Jay Lamoureux of Victoria was convinced the Canadian track cycling pursuit team would find the form that got them to top four in the 2019 world championships, and a spot in the bronze-medal race against Denmark, before a dip to 12th place in the next worlds held in early 2020.
Lamoureux proved a prescient prognosticator as he and his Canadian teammates Derek Gee, Michael Foley and Vincent de Haitre placed sixth in qualifying Monday at the Tokyo Olympics to roll into the medal round this morning with a shot at the Games bronze medal.
“We were on fire for a while, fourth in the world in 2019, and then stagnated and fell to 12th,” said the Islander.
“So we went back to the drawing board and definitely saw gains in training [at the national team velodrome in Milton, Ont]. We put in the work and are progressing nicely as a team.”
Denmark and Italy both smashed the former Olympic record in qualifying first and second in three minutes, 45.014 seconds and 3:45.895, respectively. The Commonwealth trio of New Zealand (3:46.079), defending 2016 Rio Olympics champion Great Britain (3:47.507) and Rio Olympics silver-medallist Australia (3:48.448) rounded out the top five, with the top-four advancing to the gold-medal round and the bottom four to the bronze-medal round. Canada was across sixth in 3:50.455. Seventh-place Germany (3:50.830) and Switzerland (3:51.514) completed the list of teams who will race-off in the medal round this morning in the Izu Velodrome.
Canada will meet Germany and Switzerland will race Australia in the bronze-medal semifinals with the winners advancing and losers eliminated from medal contention. Italy will compete against New Zealand and Denmark will race against Great Britain in the gold-medal semifinals. The winners will meet for the gold and silver medals. The losers will drop down into the bronze-medal pool.
The gold-medal aspirations of 2019 world champion Australia ended when the handlebars snapped off rider Alex Porter’s bike and he crashed. He returned, but Australia’s gold-medal hopes were dashed as the touted team fell to fifth place.
Lamoureux is still in the hunt to become the first Island cyclist to win a medal in team pursuit since Gillian Carleton of Victoria on the women’s side in 2012 at London. “It was frustrating last year with the delay of the Olympics, but we’re finally here and all the hard work is paying off,” he said.
As late as high school, where he ran cross-country for Oak Bay and played in the jazz band, Lamoureux could not have seen himself in the Olympics on a bike. “I was a runner and cycling was not a focus in high school,” he said. “But we had a cycling team at Oak Bay and I joined in the school club races recreationally and it snowballed from there to cycling races against other schools. Even then I was more focused on the road and not the track.”
That changed when veteran local cycling coaches and organizers Lister Farrar and Jeff Ain introduced Lamoureux to the 1994 Commonwealth Games velodrome at Colwood in 2015 and his rise to the national and then international levels began, including a bronze medal in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.