Twenty year old cyclist Aaron Gate set the pace on the opening night of the RaboDirect New Zealand Omnium Championships at the ILT Velodrome in Invercargill tonight.
The young Aucklander showed the benefit of consistency, with three third placings in the three disciplines tonight to lead the way in a closely fought and aggressive men's event.
Another 20 year old, Southland-based and Blenheim-born Cameron Karwowski is one point back in second ahead of the experienced pair of Timaru's Marc Ryan and Christchurch's Hayden Roulston, the Beijing double medallist who is making his return to the track.
Fellow Cantabrian Jo Kiesanowski has stamped her class on the women's omnium, winning all three disciplines - the flying lap, points race and elimination - to clear out from Levin's Gemma Dudley and Christchurch junior Liz Steel.
BikeNZ coaches wanted their endurance riders to compete in the omnium primarily as a litmus test of their progress as part of a national training camp.
Tonight showed that a group of talented young riders are keen to throw down the challenge to the dominance of the more experienced campaigners.
Gate was consistent throughout, third behind Karwowski and Sam Bewley in the flying lap, third behind Ryan and Roulston in a brilliant points race and third behind the same pair who swapped placings in the elimination race.
Karwowski stayed in the hunt after recovering brilliantly in the elimination race. He crashed with Bewley but got back on his bike and chased down the bunch within two laps and ultimately finished fifth.
Ryan, who is keen to develop his omnium skills, was impressive while Roulston, in his first track racing since the 2008 Olympics, looked more at home with every ride.
World silver medallist Shane Archbold is back in sixth place overall after a quiet night, as he comes to grips with a new racing bike.
Kiesanowski, the Team TIBCO professional in USA, was in a class of her own tonight, winning the flying lap in 14.874, a fraction outside her personal best, untroubled to dispose of fellow world championship teammate Gemma Dudley in the points race and elimination.
Missing from the omnium was the world championship pair of Peter Latham, who has been ill, and Radioshack professional Jesse Sergent, who only arrived back from Europe on Friday.
The omnium is completed tomorrow with the individual pursuit, scratch race and time trial.
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