Citing the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, Cycling Canada has announced it will not send a team to the 2021 UCI junior track cycling world championships, scheduled for Apr. 5 to 9 in Cairo, Egypt. The event, set to take place in three months, has not yet been called off by the UCI.
“Given the health risks involved in international travel and current travel restrictions, we do not believe it is responsible for us to send a team of young athletes to an event where we cannot guarantee their safety,” said Cycling Canada high performance director Kris Westwood. “On top of this, current health restrictions in Canada make it impossible for us to hold selection events to choose a team, or for that team to prepare for the worlds.”
In Canada, as cases continue to climb, there are still limitations on group activities. From the recommendations of health authorities indoor velodromes in B.C. and Ontario are operating with restrictions— elite athletes targeted for the Tokyo Games are currently exempt from some of these restrictions, but juniors are not.
As the situation evolves, Cycling Canada’s development coaching team is shifting its focus while still trying to find meaningful training, selection and competition opportunities for younger athletes. Training camps will be held remotely through Zwift with additional online education sessions and workshops. Later in the year, the team hopes to participate in in-person training camps and competitions, “when it is feasible and safe to do so.”
“The junior category only lasts two years, but it’s a critical phase in athlete development,” said Cycling Canada’s NextGen lead coach, Jenny Trew. “With the pandemic affecting most of 2021, some athletes may be effectively losing their entire junior racing career, and we’re working hard to help fill that gap.”