UCI WORLD CUP CYCLING – MELBOURNE – DAY 2 QUALIFYING
The New Zealand men’s team pursuit came within a blink of the eye of riding for the gold medal in the second night of finals at the UCI World Cup in Melbourne tonight.
The Olympic bronze medalists will ride off for bronze against the powerful Denmark combination while hosts Australia ride for gold against Olympic champions Great Britain.
The BikeNZ quartet was only 4/10ths of a second off a place in the final, pipped by Australia on the dead Hisense Arena track today.
New Zealand riders are through to two other finals tonight with 19 year old Tom Scully winning his heat of the scratch race and Joanne Kiesanowski comfortably through in the qualifying round of the points race.
Sprinters Simon Van Velthooven and triple world junior champion Sam Webster are both through to next round of keirin, with Webster, in his first major meet in the elite ranks, forced through the repecharge to advance.
New Zealand gambled on resting top pursuiter Jesse Sergent in the qualifying after the Feilding rider had completed two gruelling races on the way to the gold medal in the individual pursuit yesterday.
Great Britain, who clocked a remarkable 3:54 in the World Cup in Manchester, were fastest in 4:01.914 while Australia were next in 4:02.755 and the kiwis third fastest in 4:03.166. Denmark, the world championship silver medalists, looked the strongest early but fell away.
“It was always going to be a risk not putting Jesse into the team to secure a gold medal ride,’ BikeNZ Head Coach Tim Carswell said. “But it was more important for us to try out a different combination today.
“The guys rode solid but didn’t quite get on the schedule we had set. They came home strongly but it was not quite enough today to secure the gold ride off tonight. They will come out firing this evening.”
Kiesanowski (Christchurch) looked very comfortable, scoring in three sprints to advance to the final tonight.
Scully again impressed by taking the sprint to qualify in the scratch race, and continues to raise eyebrows in his first serious tilt at this level.
NOTE: Tonight’s second night of finals will finish by midnight.