Cycling Canada is gearing up for a big 2020 with the UCI World Cup coming to Milton, Ont. for the third time in January and the culmination of the Olympic cycle which concludes in Tokyo next August. At the track national championships at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, over 140 Canadians contested national titles in elite and masters categories from Sept. 26 to 28.
“It’s so impressive to see the overall level of our athletes improve, especially the depth that we’re seeing out of our younger athletes,” said Cycling Canada’s high-performance director Kris Westwood. “We’ve never seen track cycling at this level in Canada before and the momentum that has built up around the Mattamy National Cycling Centre is really starting to pay dividends. It’s an exciting time for track cycling and I think it’s only going to improve in the future.”
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On the line were eight titles across categories in sprint and endurance events. Canada’s top track athletes imposed themselves with numerous members of the high-performance program walking away with multiple titles, attesting to their potential to represent Canada at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Recently crowned 200 m women’s sprint world record holder Kelsey Mitchell had a good showing winning the titles in the sprint, team sprint and time trial. Canadian Cycling spoke to the Sherwood Park, Alta. native at the championships where she told us about her journey into cycling less than two years ago and her goal of representing Canada in Tokyo.
“Nationals is a very special event for me, especially since last year it was my first major competition,” Mitchell explained. “Coming in this year, I gained a lot of confidence from my other races and just went all out. It’s exciting to get to race against your teammates that you see every single day because you know their strengths and weaknesses and it’s just so different. I’m very excited for what’s coming.”
Derek Gee of Ottawa is a stalwart on the men’s team pursuit team and won the omnium, Madison and individual pursuit. Milton’s own Michael Foley teamed up with Gee to win the Madison and took gold in the team pursuit. Veteran Steph Roorda of Vancouver won gold in the omnium and Madison.
Another stand out rider was first-year elite Nick Wammes of Bothwell, Ont. who won three golds in his first elite championships. He won gold in the sprint, team sprint and Keirin.
“It’s been quite the journey in the last eight months, with my first world cup in New Zealand last year, and a long summer of racing at the Pan Am Games and Pan Am Championships,” Wammes said. “It’s pretty crazy to think that last year I was barely getting on the podium, and this year I won three Elite titles. I’m so happy with my performances this weekend and it’s a great way to start the season.”
The 2019-2020 UCI Track World Cup begins in Minsk, Belarus in November before travelling to Glasgow in the UK, Hong-Kong, Cambridge in New Zealand and Brisbane in Australia before heading into the New Year when it concludes in Milton on Jan. 24 to 26.