Cycling fans in for treat with busy weekend at Colwood velodrome

Velodromes are famously the lumbering white elephants of any set of summer Games. You can walk through various eco systems at the Biodome de Montréal. But what you can’t do is use the former 1976 Olympic velodrome for cycling.

But against all trends, the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games velodrome in Colwood is still in use a quarter century later, even after being threatened with closure on several occasions.

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The local cycling community rallied to save the 1994 Games velodrome and it has since produced several Island internationals, including 2019 Lima Pan Am Games silver-medallist Erin Attwell, 2012 London Olympic bronze-medallist Gillian Carleton, 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games gold-medallist Evan Carey and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Jay Lamoureux.

Fans can catch the next generation preparing to come out of the facility, now known as the Westshore Velodrome, when the B.C. track cycling championships are hosted by the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association. They begin today at 5:30 p.m. in Colwood with the men’s and women’s Team Sprint finals and team pursuit finals, followed by the men’s and women’s and mixed Madison events.

Racing resumes at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with the Flying 200, multi-event Omnium and Scratch and Kieran races. The provincials conclude Sunday at 9 a.m. with the Time Trials, Sprints and Individual Pursuit events.

Admission is free.

Canada is home to three velodrome success stories. Burnaby also has a velodrome that is well used.

While the Victoria velodrome is truly old school — concrete and outdoors — the newer, more state-of-the-art indoor, wood-track 2015 Pan American Games Velodrome in Milton, Ont., is home to Canada’s national track cycling team.

Meanwhile, Canada’s national mountain biking team is based on Bear Mountain and has named its team for the UCI world championships Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que.

“Racing at a home at the world championships is always a special honour,” said Canadian head coach Dan Proulx of Victoria.

“We’re excited to race on a track that we know well and [is] one of the most technical and demanding courses in the world. Obviously, we hope to see Canadians on the podium. But more importantly, we’re looking for athletes to improve on their personal best and come away with even greater ambition to compete with the best riders in the world.”

Rolling from Bear Mountain into Mont-Sainte-Anne are the elite Canadian cross-country women led by two-time world champion and Olympic-medallist Catharine Pendrel, 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games medallist Haley Smith and 2016 Rio Olympics fourth-place Emily Batty. The elite cross-country men are led by Raphaël Gagné and Léandre Bouchard and elite downhill men by Mark Wallace of Duncan.

Emilly Johnston of Comox is on the Canadian junior women’s cross-country team at the worlds, Carter Woods of Cumberland on the junior men’s cross-country squad and Patrick Laffey of Nanaimo on the junior men’s downhill team.

About the latter group, Proulx said: “This competition will provide an incredible incentive for our development riders and dividends to our system for years to come.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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