8 Dec 2016

NZ sprinters shine at Oceania Champs

10:23 am on 8 December 2016

The Rio Olympic silver medallists men's team sprint led the way for the New Zealand team on the opening day of the Oceania Track Cycling Championships in Melbourne.

The New Zealand men's sprint team of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster.

The New Zealand men's sprint team of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins were comfortable winners in the final clocking a respectable 43:535 to begin their competition season.

They earlier topped qualifying in 44.027 and dominated the final by 1.5s over the Australians.

It was the only elite result where the New Zealand contingent managed to better their rivals on the opening day.

Australia took out the women's team sprint (Kaarle McCulloch, Stephanie Morton) in 34.432 over New Zealand's Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen in 35.364.

The hosts won both 4000m team pursuit finals.

The Australian men, with the return of multi-world champion Cameron Meyer, dominated the final in a slick 3:54.598, while their women claimed the gold in 4:25.517 ahead of New Zealand's 4:28.381.

McCulloch edged out Cumming in the final of the 500m time trial in 34.417 with the New Zealander timed at 35.101, while the in-form Racquel Sheath returned to the track following recent road success to claim third in the Points race.

Aaron Gate, also back after considerable success on the road in winning the Tour of Southland and national criterium titles, was second in the men's Points race behind Australian Sam Welsford.

New Zealand's Ellesse Andrews won gold in the junior women's time trial in 35.781 with team-mate Emily Shearman third in 36.812.

The other success came in the junior women's team pursuit, where New Zealand dominated.

They topped qualifying in 4:38.45 and improved in the final in 4:35.659 to win the gold by over six seconds.

The junior men's team pursuit is on the second day of competition.

Southland's Corbin Strong impressed to finish a close second in Australia's Riley Hart in the junior men's omnium, run under the new one-day format.

He was third in the scratch race, first in the new tempo race, fifth in the elimination and second in the points to finish just four points from the gold.

New Zealand had to settle for second place behind Australia in the finals of the junior team sprint for both men and women.

The championships, which continue until Saturday, are the first chance to collect UCI qualifying points for next year's world championships.