Shanks looking to defend individual pursuit title

World champion leading young squad in Copenhagen

Alison Shanks hopes to retain her individual pursuit title at this week’s International Cycling Union (UCI) World Track Championships, despite finishing runner-up at her last outing against Wendy Houvenaghel. While the British rider took the gold medal home from the Track World Cup round in Melbourne, Australia late last year, New Zealand’s Shanks believes her worlds training will hold her in good stead.

“I’ve laid down a really good base, with more strength and endurance work than ever before,” said Shanks. “The speed phase has gone really well and I am looking forward to the competition.”

Shanks is one of the most experienced riders in New Zealand’s squad for the Copenhagen, Denmark event. Shanks won the 3000m individual pursuit title at last year’s event in Poland after breaking the 3:30 minute barrier for the first time.

Shanks will be joined in the event by compatriot Jaime Nielsen, a former world under-23 champion rower who took up cycling less than two years ago.

Adam Stewart has been awarded the final spot in the men’s team sprint squad, joining triple world junior champion Sam Webster and national sprint and kilo champion Eddie Dawkins. Stewart won the start over Aucklander Ethan Mitchell, who was part of the world junior champion team sprint combination last year.

New Zealand national coach Tim Carswell explained the choice to use Stewart over Mitchell, who will contest the men’s sprint and the kilo. “There was very little between the two of them. With all of our trials and testing the pair of them were so similar but in this instance Stewart has got the nod with his experience and he provides a really good platform as the vital lead-off rider,” he said.

Jayco Bay Cycling Classic stage winner Tom Scully will make his elite world championships debut in the points race. Scully has enjoyed a remarkable rise, winning five medals in World Cup competition over the last four months.

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