BENDIGO young gun Alessia McCaig has capped a fairy tale ascension to the national senior cycling ranks.
Representing Australia for the first time at this week's Oceania Track Championships in New Zealand, McCaig won instant gold on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
The 16-year-old, from the Bendigo and District Cycling Club, teamed with New South Wales rider Kalinda Robinson to win the team sprint in a new championship record time of 35.249.
The young pair bettered their qualifying time of 35.376, which ranked them first heading into the final.
Competing for the first time as a senior rider and at international level, McCaig said her expectations heading to Invercargill, where the championships are being staged, were low.
But those hopes were raised after an outstanding performance in qualifying.
"All I was thinking was that I needed to back myself," McCaig said.
"After the qualifying we were pretty confident ... things came together quickly.
"It was always going to be hard, but to get a gold in my first ride and also a championship record is very special."
All I was thinking was that I needed to back myself.Alessia McCaig
It was the first time McCaig - a scholarship holder with the Victorian Institute of Sport since May this year - and Robinson had ridden together
The gold medal has boosted McCaig's expectations going into Thursday's individual time trial.
"Obviously, I will still be nervous, but I'll have plenty more confidence that I can actually do it now," she said.
"The (pre-championships) expectations weren't very high at all, but I have definitely exceeded those."
McCaig planned to spend the rest of her day taking in some of the action at Invercargill.
The gold medal win and new championships record continues an amazing year on the track for McCaig, who dominated this year's Junior National Track Championships in Brisbane by winning four gold medals and two bronze medals.
She also set new Australian records in the under-17 women's 500m team sprint (with Caulfield-Carnegie's Lucie Stewart) and the 200m flying.
Those performances followed a four gold medal haul and two silver at the previous year's championships in Melbourne.
Her win at the Oceanias has put McCaig in the box seat for selection for next year's open national track championships in March.
The Oceania Track Championships run until Saturday and feature riders from nine nations.
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