New Zealand's stellar men's sprint team have snared gold on the opening night of the world track cycling championships in Hong Kong.

And that reinforces Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins' standing among the finest track riders on the planet.

The trio beat the Netherlands in the final, clocking 44.049 seconds, .333s ahead of the Dutch to win their third world crown in the last four years.

In the odd year out, 2015, they crossed the line first but were relegated for an illegal change in the final.


New Zealand were the dominant team through the event.

They were fastest in qualifying, 43.267s, ahead of France and Britain.

In the first round, they produced a 43.183s time, with the Dutch managing 43.481, good enough for the gold rideoff, ahead of France and Poland, who battled for the bronze.

The French got the other podium spot with a 43.536 time, eclipsing Poland by .162s.
At last year's Rio Olympics, Mitchell, Webster and Dawkins won silver, finishing behind an outstanding British trio.

It's just the start New Zealand wanted to the finals, and also with their eyes further afield on the Tokyo Olympics, where they have made it plain their primary focus lies.

They have adopted new approaches in training in preparing for the worlds, freshening up and introducing strategic changes, such as more time in the gym.

"I think we're going the best we have, on a par with Rio," Mitchell said a couple of days ago.

"Things are going really well and it's encouraging that we've done a bit different style of training and still managed to come collectively at a high level."

Eddie Dawkins, left, and Ethan Mitchell celebrate after winning the gold medal in the Men's Team Sprint. Photo / AP
Eddie Dawkins, left, and Ethan Mitchell celebrate after winning the gold medal in the Men's Team Sprint. Photo / AP

The proof of that came through early today.

And there was more good news for New Zealand on the opening finals night, with the men's team pursuit qualifying for the gold rideoff tonight.

The quartet of Regan Gough, Piet Bulling, Dylan Kennett and Nick Kergozou will square off against Austrlaia in the final, having posted the second best time in the qualifying ride, 3min 53.422.

Australia were best in a seriously slick 3:50.577.

The Aussies won silver at Rio behind Britain when New Zealand were a disappointing fourth.

In the first round, Australia clocked 3:54.125 to New Zealand's 3:54.363, hinting at a cracking final.

Italy and Britain will ride off for bronze.

The women's team pursuit have some work to do. The quartet of Michaela Drummond, Racquel Sheath, Rushlee Buchanan and Jaime Nielsen were sixth fastest in their qualifying ride, recording 4:22.776.

The United States were fastest in 4:17.722 with Australia second best in 4:18.659.