Kiwi yachting company reinvent the wheel for Olympic track cyclists

An unlikely alliance with a world leading Kiwi yachting company may have produced a medal-winning secret weapon for our track cyclists.

Mast builders Southern Spars are building a new bike wheel that's proving to be quicker. 

It was the experience Olympic gold medallist and Chef de Mission Rob Waddell had on Team New Zealand with Southern Spars which got him thinking about what they could do for cycling. 

"When you get to the Olympic Games you are looking for every little piece of speed and energy and advantage you can get," Waddell said. 

What they've got is a new world-leading carbon-fibre wheel designed at Southern Spars' mast factory in Auckland. 

"Give us anything in carbon and we think we can improve it," said Southern Spars' Mark Hauser. 

Exactly what they've improved will remain a secret until after the Games but the results are telling. 

"We know we've improved the wheel. We think it's quite a bit quicker. But we are about to find out, I guess. But certainly the athletes seem to be pretty excited about it," Hauser added.

After testing the wheel at the velodrome in Cambridge, Cycling New Zealand has sent a batch of 30 to its base in France where the riders are training for Rio.

"They key for them is that they know they are going to be riding in Rio something that is New Zealand made and they believe and we believe it sets the benchmark in the world," said Cycling New Zealand's Mark Elliott. "That's so critical when you are trying to take a win in points of seconds."

Track cyclists like those who won gold for New Zealand at the World Championships in London reach speeds of up to 70 km/h so there were nervous times during testing. 

"When they power out there's a lot of weight going into those wheels so that was a bit scary but once we'd done it once or twice you knew it was going to be great," said Hauser.