Track Po­ten­tial W

Across All Dis­ci­plines

Pedal Magazine - - Preview Track - BY JAMIE GIL­GEN

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

pro­gram.

Amelia Walsh is also new and brings her strong BMX pedi­gree to the track.

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