Southlander’s team in top 10 finish

Aaron Gate and Corbin Strong in action in the 50km madison at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships at the weekend. Photo: Robert Jones

THE Vantage New Zealand track team, including Southland’s Corbin Strong, has taken a small but significant first step towards the 2024 Paris Olympics with a competitive campaign at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in France.

The four-strong team finished in the top-10 in every event contested, held in Roubaix, after the original world championships in Turkmenistan were cancelled because of Covid-19-related issues in the country.

The team finished in ninth place in the gruelling 50km men’s madison where Strong and Aaron Gate combined for a competitive effort, gaining points in three sprints.

However, they were unable to match the group of six European nations at the sharp end of the race, won by the Olympic-champions Denmark.

Last Saturday, Strong finished seventh in the 40km points race over 160 laps of the STAB Velodrome.

He began strongly, winning the opening sprint, determined every 10 laps, and collected points in six of the first eight laps before numerous breaks led to laps gained on the field.

Strong appeared to be in a group that gained a lap but he and the Italian rider were not awarded the 20 bonus points, which would have put him into bronze medal contention.

“There did seem some confusion with that lap but, to be honest, I didn’t have the condition to pull off a top result and the best guy won the race,he said.

“I didn’t have the legs today (Saturday) but I gave it everything I had.”

Strong is hopeful of a quota spot to travel home after a training camp with his move into the World Tour with Israel Start-up Nation, and is also considering taking part in some of the UCI’s new track champions league. This comprises six one-night events in Mallorca, Paris, Lithuania, London and Israel.