Waikato's Peter Latham has pushed his claims for selection for the upcoming UCI World Cup in London after winning the individual pursuit title on the first night of finals at the track national championships in Invercargill.
Latham, a Beijing Olympic team's pursuit squad member, beat the challenge from BikeNZ teammate Westley Gough (Waipukurau) in a vital showdown as selectors look to fill the vacant spot in the team pursuit for the London World Cup later this month. World silver medallist Jesse Sergent is not contesting the event because it's not an Olympic sport.
"Any national title is nice to win and I'm pretty satisfied to come through with a good ride tonight," Latham said. "We had a good campaign in Beijing at the World Cup a few weeks ago. I made the most of the opportunity to ride the team's pursuit there and wanted to back that up tonight with a good ride.
"The event the whole team is targeting is the world championships in April in Melbourne. Whether they take me to London in a few weeks or they send me home to train for a weeks, I will just go where I am told."
Latham is one eight team pursuit riders vying for the four Olympic team's pursuit spots.
"There are a lot of hungry guys. It's a pretty good position for BikeNZ to be in. It makes the competition between all of the fellas pretty tight. We just want to make the team go faster."
Latham topped the qualifiers in 4:21.730 just ahead of Gough's 4.22.065. The Waikato man was able to repeat that effort with a 4:21.975 in the final, taking control in the second half of the 4000m battle.
Kaytee Boyd (Waikato/Bay of Plenty) was the best of the women in the 3000m individual pursuit, taking the national title ahead of teammate Rushlee Buchanan.
Both Boyd and Buchanan have been part of the BikeNZ team's pursuit squad at world championship level and are also battling for a spot on the Olympic team.
"Individual pursuits are always a tough ride, but I was confident in myself,' boyd said. "It wasn't really about the title tonight, it was about doing a good ride.
"I'm feeling better all of the time. The conditions aren't too cold, which is really helpful. The bikes we have are amazing, These new Avantis are great and I am pretty rapt with them.
"I find individual pursuit a real mental challenge but I think I am getting better at them slowly. It seems so simple but you have to think the whole way through. You have to slowly release the energy."
Boyd was top qualifier in 3.41.251 for the 3000m with Buchanan nearly 1.5 seconds back. But in a massive battle of two international riders, Boyd pipped Buchanan by 3/1000th of a second in a tremendous race.
Two young riders announced their arrival in the elite ranks with junior worlds medallist Georgia Williams (Auckland) taking the bronze medal ahead of Southland's Sequoia Cooper. Alex Frame (Canterbury) rode a stunning race to catch rival Cameron Karwowski (Southland) in the ride for the bronze medal in the men's event.
BikeNZ riders Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Simon van Velthooven (Auckland) were too strong for their Southland rivals in the team's sprint final. The trio finished in 44.268 seconds to narrowly miss the national record by 3/10ths of a second but took the title ahead of the Southland trio of Regan Sheath, Matt Archibald and Eddie Dawkins.
Sprint specialists Natasha Hansen and Stephanie McKenzie (Southland) paired up to win the women's team's sprint, again finishing just a blink off the national record.