Cycling: BikeNZ's hard Olympic pick

By Dylan Cleaver

Shane Archbold in action in the omnium at the Oceania track cycling championships in Invercargill.
Shane Archbold in action in the omnium at the Oceania track cycling championships in Invercargill.

BikeNZ's worst fears have been confirmed with world cycling's governing body saying there will be just 14 spots available on the track at the Olympics - eight men and six women.

For the track team for the Olympics being named today, it means something will have to give.

While it won't affect the composition of the female team, spearheaded by the three-person team pursuit, it squeezes their options for the men significantly.

Omnium rider Shane Archbold isn't a genuine contender for the team pursuit, so the selectors will have to go with a 4-3-1 split - Archbold, four pursuiters and three sprinters.

The men's team sprint in Melbourne this month was Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins. They won bronze after Germany and Great Britain were disqualified. But arguably the best-performed sprinter of the world champs was Simon van Velthooven, who won bronze in the non-Olympic kilo and missed a medal in the keirin after he was demoted.

Similarly, the men's team pursuit of Marc Ryan, Sam Bewley, Aaron Gate and Westley Gough won world championship bronze, but one will likely drop out when Jesse Sergent, New Zealand's strongest pursuiter, is named today.

There is some wiggle room, however. One male and female rider can be dragged from one of the other cycling disciplines - road, mountainbike and BMX - into the track team. There are several permutations here, some more far-fetched than others, but in terms of the men that could see a pursuiter picked in the road team.

With three races over two days, a fifth rider for the rotation could be vital and, realistically, it's the pursuit where New Zealand is most likely to see success in London. The sprinters, while on an impressively steep learning curve, are viewed as a team for the future as much as the present.

- NZ Herald

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