Cycling Canada nominates largest track cycling squad in Canadian Olympic history
OTTAWA, ON (July 29, 2020) – The Canadian Olympic Committee and Cycling Canada announced on Wednesday nine women and eight men who will represent Canada in the road and track cycling events at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in 2021.
The track events will open on August 2 at the Izu Velodrome, located 120 kilometres outside of Tokyo. Over the course of seven days, Canadians will compete in eight of the twelve medal events, including women’s and men’s sprint, keirin and team pursuit, women’s omnium and the men’s madison, which returns for the first time since the 2008 Olympic Games.
The women’s team pursuit squad has a tradition of medal-winning performances since the event was introduced at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Canada won bronze in 2012, when the event was contested by teams of three riders. In 2016, Jasmin Duehring returned to lead the team to another bronze medal in the new four-rider format, beating New Zealand in the final. Three of the four Rio finalists returned to the squad last season and finished on the podium at every World Cup they entered before reaching the finals at the UCI World Championships where they broke the Canadian record that had been set at the previous Olympic Games.
The squad will be anchored by double Olympic medallist Duehring, who will attempt to lead the team to a third consecutive medal. She will be joined by her Rio 2016 teammates Allison Beveridge and dual season Olympian Georgia Simmerling, while Annie Foreman-Mackey and Ariane Bonhomme will be competing in their first Olympic Games. All five women will be entered in the team pursuit, with Allison Beveridge also competing in the omnium.
“I am honoured to have been selected to represent Team Canada at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. For any athlete, the opportunity to represent their country on an Olympic start line is a dream come true, and even after two previous Olympics I do not take that for granted,” said Duehring. “With experience comes greater responsibility and I know that my teammates and I will face our biggest challenge to date next summer. Not only is our competition stronger than ever before, but the buildup and preparation will obviously not look as expected. With that in mind I hope to bring increased focus and tenacity to the team as we attempt to continue and build on the momentum of this past season all the way to the start of the Games.”
On the men’s side, the much younger team pursuit squad has shown immense progress, finishing the season ranked in the top-10 in the world to earn Canada a spot at the Olympic Games for the first time in more than 30 years. Since the men’s program was established in 2014, the team has won medals at World Cups, the Pan American Games, the Commonwealth Games, and the Pan American Championships. The team has improved steadily, shedding more than 24 seconds off the Canadian record in just six years, dipping below four minutes in 2016 and below 3:50 in 2020.
The Tokyo team will be comprised of Derek Gee, Jay Lamoureux and Michael Foley, as well as two-time Olympian speed skater Vincent De Haître, who joined the team after the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. All four athletes will compete in the team pursuit, with Gee and Foley also competing in the Madison.
“After competing at the 2018 Winter Games, I expressed my intent of committing myself full-time to cycling with the goal of qualifying for the 2020 Games,” said de Haître. “Two years later, I’ve competed at my first Track World Championships as a member of the Men’s Track Endurance squad and I hold the national record in the kilo and the men’s team pursuit. The last years have definitely tested my skills as an athlete, but I am more focused than ever and look forward to competing at both the Summer and Winter Games only six months apart.”
Aside from its track endurance achievements, Canada has also produced many dominant sprinters over the years, including Olympic gold medallist Lori-Ann Muenzer and the country’s most decorated cycling Olympian of all time, Curt Harnett.
This year will be no exception, with cycling prodigies Kelsey Mitchell and Lauriane Genest representing Canada in both the sprint and keirin events. Mitchell, who was first discovered in 2017 through the RBC Training Ground program, quickly rose to fame with podium results at the 2019 Pan American Games, followed by four World Cup medals during her first international race season. Genest also had a breakthrough season this year, beating some of the world’s best sprinters and finishing on the World Cup podium twice. Joining them on the men’s side will be veteran Hugo Barrette and Canadian champion Nick Wammes.
Mitchell, who has recently resumed training at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, said, “In 2017, I attended RBC Training Ground as a last chance to follow my dream of going to the Olympics. As a former soccer player, I wanted to give high performance sport one last shot before moving on. Nearly three years later, I have officially qualified for a spot at the Olympic Games on the track. A dream I have cherished for so long is finally going to become a reality in one more year! Although I was initially upset, I’ve decided to look at the Games postponement as a blessing in disguise, which gives me an extra year to get stronger in the gym, to become even better at riding my bike, and to grow even more as an athlete. My initial dream was to go to the Olympics, but now I’m dreaming of winning a medal for Canada!”
At 137km for the women and 234km for the men, the road races are the longest events of the Olympic Games. Both races will start in Musashinonomori Park in northwestern Tokyo and finish at the Fuji International Speedway near the iconic Mt. Fuji. The men’s road race will kick off the medal events on July 24, followed by the women’s road race and the individual time trials at Fuji International Speedway on July 25th and 28th.
Highlighting the men’s team will be Michael Woods of EF Education First Pro Cycling, who will be joined by Hugo Houle of Team Astana, as well as a third unconfirmed rider. While Woods started professional cycling later in life, he has proven to be one of the best climbers on the UCI WorldTour circuit, winning a stage at the 2018 Vuelta ciclista a España and finishing third at the Road World Championships the same year. Houle, who is known to be one of the world’s best support riders, will assist Woods in the road race, and will also compete in the time trial.
The women’s team will be led by current Canadian champions Leah Kirchmann of Team Sunweb and Karol-Ann Canuel of Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team. Kirchmann, who is due to return to racing in August, is currently ranked in the top-10 in the world and has had countless podium performances throughout her career, including at La Course by Le Tour de France, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau and many more. Canuel is better known for her time trial expertise, winning medals in several individual and team time trial races in recent years and finishing fourth at the 2014 World Championships. Both athletes will compete in the road race and the individual time trial.
“Ever since the 2020 Olympic course was revealed, I’ve had a big X on my calendar, and although that X has had to move, my goal for the Olympics remains the same,” said Woods. “Competing at the 2016 Games in Rio was a dream come true, but I was unable to perform at my best due to an injury. Since then, I have proven that I am capable of competing and winning against the best riders in the world, and I hope to do the same in Tokyo on a course that really suits my abilities.”
The final men’s road starter and non-travelling alternates will be selected in May 2021, while female and male starters for cross-country mountain bike and BMX racing will be selected by June 2021.
Road and track cycling have been part of the Olympic Games since the birth of the modern movement in 1896, although women’s road events weren’t added until 1984, while track events were added in 1988. The women’s team pursuit was added to the Olympic program in 2012, creating equity for the first time between the number of men’s and women’s events.
The athletes nominated are:
Women’s Track Endurance
Allison Beveridge (Calgary, Alta.) – Team Pursuit, Omnium
Ariane Bonhomme (Gatineau, Que.) – Team Pursuit
Jasmin Duehring (Coquitlam, B.C.) – Team Pursuit
Annie Foreman-Mackey (Kingston, Ont.) – Team Pursuit
Georgia Simmerling (Vancouver, B.C.) – Team Pursuit
Men’s Track Endurance
Vincent De Haître (Cumberland, Ont.) – Team Pursuit
Michael Foley (Milton, Ont.) – Team Pursuit, Madison
Derek Gee (Osgoode, Ont.) – Team Pursuit, Madison
Jay Lamoureux (Victoria, B.C.) – Team Pursuit
Adam Jamieson (Horseshoe Valley, Ont.) – Non-travelling alternate
Karol-Ann Canuel (Amos, Que.) – Road Race, Time Trial
Leah Kirchmann (Winnipeg, Man.) – Road Race, Time Trial
Alison Jackson (Vermilion, Alta.) – Non-travelling alternate
Sara Poidevin (Canmore, Alta.) – Non-travelling alternate
Canada’s track cycling athletes have been returning to training during the pandemic under strict guidelines to protect the health of athletes and staff. These guidelines, developed in collaboration with Own the Podium, the Canadian Sport Institute network and facility managers, can be found here.
Prior to being nominated to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organizations.
Karine Bedard, Marketing & Communications Manager
Josh Su, Specialist, Public Relations
Canadian Olympic Committee