The details make the task simpler for the New Zealand women's team pursuit at this week's world track championships in Hong Kong - not easier, but certainly clearer.

Fourth placings at both the worlds in London last year and the Rio Olympics, behind the same three teams, Britain, the United States and Canada, have told the quintet of Racquel Sheath, Te Awamutu's Rushlee Buchanan, Jaime Nielsen of Hamilton, boom Palmerston North junior rider Michaela Drummond and Dunedin's Kirstie James, what is required when the first round starts late tonight.

"[Rio] was definitely a bitter sweet moment for all of us," gifted rider Sheath said.

"So close, but so far at the same time. We'd been fourth at the worlds but we were a lot closer. So we went into Rio with, not expectations of medalling, but hopes.


"Now we expect more of ourselves. We know we have the ability to get closer to a medal and the podium, so hopefully this will be an opportunity for us to do that."

After the 2012 London Olympics the women's programme was scaled down by cycling's bosses, who decided the talent was not there and that resources should be thrown into the men's programme. Those days are gone and there's a belief in the capabilities of the women.

Sheath said there's a confidence within the women's group that they are heading in the right direction.

"For sure. It's become a lot more equal within the squads. We've been given equal opportunities and that has helped us a lot.

"We're getting opportunities to get out there and ride and show what we're made of. That's proved to them we are able and they have definitely started believing in us and are pushing us to the top."

There's a seam of self-belief running through the women's pursuit team. In Rio, they were beaten in the bronze ride-off by Canada, New Zealand clocking 4m 18.459s, less than 4s behind the Canadians. Britain won gold in a world record 4m 10.236s, with the US taking silver.

In London earlier in the year at the worlds, the same quartet were fourth in 4m 20.225s, beaten by Britain in 4m 16.540s.

Sheath is 22, but an old hand at two-wheel racing. Born in Waikato and brought up in Auckland, she moved in 2014 down to Cambridge, where the world class Avantidrome facility is situated.

She started in BMX at five and this is her 11th year in cycling. She's in her third year in the elite squad. Last year was "massive, a huge learning curve, and it set a whole new level of racing for me".

Time was when New Zealand's leading women's track cyclists felt under-appreciated. Not so now.

"The girls who went to London [2012 Olympics] were feeling a bit down and questioning it all. Now we're looking forward to Tokyo [2020 Olympics] and running at that medal opportunity."

There's good history in the discipline with silver, bronze and bronze world champs medals for the women in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Those placings at the worlds last year and Rio have told them plenty about their standing in the discipline's pecking order.

"For the most part, we know what we have to do to get to the top step and we're working to achieve that," Sheath said.

The men's team pursuit are also on late tonight, aiming to better a disappointing fourth at Rio.