Tokyo Olympics: Eddie Dawkins' retirement prompts Tokyo refocus for Cycling NZ

The star men's sprint team may no longer be a priority for Cycling NZ at next year's Tokyo Olympics, with Eddie Dawkins' sudden retirement has prompted a rethink.

Dawkins called time on his career last week, leaving a gaping hole to fill alongside Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster, and that could mean individual glory comes first in Tokyo.

Over the past 10 years, the men's sprint team of Dawkins, Webster and Mitchell have flown to three world titles and an Olympic silver medal.

But with 30-year-old Dawkins feeling another 15 months was too much for him, medal targets in Tokyo may reset.

"Eddie not being in the picture is momentous," Cycling NZ high performance manager Martin Barras has told Newshub. 

"Now we really have to balance individual chances versus team chances." 

Barras is confident of filling the void with one of three other riders in the sprint programme, but that may not lead to team success by next year's Tokyo Games.

"I'd be lying if I said they're not excited about the fact that it opens up individual opportunities and it takes the pressure off."

But these were the golden boys of the New Zealand track team and Olympic gold in the team sprint has been their sole focus for a decade.

For Mitchell, that doesn't change with Dawkins' absence.

"Team sprint will always be my priority, so long as it's attainable for an Olympic medal, and I still believe we're in a place where we can really be pushing for those medals," he says.

Mitchell has faith in the depth the sprint programme has developed and refuses to buy into the suggestion that Olympic gold may be out of reach.

"It would be hard to be in a position where you're fully motivated, if you don't think that."

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