12 Feb 2016

Hansen and Webster win sprint titles

11:32 am on 12 February 2016

Natasha Hansen and Sam Webster have won their respective individual sprint titles at the national track cycling championships in Cambridge.

New Zealand track cyclist Natasha Hansen.

New Zealand track cyclist Natasha Hansen. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Hansen of Southland was in imperious form throughout the competition, beating Olivia Podmore 2-0 in the semifinal and dominating defending champion Stephanie Mckenzie in two straight rides in the final.

Earlier Hansen broke the New Zealand record in qualifying to add to the record set on her way to winning the 500 metres time trial on the opening night.

"That was really pleasing to win. The girls on the world scene are going extremely fast so I was chasing the clock as well as focussing on the win tonight," said Hansen.

"So I'm happy to win the title and also really pleased with the times I've achieved tonight as well. I am definitely tracking in the right direction but there's more to do."

Commonwealth Games champion Sam Webster showed his speed and sense to hold off Eddie Dawkins 2-0 in the men's final in a repeat of last year when he prevailed in the deciding ride. Earlier Webster was equally impressive to beating Matt Archibald in two straight rides in the semi-final.

Dawkins showed his raw speed to set a New Zealand Championship record in the flying 200m qualifying, timed at 9.901 seconds, with Webster just 1/100ths of a second behind in a personal best on this sized track. Dawkins' time was 15/100th of a second inside the previous championship record, established by Webster two years ago.

The other major improver was specialist team sprint starter Ethan Mitchell who set a personal best 10.069s in qualifying, pushed Dawkins to two photo-finish rides in the semifinal but held off world championship time trial medallist Archibald for the bronze in two rides.

"After the personal disappointment of missing out on London, my goal was to win all four sprint titles before Rio. To achieve that goal I can finally get that monkey off my back," Webster said.

"It is a huge, huge confidence boost for me. All the boys are in fantastic shape. We just need to do some finishing work."

Sprint coach Anthony Peden said he was pleased with the performances thus far from his senior riders.

"We are less than a month away from the world championships so of course we expect to be doing best times," Peden said.

"The riders have really stood up with a bundle of best times in qualifying and some excellent performances in their match racing.

The programme began with a superb record to Wellington's Kate Horan, the former Paralympics athletics medallist, in the C3 Flying 200m. Horan set the world record at 13.551s at last year's championships and further reduced the world mark to 13.198s as she prepares for Rio.

Raquel Sheath won the women's 20-kilometre points race and world champion team pursuiter Alex Frame managed the best sprint to outlast Hayden Roulston to win the men's scratch race.