Track rider Simon van Velthooven came away with two gold medals from the NZ Elite Track Championships that were held over Waitangi weekend at the indoor ITL Velodrome in Invercargill. With 2012 Olympic spots up for grabs, Palmerston North based Simon decided to join forces with Auckland sprinters Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster, who were also looking to impress selectors and stake their claims for spots in the NZ sprint team.
Racing against a strong Southland combination that included Eddie Dawkins and Matt Archibald, also vying for berths in the same team, was never going to be a pushover.
The Auckland team proved too strong in the end finishing in a time of 44:268s, finishing 1.4s ahead of their rivals. Such competition was always going to create significant interest and ultimately bragging rights when the two powerhouses of NZ sprinting came together.
Simon van Velthooven’s second gold came in his preferred event – the men’s Keirin. With temperatures inside the velodrome reaching over 30 degree celsius, a fast race was expected. Again racing against other notable riders that included close rivals Dawkins and Archibald, Simon rode smartly to extend an unassailable lead well before the last lap. While the gap did close, Simon had too much strength and experience and was able to hold off his pursuers and take the gold medal in an exciting sprint finish for the line.
Simon now heads to London with the NZ cycling team to compete in the UCI World Cup in London, providing further opportunities for him to cement a place in the team. The results during the Elite competition will certainly provide some confidence in the squad as they continue their build up to the London Olympics.