22-year-old Simon Van Velthooven wrapped up a successful weekend of racing at the UCI Track World Cup in Beijing, coming home with his first career World Cup gold medal in the keirin and a bronze in the kilometre time trial.
The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in the keirin showed he is on strong form by claiming the opening round, the semifinal and the final, topping more experienced riders such as Azizulhasni Awang (Malaysia) and Commonwealth Games kilo gold medallist Scott Sunderland (Australia).
"Simon was untouchable tonight," said BikeNZ head coach Tim Carswell after the second night of racing. "He won the semifinal soft pedalling the whole front straight. And in the final he placed himself perfectly with a lap and a half to go and going through the bell he just unleashed over the top of them all.
"This is just reward for a huge amount of hard work and with a string of fourth placings, it is fantastic to see him take the step up on to the top of the podium."
The win pushed Van Velthooven to second overall in the World Cup standings behind Cali winner Awang.
"It's been a good build-up. My race head was good today and it was finally good to get a medal at a world cup and even better to win a gold," Van Velthooven said. "I've had many keirin finals and it's always been bad luck so to fire up and get it today was relieving more than anything."
Van Velthooven said his experience racing in the professional circuit in Japan has helped.
"It has taught me to be patient but not hesitate when the move comes. The win gives me more confidence. My race times were good. I know I can race the best in the world.
Van Velthooven followed up the performance with a third place overall in kilometre time trial to give New Zealand its third medal after his keirin and the women's team pursuit gold medals.
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