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Island riders place fourth at world track cycling championships

Victoria riders Erin Attwell and Sarah Van Dam are part of a 16-athlete Canadian team in Roubaix

Victoria riders Erin Attwell and Sarah Van Dam showed they are ready to knock on the door of the 2024 Paris Olympics with a fourth-place showing on the Canadian women’s pursuit team at the 2021 UCI world track cycling championships in Roubaix, France.

The Canadian team, gold medallist last month at the Nations Cup in Cali, Colombia, fell one placing short of the world championship podium by losing to Great Britain in the bronze-medal final Sunday. The Canadian foursome included British Columbians Attwell, Van Dam and Langley’s Maggie Coles-Lyster, a regular competitor in Island cycling races.

Canada’s Tokyo Olympic medallists, sprint champion Kelsey Mitchell and keirin bronze-medallist Lauriane Genest, continued their form with Mitchell capturing bronze at the worlds in the sprint and Genest fourth. Mitchell was fifth in the keirin and also fifth in the team sprint with Genest and Sarah Orban. Coles-Lyster was fourth the women’s scratch race to give Canada six top-five placings at the worlds.

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

“We had a great worlds because we still have a very young team,” said Cycling Canada track sprint coach Franck Durivaux, in a statement.

“Athletes were able to get results that allowed them to do even more against the best in the world and we are going to continue to work with the development group in Milton [Ontario] to get them ready for the next Olympic Games campaign. That’ll be the next really important part looking towards the next season.”

Next year also includes the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England

The national track velodrome in Milton, Ont., built for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games and which Durivaux referenced, is home to the national team. But the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games velodrome in Colwood, now known as the Westshore Velodrome, also continues to pay dividends for Canadian track cycling. Attwell, 22, and Van Dam, 20, are just the latest internationals to come out of the facility, which was only saved from destruction a few years ago by a determined effort by the Island cycling community to keep it functioning.

Island cyclists who got their starts on the outdoor concrete Colwood track include Attwell, Van Dam, 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.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com