New Zealand's team's pursuit cyclists issued a loud Olympic warning shot with world-class winning performances on the opening night of the Oceania Track Championships in Invercargill last night.
The women's trio of Alison Shanks, Lauren Ellis and Jaime Nielsen produced the fastest time in the world at sea level of 3:19.759, smashing the national record they set in the morning by a further four seconds. Their time was only 19/100ths of a second - a blink of the eye - outside the world record set by the USA at altitude in Mexico.
Minutes later the men's quartet of Marc Ryan, Sam Bewley, Aaron Gate and Jesse Sergent shattered their previous best by more than two seconds in winning the 4000m men's team's pursuit final in a time of 3:55.295.
It marked a stunning night with six New Zealand resident records established on the super slick ILT Velodrome aided by a warm day in Invercargill.
The women trailed Australia early in the 3000m team's pursuit before storming home over the final kilometre, finishing just a fraction outside of the world record. Their time was two seconds better than their previous best, when they set a world record at the world championships in Copenhagen last year.
"We were conservative on schedule early because we were up against a strong Australian team and had to secure the win first,'' coach Dayle Cheatley said. "I thought the girls were really on schedule for a top time and so I let them go over the last kilometre.
"The best thing is that our second team also produced a world-class time and so we have six girls all capable of producing quality performances at the highest level.''
The men produced a superbly judged ride, with Sam Bewley firing in a huge lap-and-a-half to set up a blinding final kilometre.
"We had initially looked at going 3:58 but saw the girls had gone a lot quicker so we re-thought our goals,'' said Bewley. "It gives us a lot of confidence going into the World Cup in Cali. We have been around the 3:58 mark for a few years so this is a big breakthrough.''
The records kept tumbling with Southland-based Natasha Hansen and Otago's Katie Schofield rewriting one of the oldest records, when they won the women's team's sprint final.
They clocked 34.401 to win the final over Australia's Rikki Belder and Tennille Falappi (35.768) to claim the record, previously set in 2007 by Fiona Carswell and Jocelyn Rastrick of 34.632.
Waimate's Dylan Kennett set the first record of the night when he won the under-19 3000m individual pursuit clocking 3:20.435 to beat Australia's Tirian McManus. Kennett, who won a silver medal in the omnium at the recent world junior championships, was 5/100s of a second inside the 2009 record of Canterbury's Michael Vink.
The men's team's sprint trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Simon van Velthooven set the fastest ever time for a New Zealand combination in their morning qualifying ride. They topped qualifiers in 44.074 which eclipsed their previous best of 44.118s set at the Cali World Cup last year.
Mitchell jumped superbly in the final with Webster slightly back but Van Velthooven was four lengths off the back and, while he produced a strong return to win the race, it no doubt cost a further record. They won in 44.468 from the Australian trio of Dan Ellis, Jason Niblett and Peter Lewis who clocked 44.870.
Van Velthooven recovered to generate a magnificent effort to win the gold medal in the men's 1000m time trial in 1:01.157, to set a new national record and a personal best by more than a second.
Hansen was another to follow up an outstanding effort in the team's sprint to win the women's 500m time trial from Australia's Riki Belder in 35.038.
The scratch races all produced some exciting and aggressive racing with Auckland's Racquel Sheath claiming the under-19 women's title in a Kiwi clean sweep.
Australia's team's pursuit world champion Ashley Ankudinoff pounced with two laps remaining to edge out New Zealand omnium champion Jo Kiesanowski and Australia's two-time Olympian Kate Bates.
Local rider Tom Scully cleared out in a solo break 10 laps from the finish of the 15km men's scratch race, only to be caught on the final lap by Auckland's Myron Simpson and Wes Gough making it a New Zealand clean sweep.
The championships continue until Thursday.