Sweltering heat in Southland produced some fast times for the opening session of the BikeNZ national track cycling championships in Invercargill today.
The heat was on in the elite men's 250m time trial final, with Auckland's Ethan Mitchell claiming back his own New Zealand record in a time of 17.325 seconds ahead of Southland riders Matt Archibold with 17.578 and Eddie Dawkins with 17.917.
Otago's Katie Schofield also broke her own New Zealand record of 19.595secs to secure gold in the elite women's 250m time trial in a time of 19.326. Southland locals took the other places on the podium, with Stephanie McKenzie claiming silver in 19.730 and Natasha Hansen bronze in 20.211.
London Olympic medallist Aaron Gate (Auckland) qualified fastest in the men's 4000m individual pursuit in a time of 4:21.636 and will ride off against outstanding Christchurch teenage talent Michael Vink in tonight's final with the Cantabrian clocking 4.23.807.
Auckland's Myron Simpson was third fastest in 4.24.397 and will ride off for bronze against Southland's Cameron Karwowski who was fourth fastest in 4.28.154.
The results could have a significant bearing on selections for a new team's pursuit squad with Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley missing from the team which won bronze at the London Olympics.
Olympian Jaime Nielsen (Hamilton) was the fastest qualifier in the women's 3000m individual pursuit in a time of 3:34.410 and will face rising young Aucklander Georgia Williams (3:37.167) in the final.
Fellow Olympian Rushlee Buchanan (Te Awamutu) rode the third fastest time of 3:40.129 and will ride for bronze against Laura Fairweather from Southland, who qualified with 3:40.237
The first night of finals starts at 6.30pm and includes the elite individual pursuit finals for men and women, under-19 time and elite time trials and the under-19 men's scratch race.
Day 1 qualifying:
Men's 250m time trial: Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) 17.325, 1; Matt Archibald (Southland) 17.578, 2; Eddie Dawkins (Southland) 17.917, 3; Sam Webster (Auckland) 17.969, 4.
Women's 250m time trial: Katie Schofield (Otago) 19.326, 1; Stephanie McKenzie (Southland) 19.730, 2; Natasha Hansen (Southland) 20.211, 3; Paige Paterson (Auckland) 20.334, 4.
Men 4000m individual pursuit qualifying: Aaron Gate (Auckland) 4:21.636, 1; Michael Vink (Canterbury) 4:23.807, 2; Myron Simpson (Auckland) 4:24.397, 3; Cameron Karwowski (Southland) 4:28.154, 4.
Women's 3000m individual pursuit qualifying: Jaime Nielsen (Waikato BOP) 3:34.410, 1; Georgia Williams (Auckland) 3:37.167, 2; Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato BOP) 3:40.129, 3; Laura Fairweather (Southland) 3:40.237, 4.