Posted by Editoress on 03/1/12
It all comes down to this weekend for many Olympic dreams, as the top track cyclists of the Americas join together to compete at the 2012 UCI Pan-American Championships in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.
For many Canadian Track Cycling team members, the championships held this weekend are critical on the road to their Olympic dreams. With only two Olympic qualifying events left on the track cycling calendar, the stakes are as high as they can be for aspiring Olympians.
For the Men’s Team Sprint, Canada is currently chasing Venezuela in the fight for the last Olympic qualification spot. Venezuela, currently in the 11th spot of the UCI Olympic Ranking, has a 120-point lead over Canada, which sits in 12th position. Only the Top 10 nations will compete at the Olympic Games, and with Europe having one more country in the Top 10 than their quota allows, Venezuela falls in tenth spot. Venezuela currently has the final qualification spot, with Canada right behind in 11th place.
The event in Mar Del Plata represents an opportunity for Canada to bridge the points gap to keep their Olympic dreams alive. Three of the fastest men in Canada will ride in Argentina: Travis Smith of Calgary, Joseph Veloce of Fonthill, Ontario, and Hugo Barrette of Cap-Aux-Meules, Québec.
“This event is really important for many reasons. As per UCI Olympic qualifications standards, qualifying a spot in the Men’s Team Sprint would allow us to put a rider in both the Keirin and the Individual Sprint. We have worked hard on the sprint side and are looking good for spots in 2012 and winning medals come 2016,” said Richard Wooles, Head Coach of the Canadian Track Cycling Program.
In the Women’s Sprint event, Canada is also in a tight hunt with Venezuela, and has a 40 point lead over their South American rivals heading into the weekend. Canada will have two women’s sprinters on the line: veteran Monique Sullivan of Calgary and Heather Moyse of Summerside, PEI.
The fight with Venezuela continues in the Women’s Keirin, but this time Canada is ninth, one spot behind Venezuela. In the women’s Keirin, only the Top 8 nations will receive a spot to compete at the Olympic Games. The Keirin battle will be intense, as only a few points separate the two countries. Sullivan will race for Canada this weekend in the Keirin.
In the Men’s Sprint events, Canada is fighting against the United States of America. Only 30 points separate Canada from the coveted Olympic spot, which makes this event critical for Canada to overtake their natural rivals and southern neighbours. In the Men’s Keirin race, Canada is sitting comfortably in seventh place of the UCI Olympic Rankings, and it looks promising for a start at the Olympic Games. Smith and Veloce will race for Canada in both the Sprint and Keirin events this weekend.
Laura Brown of Vancouver, Stephanie Roorda of Vancouver and youngster Allison Beveridge of Calgary, will represent Canada in the Women’s Team Pursuit this weekend.
Canada is sitting comfortably in the rankings for both the Men and Women Omnium, sitting fourth and first respectively, as well as in the Women’s Team Pursuit where they rank in seventh place, thanks to their recent silver medal performance in London.
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