Track Potential W
Across All Disciplines
ith Rio 2016 in the rear view mirror, we roll forward into the next Olympic quadrennial. New beginnings are a time to regroup, reflect and determine what worked and what didn’t over the past four years.
In preparation and to create a sustainable athlete development framework, Cycling Canada created the NextGen program which has the goal of casting a wide net early and providing a breadth of athlete development. Athletes that are accepted into the NextGen program may eventually begin their integration into the Elite program with representation at international events.
The coach of the women’s NextGen Track endurance program, Cameron Jennings, will no doubt be cheering for his athletes Kinley Gibson and Ariane Bonhomme as they begin their leap into the Elite program under coach Craig Griffin. Both are great examples of NextGen fulfilling its goal as Gibson and Bonhomme will join veterans Steph Roorda and Laura Brown at UCI World Cup #3 in Cali, Colombia. UCI World Cup #4 in Los Angeles will be represented by Brown, Roorda, Jasmin Duehring, Kirsti Lay and Annie Foreman-Mackey. The riders sent to the 2017 Track World Championships in mid-April will be determined by performances in the upcoming two World Cups and the pre-Worlds camp.
The men’s endurance program represented by Aidan Caves, Adam Jamieson, Jay Lamoureux, Bayley Simpson and Ed Veal, coached by Ian Melvin, made history last year at World Cup #2 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, when they brought home Canada’s first-ever World Cup gold medal. And for the first time in Canadian history, they broke the four-minute barrier in the team pursuit at the Pan Am Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
The men have strong momentum towards their goal of representing Canada at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. This would be the first time since 1928 that Canada has been represented in the men’s team pursuit at the Games. The men attended the first two World Cups but will miss the final two to have more focused preparation for the Track Worlds. “Our goal for the 2017 World Championships is to break into the top eight,” said Melvin. “That would be a significant accomplishment for us and one that we’re all very focused on achieving.”
In addition to forming the NextGen program, Cycling Canada hired full time coach Erin Hartwell for the sprint program in the summer of 2014. Since then, the sprint program has been steadily maturing. One strategy that Hartwell employs to discover athletes is to hold talent identification camps where hopefuls are tested.
One such talent identification camp discovered Patrice Pivin who, in the words of Hartwell, “is the strongest athlete I’ve ever seen in sprint cycling. The guy just owns the gym! Triple body-weight back squats, 300+kg box squats, 140kg cleans – the guy’s a monster with the iron!” There is some healthy internal competition for the team sprint starting position between Pivin and teammate Joel Archambault. “The ride-off between Joel and Pat on Feb. 7 for the Cali starter’s job came down to 0.027 seconds with Pivin just edging Archambault for the role,” said Hartwell. “Archambault is an amazing training partner for the crew, always leading by example, and works hard to help mould a world-class DTE [daily training environment] in Milton.”
If you want to see rainbows in the world of sprinting, you don’t have to look any further than the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, where you’ll find sprinter Stephan Ritter from Albera training. Ritter is the epitome of professionalism, and he’s only 18 years old. “Ritter comes to the senior Elite program straight from juniors following his world title last year in the 1000m time trial and his two junior world records in the 1000m and 200m time trials,” said Hartwell. “This young guy has been an absolute boon for the program. Stefan is one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever met and has transitioned overnight to an Elite from the junior ranks.”
In spite of the post-Olympic blues that athletes often experience, Kate O’Brien and Hugo Barrette have swung their legs back over their top-tubes and are hard at work training and mentoring new riders such as Amelia Walsh. Walsh, an accomplished BMX racer from Ontario, will join O’Brien in the team sprint which will keep the program firing through 2017.
Before Walsh joined the track program, Hartwell would frequently see “Walshy” at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in the weight room or receiving physical therapy. A standing offer existed for Walsh to give the track a go. She eventually did and she has since transitioned her world-class BMX abilities to the track. Walsh has a strong enough start that O’Brien is able to be moved to second position, which allows Hartwell to leverage her world-class strength in a new role.
The season in Canada gets underway with the Eastern Track Challenge on Feb. 11-12 in Milton, Ont., and then heads west to Burnaby, B.C., for the Western Track Challenge. The first major championships take place March 31-Apr. 2 as the Junior/U17/Para Track Nationals will see Maple Leaf jerseys awarded at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton. Next stop is Hong Kong for the UCI Track World Championships with the Elite/Master Track Nationals in late September.
The momentum that Canada’s track program has gained heading into this new quadrennial is exciting with plenty of talent across the country to fuel the potential across all disciplines.
Stefan Ritter, only 18, from Edmonton is the epitome of professionalism.
Talented Patrice Pivin is new to the national
Amelia Walsh is also new and brings her strong BMX pedigree to the track.