A week is a long time in sport and the New Zealand men’s sprint team want to prove that cliché emphatically true in Cambridge tonight.
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Former world champions Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins endured a tough evening in their opening UCI Track Cycling World Cup meeting last Friday night.
They missed the podium in Hong Kong, but more significantly were well down on their New Zealand record-breaking standard set at October’s Oceania Championship in Invercargill.
“The thing that was most frustrating was that we weren’t able to put together our execution and process,” Webster lamented.
“We were still able to put forward some decent times but not at the standard that we hold ourselves to.”
Their best time in Hong Kong was 43.360 seconds in the second of their three rides, eight tenths of a second off their national record and a whopping 1.1 seconds behind current world champions and Hong Kong gold medallists the Netherlands, who Webster describes as “the gold medal standard” as everyone looks ahead to the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
Neither Mitchell, Dawkins or Webster contested the individual sprints over the weekend, choosing to head home early to get a jump on preparations for this weekend.
Webster acknowledges that achieving the necessary changes in a short period of time is tough but not impossible.
“There are certain sessions we can do to work on our execution and dial it in.
“More importantly it comes down to on-the-day; really making sure that you’ve got the resolve and mental head space to go out and do what you have to do.”
The Netherlands team, headlined by 22-year-old superstar Harrie Lavreysen, has not made the trip to Cambridge but the Kiwi trio will have to overcome strong sprint trios from Poland, Russia, China and Australia in order to stand atop the podium.
The evening session start at 6pm tonight with qualifying for the team sprints, before the first round of the team pursuits.