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New Zealand track stars ready for Olympic warm-up

The New Zealand pursuit team gets ready for a practice run.

The New Zealand pursuit team gets ready for a practice run. (Image credit: AFP Photo)

New Zealand will be hoping that their record breaking sprint team can carry on their form from the recent national championships in Invercargill, and put the All-Blacks in contention for medals at the upcoming Track World Cup in London.

With three national records and four titles between then, Southland's Natasha Hansen and Dunedin's Katie Schofield were among the most impressive in Invercargill, and have put themselves right in the picture for World Championship qualification - a vital part of their bids for Olympic berths.

They will be joined by the successful young men's quartet of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Simon van Velthooven.

"The women's sprint pair has continued to do everything we have asked of them," said BikeNZ High Performance Director, Mark Elliott. "They have demanded selection on form and they are on track if they continue to improve to qualify for the world championships. They have earned that chance.

"The bigger picture of the Olympics is a bit further down the road. We are treating the qualification process one step at a time and not getting too far ahead of ourselves."

"We are definitely keying on the world championships at this stage. We obviously want to ride well in London but the whole focus is using this World Cup as a key preparation towards the world championships."

The endurance team has been reshuffled with Jesse Sergent sitting out the event, with commitments on the road. Westley Gough has won the race to capture his spot, with National Individual Pursuit champion Peter Latham a difficult omission for the selection team.

Gough will join the Oceania-winning trio of Sam Bewley, Marc Ryan and Aaron Gate, while the women's trio remains unchanged from the Cali World Cup-winning combination of Alison Shanks, Jaime Nielsen and Lauren Ellis.

The squad go into camp at Invercargill from today before travelling to London at the weekend.

The BikeNZ team for the London World Cup on 16-19 February:

Endurance, men: Marc Ryan, Sam Bewley, Aaron Gate, Westley Gough, Shane Archbold. Coach: Tim Carswell.

Women: Alison Shanks, Jaime Nielsen, Lauren Ellis, Joanne Kiesanowski. Coach: Dayle Cheatley.

Sprint, men: Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Simon van Velthooven. Coach: Justin Grace.

Women: Natasha Hansen, Katie Schofield, Coach Stu MacDonald.