rene Wolff is running out of time to fill the void.

"It's an extended trial coming up over the next few World Cups, so we will race all three girls in different World Cups and different positions," says Wolff.

Hansen, Liv Podmore and Ellesse Andrews are vying for the two spots.

For Andrews, it would cap a remarkable switch from the endurance programme to the sprint, but the 19-year-old isn't getting ahead of herself.

"The best team is going to line up at the end of the day and if it's not me, I'll be privileged to have been part of it," she says.

Hansen and Podmore get the opportunity to shine at Cambridge this week - Andrews' next chance will come in Brisbane in two weeks.

"Everything, for me, is just going through the experiences," she says. "I just want to put everything I can into the rides that I do."

With just eight months until Tokyo, all of a sudden there's a race to see who from the three will make the pair.