BikeNZ enjoyed a triple winning day as their 2016 Rio Olympic campaign began in Europe today.
London Olympic medallist Simon van Velthooven and teenage star Dylan Kennett enjoyed victories on the second day of the UCI tier one international track event in Spain while outstanding prospect Michael Vink prevailed in a prestigious UCI 1.2 category road race in Belgium.
This follows the win by Southland’s Eddie Dawkins on the first day of the track event at the Luis Puig Velodrome in Valencia on Sunday (NZ time) as well as solid first-up performances from the BMX team in USA.
The BikeNZ men’s track endurance team, based in Belgium, produced a strong team effort at the Philippe Coningsloo Memorial, the highest category UCI amateur event. It attracted the leading amateurs, national and Pro Continental teams for the 185km race that included a final six laps of a 14.2km circuit with a 1.2km section of cobbles each lap.
Vink, with the support of Fraser Gough and the experienced Marc Ryan, pushed into a break two and a half laps from the finish. A splinter group of eight went clear including Vink while Ryan and Gough drifted back to the peloton that managed to get within 20 seconds of the break on the final lap.
However Vink, Petr Vacok (CZE) and Nicolas Vereecken (NED) pushed clear with the young Christchurch rider prevailing in a 400m drag race to the line.
“I am very happy to have this win,” Vink said. “It was a tough day with the strong winds and the cobbles, and it was a difficult finish.
“We knew the bunch was close and we could not muck around too much. It is my best victory in Europe and good for the team.”
Vink said the New Zealand team were unsure of their prospects after coming off a hard three-day training block on the track in Ghent during the week.
“My focus is to build for the Olympic Games and it is good to have this win along the way.”
Kennett, a medallist in last year’s junior track world championship, went into the second day of the omnium on the track at Valencia in second place.
He drew level with Spaniard Sebastian Mora after the scratch race, and claimed the overall honours in the six-discipline event after winning the 1000m time trial in 1:03.720.
It was an outstanding performance from the Waimate 18-year-old in a field that included Olympic bronze medallist Ed Clancy. He and Southland’s Pieter Bulling will now rejoin the track endurance group in Belgium.
Olympic star van Velthooven showed his class with a commanding win in the final of the men’s keirin.
Both he and yesterday’s sprint winner, Dawkins qualified for the major final after dominant displays. Dawkins led out strongly until he was rounded up by teammate van Velthooven on the last turn with the Manawatu rider going on to win.
It was an excellent performance in a class field that included kilo world champion Francois Pervis and double Olympic sprint medallist Kevin Sireau, both of France.
Earlier Invercargill’s Matt Archibald finished 10th after placing fourth in the B final.
Across the Atlantic the BMX team had a solid start to their campaign at the USA BMX national event in Nashville on Saturday and Sunday (NZ time) with a series of top-six placings, and will move on to the next round in Utah this weekend.
CAPTION: Dylan Kennett in action at the UCI World Cup in Glasgow last November. (Credit: Gerry McManus Photography)