Strong BikeNZ squad chases World Cup honours in Manchester

BikeNZ will send a 12-strong squad to the next week's final round of the UCI Track World Cup in Manchester ahead of next month's world championships.

The squad will fly out of New Zealand at the weekend to chase World Cup honours after completing a training camp in Invercargill.

The women's team pursuit squad currently tops the World Cup standings, as does Alison Shanks in the individual pursuit. The men's team pursuit is currently third in overall ranks as is Shane Archbold in the omnium and the men's team sprint combination.

The team will contest the team pursuits, men's individual pursuit, omniums, men's team sprint, individual sprint and men's keirin in the three-day meet that has attracted a showdown of the big names in cycling, with the British team attracting World Tour stars Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas back to the track.

The BikeNZ coaching staff have changed their focus for the Manchester World Cup.

"We rejigged our programme for this World Cup because we want to replicate our lead in for the world championships in 2012 and on to the Olympics," said head coach Tim Carswell. "We now have a bigger team and most of these riders will carry on to the world championships next month."

The team has the opportunity to earn rare World Cup series success in the process.

"The women's team pursuit have performed really well and are in the box seat to win the World Cup title. And Alison Shanks has already won the individual pursuit title which is not on the schedule for Manchester.

"Shane Archbold in the omnium and the men's team pursuit missed the last round but with exceptional results could claim titles. It's the same for the team sprint combination.

"One of the pleasing things is that we are so competitive across the board especially as we have missed a World Cup."

Carswell said the focus is to use the meet as an important stepping stone towards next month's world championships and get a gauge on the key competition.

"Don't expect our athletes to be in absolute blistering form because it's still six weeks away to the worlds. But I was impressed with the development in Invercargill.

"For us Manchester is a step along the road towards our aim to compete at the world championships with strong teams capable of contending for world titles."

Auckland 20 year old Aaron Gate gets his chance to step up into the men's pursuit team alongside Olympians Marc Ryan, Wes Gough and Peter Latham, with Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley away on race duties with their Radioshack World Tour team. The experienced Ryan will assume the duties in the individual pursuit in Manchester.

The women have arguably their top combination for Manchester with Shanks, Lauren Ellis and Jaime Nielsen, with Great Britain bringing back Beijing pursuit gold medallist Rebecca Romero for new team pursuit.

The 21-year-old Archbold has a further chance to cement selection and a top three placing in the fledgling men's omnium, the six-discipline event that will make its Olympic debut in London. Experienced Cantabrian Jo Kiesanowski gets another opportunity to develop in the new Olympic track event after several years concentrating on life as a professional road racer in USA and

The young sprint combination of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins has another opportunity to develop in the team sprint, sprint and keirin. Simon van Velthooven, the winner in the Beijing round of the World Cup, is being rested. This provides an excellent chance for former triple world junior champion Webster, who has also earned an invitation among 21 riders to compete in the Japan Keirin Association styled-event, boasting $130,000 prize money, to be held on the final day of the meet.


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