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Four Island cyclists named to Canadian team for 2023 Pan Am Games

Games are next month in Santiago, Chile
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Riley Pickrell is headed to the Pan Am Games next month.

Veteran Erin Attwell of Victoria will be looking for a reprise on the velodrome track. Carter Woods of Cumberland will be looking to make his mark on the mountain biking trails and Riley Pickrell of Victoria on the road as rising young riders. Mel Pemble of Victoria will be on the road and track.

The four Islanders were named to the Canadian team for the 2023 Pan Am Games next month in Santiago Chile.

Attwell is one of only two of the 26 riders named who has previous Pan Am Games experience, having won silver with the Canadian squad in team pursuit at Lima 2019, as she sets her longer term sights on the Paris Olympics next summer.

Pickrell, meanwhile, continued establishing himself as a name to watch for by winning the second stage last month in the Tour de l’Avenir in France, which literally translates as the Tour of the Future, and is considered the U-23 Tour de France and the training ground for elite young riders being groomed for the big race. It followed Pickrell’s victory in the fourth stage last year in the U-23 Giro d’Italia, nicknamed the Baby Giro. The converted hockey player and speed skater also rode for Canada in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Woods comes out of a strong mountain-biking tradition in the Comox Valley. It doesn’t hurt having Mount Washington nearby. Woods is following in the tire ruts of Geoff Kabush of Courtenay, the UVic mechanical engineering graduate who had two top-10 finishes among his three Olympic appearances at Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and Kiara Bisaro of Comox, the 2004 Athens Olympian who won bronze at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Woods appears a worthy heir and is tearing up the mountain tracks in the 2023 U-23 World Cup season with six medals, including a victory in the Val di Sole Trentino World Cup race in Italy.

Pemble will race the Pan Am Games para road and velodrome events in Santiago as she looks to becoming a rare Summer and Winter Paralympian next year in Paris to follow up skiing in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics. Pemble traded skis for pedals and won gold in the women’s C3 scratch race in the UCI para-cycling track world championships. The 24-year-old Islander, born with cerebral palsy, is also the world record holder in the C3 omnium 200-metre sprint.

Pemble was born in Lancashire, England, and immigrated to Victoria in 2009. She made the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics as a teenager.

She then took to the 1994 Commonwealth Games velodrome in Colwood to follow in the tire tracks of Attwell, 2012 London Olympics-medallist Gillian Carleton, Tokyo Olympics cyclist and 2018 Commonwealth Games medallist Jay Lamoureux and 2015 Pan Am Games-medallists Evan Carey who also came out of the Juan de Fuca facility.

The Canadian cycling team head coach is Dan Proulx of Victoria and he stressed multi-sports Games newcomers such as Woods as much as multi-sports Games veterans such Attwell, Pickrell and Pemble, who have had experience in previous, Pan Am, Commonwealth or Paralympic Games.

“For many, it will be their first time competing in a Games environment — staying in an athlete village and performing in a new setting where the demands and pressures are slightly different compared to other events,” Proulx said in a statement.

“We hope to win medals but more importantly, this is a learning opportunity — an experience that can set up Canadian athletes for success at future Games. We’re keen to see what this group of riders can do in Santiago.”

The 2023 Pan Am Games run Oct. 20 to Nov. 5 in the Chilean capital.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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