James and Gate claim points race honours on final night




New Zealand endurance rider Kirstie James underlined her class with a dominant display on the final night of the Vantage Elite and Under 19 Track National Championships at Invercargill.



Caption: Southland's Kirstie James leads on her way to winning the elite women's 20km points race, while Aaron Gate looks back over his shoulder at Corbin Strong, Mark Stewart and Campbell Stewart in the elite men's points race. (Photo credit: Eugene Bonthuys)


The Southland rider, who had finished third in the elite women’s individual pursuit earlier in the week, rode in the second team sprint side, anchored the southerners to a team pursuit gold and then produced a standout display to take out the 20km points race in a finale to the four-day championship at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome.


James, who took two laps on the field during the 20km, 80-lap race, received fantastic support from her Southland teammates, Nicole Shields and Rylee McMullan who also took a lap and banked the silver medal, with Holly Edmondston (Mid-South Canterbury) third.


“It’s been an excellent day. I wasn’t sure how my legs would pull up after doing the team pursuit and team sprint, but to be honest my legs were so tired that I had to make smart decisions and that really worked in my favour today,” she said.


“Massive thanks to Cycling Southland and the girls, they did so much for me, I really appreciated it. I also want to say that it was really sad not to have some of my teammates who are recovering from crashes and some of the girls who crashed today. I hope I did them proud.”


The elite men’s 30km points race final showcased Southland’s Corbin Strong in the rainbow jersey as the reigning world points race champion amongst a quality field.


Strong claimed the first two sprints before Aaron Gate began to take control of the race, with reigning Commonwealth Games points race champion Mark Stewart - the Scotsman riding for Southland - also prominent.


Regan Gough and Campbell Stewart did their best to break-up the race, but it was Gate who added the title to his individual pursuit crown from Friday, Stewart taking silver and Strong bronze.


“I didn’t think I was going to have the speed in the sprints to match Corbin and Campbell based on what happened last year, so I put on a bigger gear to try and get a lap on everyone and it went the other way. I won a couple of the early sprints and got enough of a buffer to be able to chip away at it right until the end.”


Southland claimed both the women’s and men’s elite and under-19 4000m team pursuit titles, the women’s team with an impressive line-up including New Zealand representatives James and Shields, McMullan and junior world championship rider Emily Patterson.


“The first time we’d ridden as a team was this morning in the warm up, but we came together and produced a really nice team pursuit ride,” James said.


The young Canterbury Black team won silver, backing up after breaking the championship under 19 record with Charlotte Spurway, Jenna Borthwick, Mikaela Grant and Amelia Sykes in the morning, while Auckland took bronze.


The Southland men’s team of New Zealand riders Strong, Tom Sexton and Nick Kergozou, along with Hamish Keast, had their eye on breaking their own championship record in the final, but had to settle for the gold medal after a messy catch against Canterbury, with Waikato-Bay of Plenty taking bronze.


The Southland Red team of Emma Cumming, Nicole Marshall and Emily Paterson took out the elite women’s team sprint from Waikato-Bay of Plenty Gold (Olivia King, Ellesse Andrews, Mya Anderson), with a composite team of Rhiannon Dunn, Shaane Fulton and Olivia Ray third.


Waikato’s Jackson Ogle, Jayden Fleming and Patrick Clancy combined well to take out the elite men’s team sprint from the Canterbury trio of Sebastian Lipp, Josh Scott and Dylan Day. A great ride by Wellington (Chris Watts, Russell Pepperell, Mike Thomas) earned them the bronze medal.


The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Gold combination of Sophie de Vries, Lily Cawood and Prudence Fowler were too strong for Canterbury Black (Borthwick, Sykes and Grant) in the gold medal ride for the under 19 women’s team sprint. Southland’s Alana Breen, Ciara Kelly and Rhylee Akeroyd won bronze.


Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Ewan Cousins, Kyle Aitken and Liam Cavanagh won the under 19 men’s team sprint from the Canterbury trio of Ryan McLeod, Michiel van Heyningen and Michael Audeau. Waikato-Bay of Plenty Black (Jaxson Russell, Jared Mann, Hamish Coltman) were third.


Canterbury’s Jenna Borthwick, who also won the scratch and keirin this week, added the under 19 women’s elimination race with a strong final lap, with Southland’s Rhylee Akeroyd second and Cantabrian Amelia Sykes taking bronze.


Tasman’s Kaio Lart took out the under-19 men’s elimination race after Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Zakk Patterson was relegated to second after the race, with Ronan Shearing (Southland) third.


The Vantage Elite track squad will now have a two-week break before setting their sights on the final campaign through to the Tokyo Olympics.


Saturday Results:


Elite, Women; 4000m team pursuit final: Southland (Kirstie James, Nicole Shields, Emily Paterson, Rhylee McMullen) OVL, 1; Canterbury (Samantha Donnelly, Jenna Borthwick, Mikaela Grant, Amelia Sykes) 2, Auckland (Aimee Blackmore, Samantha Walker, Erin Downie, Maddison Lowry) 4:47.999, 3.


Men 4000 team pursuit final: Southland (Nick Kergozou, Tom Sexton, Hamish Keast, Corbin Strong) OVL, 1; Canterbury (Hugo Jones, Josh Scott, Ryan McLeod, Jonty Harris) 2; Waikato BOP (Kiaan Watts, Daniel Bridgewater, Zac Williams, Zakk Patterson) OVL, 3.


Women 750m team sprint: Southland (Emma Cumming, Nicole Marshall, Emily Patterson) 1l Waikato BOP (Olivia King, Ellesse Andrews, Mya Anderson), 2; Composite (Rhiannon Dunn, Shaane Fulton, Olivia Ray), 3.


Men 750 team sprint: Waikato BOP (Jackson Ogle, Jayden Fleming, Patrick Clancy) 45.415, 1; Canterbury (Sebastian Lipp, Josh Scott, Dylan Day) 46.544, 2; Wellington (Chris Watts, Russell Pepperell, Mike Thomas) 48.100, 3.


Women 20km points race: Kirstie James (Southland) 1, Rylee McMullen (Southland) 2, Holly Edmondston (Mid-South Canterbury) 3).


Men 30km points race: Aaron Gate (Auckland) 1, Mark Stewart (Southland) 2, Corbin Strong (Southland) 3.



Women 750m team sprint: Waikato BOP (Sophie de Vries, Lily Cawood, Prudence Fowler) 52.326, 1; Canterbury (Jenna Borthwick, Amelia Sykes, Mikaela Grant) 52.777, 2 Southland (Alana Breen, Ciara Kelly, Rhylee Akeroyd) 53.921, 3.


Men 750m team sprint: Waikato BOP (Ewan Cousins, Kyle Aitken, Liam Cavanagh) 1; Canterbury (Ryan McLeod, Michiel van Heyningen, Michael Audeau) 2; Waikato BOP (Jaxson Russell, Jared Mann, Hamish Coltman) 3;


Women elimination: Jenna Borthwick (Canterbury) 1, Rhylee Akeroyd (Southland) 2, Amelia Sykes (Canterbury) 3.


Men elimination: Kaio Lart (Tasman) 1; Zakk Patterson (Waikato BOP); Ronan Shearing (Southland) 3.