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Sprint team weren't seeking revenge in world title ride

The New Zealand sprint team celebrate after winning gold at the track world championships. Photo / AP
The New Zealand sprint team celebrate after winning gold at the track world championships. Photo / AP

Consistency and attention to detail have been identified as the hallmarks to the New Zealand team sprint cyclists' second world championship victory in London this morning.

The long-serving trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins eventually accelerated through their Netherlands rivals in the final, having left Germany, France, Australia and Britain in their slipstream from the qualification round.

The Kiwis finished in 43.257s, beating the Dutch by 0.212s. Their average speed was 62.417km/h compared to 62.113km/h.

Dawkins clawed back a 0.068s deficit at the end of the second lap. He flew around the boards in 13.143s.

Speaking to NZME, Webster paid tribute to their planning.

"We've turned up to London in good condition and aware of the track demands.

It's the fourth year on the trot we've qualified in first place. I felt like we were 'on' today, and we brought it home in the nitty-gritty of the final, when Big Eddie crossed the line. Moments like that are why you ride your bike.

Listen: Sam Webster talks to Radio Sport after the sprint team secured gold

"We were aware of the small deficit at the start [when Mitchell had a minor slip in the gate] but we train ourselves down to the last 1000th of a second and Anthony [coach Anthony Peden] is big on us driving through the second half of our laps fast towards the line."

The Dutch trained in New Zealand over summer but Webster said they never trained together.

"We chose to stick to our guns and not change our preparation, and training at home over our summer has paid off.

"However, the Olympics are the ultimate. Some people will cook it and get their preparation wrong. We're just looking to keep our house in check, and do a solid debrief. If anything the hunger is bigger and we'll be going hell for leather in Rio."

It's the second rainbow jersey for the trio, after a maiden title in 2014. Peden stood trackside with the national flag and the smiles were as wide as the home straight.

The New Zealanders were disqualified against France for overlapping a wheel on transition last year.

Webster said revenge wasn't sought.

"We went out and won this world title, we didn't dwell on last year. That's how we had to get across the line. I was trying to hold no malice."

"Their set up and execution was probably the best we've seen, which is exciting, given what lies ahead," Cycling New Zealand high performance director Mark Elliott said. "It showed the consistency we know they're capable of, and the form of Eddie and Sam to recover quickly after Ethan's minor slip in the gate."

"They've been special guys since they became junior world champions. We knew they were class years ago. It's a fantastic journey to be part of."

The London result offers a chance to consolidate, ruminate and channel their energy into the hunt for Rio glory. No New Zealand team of three or more athletes have won gold since 1984. Barring gold from the team pursuiters, the sprinters will be tagged New Zealand's medal priority for the Games. That means the limited team spaces will be built around their foundation.

Mitchell, Webster and Dawkins finished 0.2s faster than the Netherlands in their heat. Again, Dawkins delivered the decisive last lap of 13.213s which took them from second to first.

Elsewhere, New Zealand will take on Australia in the first round of the men's team pursuit tomorrow.

Dylan Kennett, Piet Bulling, Nick Kergozou and Aaron Gate were the third fastest qualifiers in 3m 57.050s.

Great Britain, led by Sir Bradley Wiggins, were fastest in 3m 55.664s ahead of Australia in 3m 55.867s, New Zealand and Denmark.

The hosts take on Denmark in one match, with the Kiwis, who won the world title in Paris last year, against Australia. The winners earn a place in the final.

New Zealand were 10th fastest in the women's team pursuit with Natasha Hansen and teenage debutant Olivia Podmore clocking 33.932s.

Rio team selections will be made in June after Cycling New Zealand send submissions for New Zealand Olympic Committee approval.

- NZ Herald

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