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Sprint trio head NZ hopes at track worlds

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/03/2017

The men's sprint trio once again harbours New Zealand's best medal hope at the track cycling world championships after a 16-strong team was unveiled.

A team dominated by Rio Olympians will be spearheaded by defending men's team sprint champions Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins in Hong Kong from April 12-16.

The proven combination, who claimed silver at the Rio Olympics, showcased their form with victory at the final World Cup round in Los Angeles three weeks ago.

Gold in Hong Kong would be a third world title in four years for the trio, who will have Zac Williams as a support rider if required.

Cycling NZ head coach Dayle Cheatley says the first world championships in the Olympic cycle will also have a developmental feel.

"We are just making a start on the build towards Tokyo," Cheatley said.

"We have events with new formats including the team sprint, team pursuit and omnium, so this is an opportunity to test ourselves against the world's best on how best to prepare for these events."

Three promising youngsters have won selection.

Invercargill 20-year-old Nick Kergozou and Palmerston North teenager Campbell Stewart are in a six-strong men's endurance squad. Kergozou competed at last year's world championships in London, while Stewart has won four world junior championship gold medals.

Eighteen-year-old Michaela Drummond, a silver medallist at last year's junior world championships, is in the women's endurance squad.

Olympian Natasha Hansen is the only female sprinter in the group while the Rio quartet of Racquel Sheath, Jaime Nielsen, Lauren Ellis and Rushlee Buchanan form the core of a women's team pursuit who clinched silver in Los Angeles last month.

The men's endurance group features Rio riders Piet Bulling, Aaron Gate, Regan Gough and Dylan Kennett.

New Zealand team:

Men's endurance: Dylan Kennett, Piet Bulling, Regan Gough, Nick Kergozou, Campbell Stewart, Aaron Gate.

Men's sprint: Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Zac Williams.

Women's endurance: Racquel Sheath, Michaela Drummond, Jaime Nielsen, Lauren Ellis, Rushlee Buchanan.

Women's sprint: Natasha Hansen.

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