Cycling: Historic world cycling champs haul proves Kiwi riders on track for Paris Olympics

Strap in New Zealand. Stick those feet on the pedals and lock them in - this ride is going to be fun. 

It's hard to look at the record-breaking haul of 16 medals the New Zealand cycling team delivered at the recent world championships in Scotland, and contain your excitement for next year's Olympics. 

The track success is the clear reason why, especially after confirming that last year's crushing of the Commonwealth was no coincidence.  

Their elder statesman, Aaron Gate, continues to defy father time. It seems all that could stop the 32-year-old from getting a medal in Paris next year would be a repeat of his crash in Tokyo. Individually, he's sensational, his ticker in particular, has to be marveled at. 

In the endurance team, Gate and Campbell Stewart will look to improve on their bronze medal in the madison three years ago. With more time on the track together heading into Paris, you wouldn't rule it out. 

Aaron Gate claims gold in the men's points race.
Aaron Gate claims gold in the men's points race. Photo credit: Getty Images

What helps is their existing relationship. You can't help but smile at the way the pair interact with each other. There's still the older brother complex, but they're now equals.  

Stewart, a silver medallist in the omnium at the last Games, will also be better for a longer lead-in, after coming fresh off the road. When you add Tom Sexton and Nick Kergozou, the men's team pursuit are in good stead.  

The women's endurance programme, arguably, is ahead of schedule. Bryony Botha's the big name and her individual success proves that. But the support around her with Michaela Drummond and Emily Shearman, and the return of Ally Wollaston from her wrist injury suffered at last year's Tour de Femme, has them combining well. That British team who beat them for team pursuit gold is scary though. 

As the sole male sprinter Sam Dakin will be disappointed with his return, but he'll be better for it. His results weren't a reflection of his ability or form and he'll have learned lessons around tactics. 

And then there's the women's sprint. Rebecca Petch's development further confirms what a smart move it was from her to transition from BMX to being a world-class first wheel, while Shaane Fulton's return from injury has them well-balanced. Having broken the NZ best time, whispers in the camp are that they could go sub-46 seconds at some stage. 

But the overall success of that programme is going to be dependent on their big name. The face of track cycling in this country. 

Ellesse Andrews.
Ellesse Andrews. Photo credit: Getty Images

Yes, that sounds like pressure, but Ellesse Andrews is seriously something else. No longer is she a rising star of the track cycling world, she has now ascended into the sky to be the one at times, shining brightest. She now feels she belongs and that confidence will only grow.  

But who she now surrounds herself with will be key. You don't have to look far for proof of her growth under Nick Flyger. His departure back to Australia to be with his family is an enormous loss, though I suspect his fingerprints will still be on that women's programme and, in particular, Andrews. 

This is when we go full nerd.  

Two areas stand out in her development. Yes, the gold in the keirin is enormous and obvious. 

But it's the way she rode it. Andrews is renowned for having a strength in a late surge strength - just look at the way she won gold at last year's Commonwealth Games, and how she races in the final laps of the women's team sprint. 

But in Glasgow, she rode differently. She drew sixth, placing her at the top end of the velodrome, and sat high, before dropping down to the back for the early stages, as is customary for her; Andrews normally lingers, rather than leads. But with three laps to go, she made her move and with two to go, fought with Colombia's Martha Bayona before holding her and the pack off.

It's a different way to win, but one that she now knows can work for her. She's now planning for all situations, rather than just relying on her strengths. 

That individual sprint bronze will also do wonders for her confidence. It's an area which hasn't been her best, and she's still developing strategies for what is essentially fast-paced chess in a velodrome.  

Off the track, Sam Gaze's surge to secure silver as the first elite Kiwi rider to win a world championship medal in mountain bike cross-country was impressive, especially when you take into consideration that the gold medallist, Tom Pidcock, is also the reigning Olympic champion. Gold in the short course is also commendable, though eyes should be more on the elite class. 

Also deserving of a nod are the junior and U23 titles in BMX and mountain bike.

The road riders weren't expected to make a massive dent in Glasgow and, as it always is, will be the biggest ask for the Kiwi riders at the Olympics. Most have support roles within their teams and switching roles just five days after the finish of Le Tour will be a tough ask. 

The steep finish of Montmartre will go to decide the winner, but only after an enduring, hilly course, with 14 climbs for the men and nine for the women, combining for 4,500m of elevation gain. 

The push for podiums in Paris starts now.