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Island cyclists ready for world track cycling championships

Victoria riders Erin Attwell and Sarah Van Dam will not lack for inspiration at the UCI world track cycling ­championships taking place today through ­Sunday in Roubaix, France.
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Erin Attwell rides a stationary bike at PICE. Attwell will represent Canada at the track world championships. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST)

Victoria riders Erin Attwell and Sarah Van Dam will not lack for inspiration at the UCI world track cycling ­championships taking place today through ­Sunday in Roubaix, France.

How can you with Tokyo Olympics sprint gold-medallist Kelsey Mitchell and Keirin bronze-medallist Lauriane ­Genest as teammates? ­Mitchell and Genest will both be ­competing in the Keirin, sprint and team sprint events.

“It’s so amazing to be able to bring two Olympic medallists to track worlds,” Cycling Canada high performance director Kris Westwood said in a ­statement.

“Kelsey and Lauriane will walk into the Roubaix ­Velodrome as riders to watch, which brings all sorts of new challenges, but I’m confident they are up for it.”

Attwell, silver medallist in the 2019 Lima Pan Am Games, and Van Dam are part of the Canadian women’s pursuit team being prepared for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Van Dam was part of the gold-medallist team at the Cali Nations Cup last month in Colombia.

“The squad represents a ­generational shift for our teams,” said Westwood.

“They have big shoes to fill and I’m excited to see what they can achieve as we work towards the Paris Olympic Games in just three years’ time.”

Attwell, 22, and Van Dam, 20, are both out of the ­Canadian Sports School-Victoria on the PISE campus at Camosun ­College Interurban Road, under the auspices of School District 62.

Attwell and Van Dam are following a tradition of track cyclists to come out of the 1994 Commonwealth Games velodrome in Colwood. It is now known as the Westshore Velodrome and was saved from being torn down after the Island cycling community rallied to keep it operational. Other Island cyclists who got their starts on the Westshore oval include 2012 London Olympics bronze-medallist Gillian Carleton, 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games gold-medallist Evan Carey and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist and Tokyo Olympics top-five rider Jay Lamoureux.

Canada is sending a team of 16 riders to the world track championships in Roubaix.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com