Ellesse Andrews battled Canadian flyer Kelsey Mitchell in the women’s sprint 1/8 finals. Andrews, already a silver medallist in Tokyo, rode a smart tactical race and was well placed for the final sprint, but Mitchell, fourth in the world championships in this event last year, caught her right on the line for the narrowest of wins.
The result pushed Andrews into the repechage, where she faced China’s Tianshi Zhong and Ukrainian Olena Starikova, with the winner to progress to the quarter-finals.
Andrews was locked in a duel with Zhong and shaded her on the line. Unfortunately, Starikova came over the top and won by a tyre width, eliminating the New Zealander, who seemed philosophical afterwards.
“I left it all out there,” she said. “I emptied the tank and gave it 100 percent. I can’t be disappointed.”
In the men’s keirin, New Zealand had two riders, Sam Webster and Callum Saunders.
Webster found himself boxed in and in no position to drive for the line in his first round ride, and so was consigned to the repechage route.
Riding at the front as much as possible, Webster looked to have earned himself the second of the two qualifying placings in his repechage, but was edged out on the line by Jair Tjou En Far of Surinam by the infinitesimal margin of 0.04s.
Saunders fared well in the sprint for the line in his first round race, finishing second to Japan’s Yuta Wakimoto with three progressing to the quarter-finals tomorrow.
Saunders, 25, said it felt great to be riding in his first Olympics. “Just making it to the start line was a thrill, then making it through to tomorrow in the keirin was the cherry on top. I’ll see if I can continue the good times.”
He said he’d drawn inspiration from the medal-winning rides of Ellesse Andrews and Campbell Stewart, and that his preparation for the keirin had been helped by closely studying the riders’ form in the sprints to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
In the men's madison, a strength-sapping 50km race with 20 sprints, New Zealanders Campbell Stewart and Corbin Strong finished 11th, after taking points in one sprint. Their cause was not helped early on when Strong had a fall.
The race was won narrowly by world champions Denmark with 43 points, from Britain and France on 40 points. Denmark's average speed for the 50-minute journey was 59.6kmh.Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games