16 Feb 2016

Veterans missing from Track World Champs team

11:18 am on 16 February 2016

Olympic cycling medallists Hayden Roulston and Simon van Velthooven have missed out on the team for next month's UCI track world champs but selectors say they will have every opportunity to push for Rio.

New Zealand's Hayden Roulston on the way to winning the men's individual pursuit at the Oceania track championships. 2015.

New Zealand's Hayden Roulston on the way to winning the men's individual pursuit at the Oceania track championships. 2015. Photo: Eugene Bonthuys

Cycling New Zealand has named an 18-strong team to contest the UCI Track World Championships that begin in the London Olympic velodrome in just over two weeks' time.

Selectors have opted for in-form riders while also taking the opportunity to blood some younger riders, but have left the door widely open for all riders looking ahead to the Rio Olympics.

Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director Mark Elliott said their ultimate goal was to have the fastest riders selected to compete in Rio in August.

"It is the same philosophy for these world championships. We have selected on form for the world championships," Elliott said.

"That said, while we will be expecting to perform strongly in London, it also presents a gilt-edged opportunity to test our systems, tactics and ideas and trial new riders against the best in the world."

"We can't do this in Rio, so London is also a testing ground at the highest level as well."

The tightest selection has been for the men's endurance squad where the world champion quartet of Piet Bulling, Alex Frame, Dylan Kennett and Marc Ryan has earned selection along with 2009 world omnium champion Aaron Gate.

Two young riders have been selected for the first time. Southland's Nick Kergozou has been picked as an option for the omnium while former junior world Madison champion, Luke Mudgway has impressed throughout the season.

Missing out were Hawkes Bay's Regan Gough on health grounds and double 2008 Olympic medallist Roulston.

"Hayden has trained well and is producing the numbers and the door is far from closed. He has made big gains over this training phase, but with the quality of the rest of the team we could not make a selection call with Hayden for this event," Elliott said.

The next phase through to Rio would create opportunities for Roulston to build on the gains Roulston had made through early 2016, Elliott said, and he expected Gough to be back to full health and a real contender for Rio, after being a key part of their world championship-winning squad last year.

Southland's Matt Archibald, last year's world championship kilo medallist, has won the back-up role to the team sprint behind Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins, after a close battle with Simon van Velthooven at the championships.

"The competition within the sprint team is immense and Matt has earned that right for our needs at present. Again Simon has shown real improvement and will have every opportunity to push for a place in the Rio team to defend his keirin medal," Elliott said.

Waikato's Racquel Sheath earned her place back in the team after winning both bunch races titles at the nationals.

Sheath will join the women's team pursuit with the experienced Lauren Ellis earning the nod to compete in the omnium.

Junior world championship medallist Olivia Podmore has gained selection to join the in-form Natasha Hansen in the women's sprint.

"The firm focus for Natasha at the world championships will be the individual sprint and keirin, which gives us the opportunity look forward with our team sprint combination and give Olivia her chance at the highest level," Elliott said.

Cycling New Zealand was in the rare position to be on target to qualify a full team on the track for Rio, which had also figured in their selection plans, Elliott said.

New Zealand:

Men, endurance: Piet Bulling, Alex Frame, Aaron Gate, Dylan Kennett, Nic Kergozou, Luke Mudgway, Marc Ryan

Sprint: Matt Archibald, Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster

Women, endurance: Rushlee Buchanan, Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen, Racquel Sheath, Georgia Williams.

Sprint: Natasha Hansen, Olivia Podmore