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2015 Pan Am Games best ever for Canadian cyclists

With cycling at the Pan Am Games done and dusted, and the Games themselves coming to a close, now is a good time to take a look back at one of this summer's pinnacle sporting events and take stock of Canada's success.

Final sprint
Final sprint
The final sprint of the men’s road race. Miguel Ubeto of Venezuela (left), Guillaume Boivin of Canada and Eric Marcotte of the U.S. Photo: Ruby Photo Studio

With cycling at the Pan Am Games done and dusted, and the Games themselves coming to a close, now is a good time to take a look back at one of this summer’s pinnacle sporting events and take stock of Canada’s success. And in all fields of competition — track, road, and cross-country — the host country’s cycling performance at the 2015 edition of the Games set the bar, and set it really, really high.

In short, this was the single best Pan Am Games ever for Canadian cyclists.

All told, Canada took 20 medals in each of the event’s cycling disciplines, an outcome that eclipsed the previous all-time high of nine medals conferred upon Canadian cyclists at 1999’s Pan Am Games in Winnipeg. At the Games’ beginning, Tory Nyhaug set an early standard for Canada in BMX competition with a gold medal performance, winning in all motos, semi-finals and final events at Etobicoke, Ont.’s freshly-minted BMX track at Centennial Park. Emily Batty and Raphael Gagne were the next to rack up prestige for Canadian cycling, as each mountain cyclist won gold medals in cross-country competition. Catherine Pendrel, barely seconds behind Batty, took silver in Canada’s utter domination of the Hardwood Ski and Bike trails.

Track cycling at the Milton velodrome was yet another high point, where men’s and women’s team sprints took gold medals, with more following in men’s and women’s individual team sprints — events that shone a spotlight on Hugo Barrette and Monique Sullivan. Sullivan also took gold in the women’s keirin, after the women’s team pursuit also rode to the gold medal against the USA.

The road races of the Pan Am Games, near the Games’ conclusion, raised Pan-American cycling standards even higher.

Starting on Wednesday with the individual time trial, Hugo Houle took a personal best with a gold medal finish, averaging 400 watts of power over 45 minutes. Sean Mackinnon also turned in a medal performance, taking bronze, while Jasmin Glaesser’s flat tire wasn’t enough to hold her short of a silver medal in the women’s time trial. And as the road races kicked off on Saturday, Canada was once again anywhere but far from the podium. Glaesser followed up that time trial silver with a gold medal win — her fourth medal in as many races, putting her in Canada’s top 3 for the Pan Am Games overall — followed by Alison Beveridge with a bronze medal finish. Later in the day, Guillaume Boivin took one more bronze, rounding out a breathtaking performance for Canadian athletes.

Those same words might be chosen by head coach and high performance director Jacques Landry in describing the Pan Am Games’ outcome for Canadian cyclists, too.

“These Games have definitely been good ones for cycling, across all of our Olympic disciplines,” Landry said. “We obviously came into these Games expecting to win gold medals in some of our marquee events. Our goal, however, remained to reach the podium in each event we entered in, and I believe we came very close to that goal.”

On another level, as Cycling Canada president John Tolkamp said after Saturday’s men’s road race at the Pan Am Games, Canada’s performance on home soil underscores the country’s chances at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — chances that are now looking quite favourable.

“Canada exceeded expectations,” Tolkamp told Canadian Cycling Magazine. “Everything’s been excellent. For me, it’s beyond the medals. It’s the team. I’ve really come to realize that this has been an excellent preparation for Rio. The pressure on the team here to perform, especially at the Velodrome, was immense, and that is great to see how the team came together and how they performed under that pressure.”

“Obviously the pressure is going to be way higher in Rio and we can’t expect those kinds of results, but [considering] the ability to perform under that pressure, I think we’ve been a bit questionable on that in the past. I really like what I saw.”

Medalists – Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Cycling

•Raphael Gagné – Gold – Men’s Cross-Country, Mountain Bike
•Emily Batty – Gold – Women’s Cross-Country, Mountain Bike
•Canada – Gold – Women’s Team Sprint, Track Cycling
•Monique Sullivan – Gold – Women’s Keirin, Track Cycling
•Monique Sullivan – Gold – Women’s Sprint, Track Cycling
•Canada – Gold – Men’s Team Sprint, Track Cycling
•Hugo Barrette – Gold – Men’s Sprint, Track Cycling
•Canada – Gold – Women’s Team Pursuit, Track Cycling
•Tory Nyhaug – Gold – Men’s BMX
•Hugo Houle – Gold – Men’s Individual Time Trial, Road Cycling
•Jasmin Glaesser – Gold – Women’s Road Race, Road Cycling
•Jasmin Glaesser – Silver – Women’s Omnium, Track Cycling
•Jasmin Glaesser – Silver – Women’s Individual Time Trial, Road Cycling
•Catharine Pendrel – Silver – Women’s Cross-Country, Mountain Bike
•Kate O’Brien – Silver – Women’s Sprint, Track Cycling
•Canada – Bronze – Men’s Team Pursuit, Track Cycling
•Hugo Barrette – Bronze – Men’s Keirin, Track Cycling
•Sean MacKinnon – Bronze – Men’s Individual Time Trial, Road Cycling
•Allison Beveridge – Bronze – Women’s Road Race, Road Cycling
•Guillaume Boivin – Bronze – Men’s Road Race, Road Cycling

Looking Back on Pan Am Cycling: Galleries

Track Cycling: Day 1

Track Cycling: Day 2

Track Cycling: Day 3

Track Cycling: Day 4

Individual Time Trial

Men’s Cross Country

Women’s Cross Country

Women’s Road Race

Men’s Road Race