Southland cyclists’ medal haul

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Corbin Strong and Nicholas Kergozou compete in the Men Elite Omnium Points Race 25km during the 2020 Vantage Elite and U19 Track Cycling National Championships at the Avantidrome in Cambridge, New Zealand on Saturday, 25 January 2020. Photo: Dianne Manson

THE contingent of Southland cyclists may have required extra baggage allowance on their to the region return after competing at the Vantage Elite and U19 Track National Championships in Cambridge due to a large medal haul.

The team of 29 riders, claimed eight gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze medals during the competition held between January 23-26.

There were also additional medals for madison combinations, including Southlanders, with gold in the men’s madison and bronze in the women’s madison.

Southland sits second in the points shield going into age group track nationals — four points behind leaders Waikato Bay of Plenty, and two points ahead of Canterbury in third.

Corbin Strong was one of the stand-out performers as he dominated the elite omnium and points race to take two gold medals while riding a limited programme.

Nick Kergozou was rewarded with gold in the elite men’s 1000m time trial, as well as bronze in the elite men omnium.

He took home another gold as part of the elite men’s team sprint, and a silver as part of the elite men team pursuit.

Kirstie James claimed gold, and a championship record, in the elite women’s 3000m individual pursuit, and also bronze in the elite women’s scratch race.

Connor Douglas claimed medals in the para-cycling men’s events — gold in the 1000m time trial, and silver in the 4000m individual pursuit, with a personal best in
the pursuit.

Eddie Dawkins competed in the elite men’s keirin, but dominated completely, taking the gold medal with a demonstration of power that was too much for the rest of
the field.

Mitchel Fitzsimons won gold in the U19 men scratch race, silver in the 1000m time trial .
Natasha Hansen set the fastest qualifying time in the elite women’s sprint making her way through to the gold medal ride where she lost out to fellow world’s-bound
rider Olivia Podmore.

Rhylee Akeroyd was rewarded with a silver in the U19 women 500m time trial, silver in the points race, bronze in the keirin, and bronze in the omnium.

Tyla Green took silver in the U19 women’s keirin, silver in the sprint, bronze in the 500m time trial, and bronze in the scratch race. She was also part of the U19 women’s team sprint team that claimed bronze.

Tom Sexton partnered with Laurence Pithie, won the madison. He also part of took gold and silver respectively in the sprint and team pursuit teams, as well as claiming an individual bronze in the scratch race.

Nicole Shields won silver in the elite women’s points race, helping Southland to silver in the team pursuit, and combining with Racquel Sheath for bronze in the
madison.

Bradly Knipe qualified second fastest in the Elite men’s sprint before going on to take bronze in the event, backing it up with bronze in the keirin.

Sophie-Leigh Bloxham took bronze in the elite women’s 500m time trial and was part of the silver medal-winning team sprint lineup.

Jenny Brown took bronze in the U19 women’s sprint, and another bronze as part of the U19 women’s team sprint lineup.

Josh Miller raced well in a nail-biting U19 men Keirin final, getting the bronze medal in a photo finish.

The team events were fertile hunting ground for Southland as well, as the combination of Kergozou, Sexton, and Conor Shearing combined for a gold medal performance in the team sprint. What made the result even more significant is that all three riders are best known for their team pursuit riding rather than their sprinting.

The same combination, with the addition of Sam Miller, also rode to a silver medal in the team pursuit, pushing with all they had in the final to try and match a flying
Canterbury combination, but succumbing in the end.

There was a silver medal for the women in the team pursuit, with Shields, Rylee McMullen, Emily Paterson, and sprinter Nicole Marshall making it to the gold medal ride where they were beaten by a Waikato team that went on to set a new championship record.

Marshall also partnered with Bloxham to take silver in the Elite women team sprint, while Green and Brown took bronze in the U19 women team sprint.

There were many personal best times set as well, and a number of riders who made their presence known, even though they went home without medals.

Jake Willis rode out of his skin in numerous events, with his most impressive performance surely being his fourth place finish in the U19 men omnium, where he showed that he has the coolest head, and some of the best bike handling skills, on the track as he held off some pretty physical challenges from World Champion Laurence Pithie.

Navarh Brotherston was an other rider who showed immense promise, and paired with Willis in the Madison to produce an outstanding ride for a fourth place finish against some vastly more experienced competition in a field that combined Elite and U19 riders.

Emily Paterson was rewarded with a medal in the team pursuit, as was Rylee McMullen, but their work rate in the individual events was immense, and the two paired up in the Madison to take on some truly world class combinations, finishing in fourth place after being the only team to consistently take on the top combinations.

Geertien Venter also performed well on debut at Elite Nationals, taking fourth in the Elite women Keirin, having recently stepped up to Elite racing after racing as a master at Age Group Nationals previously and now taking on riders half her age

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