Cycling: Shanks to race for gold

Alison Shanks. Photo / Simon Baker.
Alison Shanks. Photo / Simon Baker.

New Delhi - New Zealand's quest for a track cycling gold medal picked up pace after Alison Shanks easily qualified fastest for tonight's individual pursuit final.

Shanks was in razor sharp form, completing the 3000m journey in three minutes 32.144 seconds to set up a final against Northern Ireland arch rival Wendy Houvenaghel later today.

The Dunedin rider was more than two seconds faster than Houvenaghel, the Beijing Olympics silver medallist, and sets up a rematch of the 2009 world championships final which Shanks won.

Shanks started out strongly in today's penultimate heat, quickly leaving Australian Josephine Tomic in her wake and maintaining a strong pace throughout her ride.

The 27-year-old was fourth at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and repeated that result at the Olympics two years ago.

New Zealand's Jaime Nielsen is also in the hunt for a bronze medal. She clocked 3min 37.607sec to be fourth fastest in the 13-woman field and will ride off against Canada's Tara Whitten.

Points race silver medallist on Wednesday Lauren Ellis was eighth-fastest in 3min 41.592sec.

New Zealand cyclists have won seven medals - four silver and three bronze - at the Indira Ghandi Sports Complex velodrome - and are desperate to claim one of the three golds on offer in today's final session.

New Zealand's other medal hopes today rest with the men's team sprint and the men's 15km scratch race, which features Shane Archbold and Marc Ryan.

Sprinters Eddie Dawkins, Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell are a world class team but must overcome an Australian outfit boasting Shane Perkins and Scott Sunderland, who have dominated at the Games velodrome.

- NZPA

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