Webster leads 30-strong cycling team for Commonwealth Games

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

New Zealand will be well represented in the cycling events at this year's Commonwealth Games, with 30 cyclists named for the team travelling to Birmingham.

Sam Webster of New Zealand in action during the men's sprint qualifying

The squad will represent Aotearoa across track, road and mountain, and features 15 rookies alongside some experienced campaigners.

Among those returning to the Commonwealth Games is Sam Webster, who will be looking to add to his seven medals and four golds in his fourth Commonwealth campaign.

Webster will be joined in the men's sprint team by Olympic teammates Sam Dakin and Callum Saunders, along with Bradly Knipe.

The women's sprint team features Tokyo silver medallist Ellesse Andrews along with Olivia King, Emily Shearman and Rebecca Petch; the latter opting to miss the BMX World Championships as they run at the same time as the Commonwealth Games.

Ellesse Andrews, pictured at last year's Olympics won gold in the keirin in Brisbane on Sunday.

Eleven other Kiwis cyclists are also heading to Lee Valley VeloPark for the track events, broken down into a team of four women and seven men.

Experienced campaigner Aaron Gate is looking to put his ugly crash in the men's team pursuit bronze medal race at last year's Olympics in Tokyo behind him as he teams up with WorldTour riders Corbin Strong and Campbell Stewart. George Jackson, Jordan Kerby, Nick Kergozou and Tom Sexton round out the men's team.

The women's endurance team has a new look to it after multiple injuries and retirements since Tokyo. It will be led by an in-form Bryony Botha, who broke the New Zealand individual pursuit record four times over summer.

Bryony Botha

Botha will be joined by Michaela Drummond, Emily Shearman and Ally Wollaston.

Gate and Wollaston will also compete in the road teams with Gate lining up alongside Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jack Bauer, Patrick Bevin and Dion Smith. Wollaston will race with with No 1 world younger rider of 2021 Niamh Fisher-Black, Mikayla Harvey, Ella Harris, Gold Coast silver medallist Georgia Williams and Henrietta Christie.

North of Birmingham at Cannock Chase Forest, New Zealand will chase more medals in the mountain biking arena with the Kiwi combo of Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze back again looking to take the top two spots in the men's cross country.

Anton Cooper during the 2021  New Zealand Mountain Biking Cross Country Championship.

Cooper won gold at Glasgow in 2014 before the order was reversed on the Gold Coast in 2018 with a gold for Gaze after an infamous race in which Gaze accused Cooper of poor sportsmanship and gave him a well-publicised hand gesture.

Joining the pair with be World No.38 Ben Oliver.

Cycling NZ CEO Monica Robbers said they were excited to see the team thrive in Birmingham despite the tight timeframe for rebuilding the squad after the delayed Tokyo Olympics and illness and injuries also popping up.

"That aside, we think this is a very strong group of riders. Half are very experienced professionals with success over previous Games and on the world scene, and the other half are young and exciting riders for the future," Robbers said.

"We are thrilled that so many European-based professionals have put up their hands which shows how much it means to wear the silver fern and to do our sport and our country proud."

Friday's selections come after a turbulent year for Cycling NZ including the sudden death of sprint cyclist Olivia Podmore. The resulting review found an unhealthy culture within the organisation that diminished "the mana of athletes".

The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 147.

NZ cycling team for 2022 Commonwealth Games

Road:

Female: Ally Wollaston, Henrietta Christie, Niamh Fisher-Black, Ella Harris, Mikayla Harvey, Georgia Williams

Male: Shane Archbold, Jack Bauer, Patrick Bevin, Dion Smith, Aaron Gate, Campbell Stewart. Reserves: Laurence Pithie, Logan Currie

Track, Sprint:

Female: Ellesse Andrews, Olivia King, Rebecca Petch, Emily Shearman

Male: Sam Dakin, Bradly Knipe, Callum Saunders, Sam Webster

Track, Endurance:

Female: Bryony Botha, Michaela Drummond, Emily Shearman, Ally Wollaston

Male: Aaron Gate, George Jackson, Jordan Kerby, Nick Kergozou, Tom Sexton, Campbell Stewart, Corbin Strong

Mountain Bike:

Male: Anton Cooper, Sam Gaze, Ben Oliver.