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Two more NZ medals at track world champs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/04/2017

Aaron Gate has bagged an omnium silver medal and Ethan Mitchell a historic sprint bronze on the penultimate day of the track cycling world championships in Hong Kong.

By climbing the podium in two individual events, New Zealand add to medals won in three team disciplines to further enhance their international status.

The five medals won this week - including gold in the men's team sprint - lifts New Zealand to second on the overall tally, eclipsed only by the 10 claimed by Australia.

Gate went within a whisker of adding to his 2013 omnium world title, finishing just two points behind Frenchman Benjamin Thomas in the multi-discipline event.

The 26-year-old, who has spent most of this year racing on the roads of Europe, adapted quickly to a new format in which four bunch races are completed on the same day.

Gate was sixth in the scratch race and then won the tempo race, after putting two laps on the field and winning the last three sprints.

That good work was undone when he managed only 10th in the elimination race.

However, Gate bounced back to win the 40km points race.

Overall victory came down to the final sprint, which was clinched by Thomas.

"I wasn't really sure what to expect coming into the competition as it was the first time it had been run under this format at the world championships," Gate said.

"I was keen to give it a nudge and race as hard and honestly as I could."

Mitchell, the starter for the victorious sprint team, stepped into new territory by becoming the first Kiwi to win an individual sprint medal.

After finishing fourth fastest in a personal best in qualifying, Mitchell saw off Australian Matthew Glaetzer 2-1 in the quarter-finals.

Kiwis Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins were both eliminated at the same stage, beaten respectively by Russian Denis Dmitriv and Dutchman Harrie Lavreysen, who went on to contest the final.

Eventual champion Dmitriv beat Mitchell in the semi-finals, pushing the Kiwi into a race for bronze against Briton Ryan Owens.

Mitchell was thrilled after winning the ride-off 2-0.

"Our whole sprint squad is going really well and it could have been any one of us tonight," he said.

"I'm pretty new to the whole sprinting thing. I am fortunate to have mentors like Sam and Eddie and [coach] Anthony Peden to pave the way really."

Elsewhere, the pairing of Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond finished powerfully to place fourth in the women's Madison, won by Belgium.

Jaime Nielsen was sixth in the women's individual pursuit.

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