It's not pushing the boat out too far to suggest New Zealand's 2020 Olympic campaign for team sprinting gold is off to a cracking start.

The gun trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins won their third world championship gold in Hong Kong early today to reinforce their standing among the finest combinations on the track.

New Zealand clocked 44.049s to beat the Netherlands, 44.382s, in the gold rideoff.
Since 2012, they've never been off the podium at world championships.

It is, of course, far too soon to be talking Halberg Awards, piles of sport to come in the eligible time frame this year. And past performances don't count in the assessment. But the three good mates have set a high standard.

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The disappointment of Rio last year still burns. Britain beat them in a cracking gold-silver battle.

"We rode the best team sprint we'd ever done, three times," Mitchell said. "There was literally nothing else we could have done on that day and we got beaten by a better team, so we have to say hats off to that team."

A bit like what the Dutch might be thinking right now.

New Zealand were fastest in qualifying, albeit by just 0.1s ahead of 2015 world champs France, went faster in the first round ride, 43.183 as the Dutch leapt to second best and a place in the final.

The final ride was less than perfect, but good enough to clip the Dutch by .333s.

"As a team we showed a lot of grit in that last ride. The final was one of the messiest rides we've done but sometimes the hardest fought battles are the most rewarding," Mitchell said.

"To come out on top reassures us how tight we are as a squad and proud we are of each other to do it a second year in a row."

Add in they were using all New Zealand-made equipment and it adds an extra dimension to the success, including wheels developed by yachting mast manufacturers Southern Spars.

Mitchell talked of the "fire in the belly" for the years to come. The trio's focus is solidly on Tokyo 2020, but this is undoubtedly a significant stepping stone.

Before setting off for Hong Kong, Cycling New Zealand chief executive Andrew Matheson expressed confidence that the lost funding out of the Rio disappointment would be regained with strong form at the world championships. So far, he couldn't ask for much more.

New Zealand's team sprint world championship record, with Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins
2012: Bronze
2013: Silver
2014: Gold
2015: Silver (relegated for illegal change during the final)
2016: Gold
2017: Gold