It was back at the Central Hawke's Bay Sports Awards function in Waipukurau in November and I could see it in the eyes of Bay cyclist Regan Gough.

Something special was being brewed by his New Zealand men's pursuit team. It was at that function, where he collected the supreme award for a fourth consecutive year, that he mentioned he was unlikely to race in the Napier-hosted national road championships earlier this month because of his track commitments ... that was further confirmation.

That sacrifice paid off for 22-year-old Gough and his teammates Campbell Stewart, Jordan Kerby and Nicholas Kergozou as they captured gold on the opening night of the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Cambridge on Friday. It was the first World Cup victory in over a year from the Kiwis men's sprint team who are three-time world champions.

The Kiwis set the second fastest time in history with 3:50.159 clocked in the final against Canada. This is a new best time by more than two seconds and Gough and co came within four tenths of a second of breaking a world record.


The New Zealand team were in control throughout the competition setting the fastest time in qualifying before setting a new national record of 3:51.722, with Tom Sexton riding in the place of Kergozou. The record would stand for only a matter of hours however until the final.

A fast 1:02 opening kilometre set New Zealand up to power away with an increasingly vocal packed crowd cheering them on - 56s, 55s and 56s kilometres over the remainder of the race saw them come within touching distance of the world mark and again lower the New Zealand national record.

Gough's long-time Hawke's Bay-based mentor Ivar Hopman said the times recorded by the Kiwis were amazing.

"In the final eight of the 16 laps were done in around 13 seconds. At their last World Cup event the Kiwi men did 15s laps. These World Cup events are all about qualification points for the Olympics.

"This Kiwi team has been together since September and they are settling in well together. All the gym work they do along with other training at their Cambridge base is paying off," Hopman said.

He pointed out Gough is benefiting from a lot of testing done in the sports science lab at EIT by another successful Bay cycling coach Carl Patton.

"It's all about looking for that extra edge as we build for Tokyo," Hopman said referring to next year's Olympics.

Gough was a member of the Kiwi team which finished fourth at the Rio Olympics and is no stranger to winning gold on the international stage. At the 2014 junior world champs he won gold in the points race and then combined with fellow Bay rider Luke Mudgway to win gold in the Madison.


In 2015 he was a member of the Kiwi team pursuit outfit which won gold in France.

"Regan is only 22 but he has so much experience as a senior. He is the older statesman of this Kiwi team with lots of experience," Hopman said.

"Track guys can have a shelf life until they are 35 so on the track Regan has a big future," Hopman explained.

He stressed that to be successful on the track riders must put in the necessary time on the road. Gough has got this balance right and from Wednesday until Sunday will compete in the Waikato-based New Zealand Classic.

From February 28 to March 4 Gough will represent New Zealand at the world track championships in Poland.

Hopman believed the home crowd was a big advantage on Friday night and Stewart agreed.

"Straight after we finished the ride, we could see Canada out of the corner of our eye, so I looked straight up at the board... I knew we were going fast, but to actually ride that quick, you don't really think about it until it's actually happened," Stewart said.

"So yeah I looked straight up at the board and was amazed and then it's partly because of the crowd out there that really cheered us on all the way to the line. We couldn't even hear our coach telling us what to do, but I guess we were riding on feel and just kept on going," he added.