Reigning women's individual pursuit world Alison Shanks will lead a strong New Zealand squad at the UCI Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the focus on honing the side for the Commonwealth Games in India later this year.
The New Zealanders have performed well at World Cup level and head coach Tim Carswell said he hopes the team can build upon that momentum. “This is a strong squad and our focus has been to get them in the best possible form at this stage. I would like to think we can make gains as we work towards the Commonwealth Games later in the year and on to the 2012 London Olympics,” Carswell said.
“We are expecting more strength across the board at this year’s world championships with Commonwealth countries building for New Delhi and other key nations establishing their programmes towards London.”
In addition to Shanks, who will ride both individual and team pursuits, the squad boasts talented youngsters Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley, plus Wes Gough, Peter Latham and Marc Ryan.
After rising to prominence when he won the scratch race and Madison at last November's UCI Track World Cup round in Melbourne, Tom Scully will also compete in Denmark where he'll be aiming to further enhance his reputation as a tearaway 20-year-old with plenty of potential.
While the focus appears to be on the endurance side, Carswell said that the team's sprint stocks also have something to offer. He'll be taking five riders - Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins, Adam Stewart and Simon Van Velthooven - to compete against the might of the British, French and Australian squads.
"We decided that the sprint programme has improved to a stage where we wanted to ensure we have covered all eventualities in Copenhagen, and hence we are taking the fifth rider," he explained.
"There were some unlucky riders which is an indication of the depth we are developing across the board in the programme which is exciting."
New Zealand team for UCI Track World Championships:
Men: Sam Bewley, Eddie Dawkins, Wes Gough, Peter Latham, Ethan Mitchell, Marc Ryan, Tom Scully, Jesse Sergent, Myron Simpson, Adam Stewart, Simon Van Velthooven, Sam Webster
Women: Rushlee Buchanan, Gemma Dudley, Lauren Ellis, Jaime Neilsen, Alison Shanks