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In first Olympics since Montréal 1976, Canadian men’s team pursuit squad posts sixth best qualifying time

Canadian women's team pursuit quartet has tough start

On Monday in the Tokyo Izu Velodrome, the Canadian men’s team pursuit squad, competing in the Olympic Games for the first time since Montréal 1976, posting the sixth best qualifying time. The Canadian women’s team pursuit quartet had a tough start to its Tokyo journey as it posted the eighth best time, 4:15.832, of eight nations in qualifying. Day one on the boards produced world and Olympic records.

The Tokyo Olympic Games track cycling program began with women’s team sprint qualifying.

Then came the women’s team pursuit qualifying. Canada’s only track cycling medals in the last two Olympic Games came in women’s team pursuit. Tara Whitten, Gillian Carleton and Jasmin Duehring won bronze in London 2012, and Allison Beveridge, Jasmin Duehring, Kirsti Lay, Georgia Simmerling and Laura Brown matched the feat in Rio 2016. In fact, the last two Olympic Games podiums had been Great Britain, U.S.A. and Canada. The U.S.A. was the reigning world champion.

On Monday Beveridge, Duehring, Annie Foreman-Mackey, and Georgia Simmerling were in action for Canada. The qualifying was without competition and Team Canada was the sixth of eight teams to race 4 km.

Germany broke Great Britain’s 4:10.236 world record with a time of 4:07.307.

Beveridge led Team Canada in the first laps. The quartet was down 2.228 seconds on Germany at the midway mark. Beveridge swung off with 1.5 km to ride. Unfortunately, the remaining trio lost the plot a bit and Canada was sixth of the six teams so far. The Brits and U.S.A. went on to post the second and third fastest times respectively.

Beveridge leads out Team Canada on Lap 1.

The women’s first round is at the beginning of Tuesday’s program. Canada will face France.

The men’s team pursuit qualifying was special; it was the first time Canada had made it to the Olympic Games in 45 years. In the last World Cup, the Canadian men placed fifth overall, and in the 2020 Berlin world championships the squad came eleventh. Vincent de Haître, Michael Foley, Derek Gee, Jay Lamoureux were flying the flag for Canada.

The Canadian foursome went first. De Haître pulled the quartet for 1.5 km and then dropped off. The bell lap was a little ragged, but the outfit posted 3:50.455, only 0.18 off the Olympic record.

The Canadian men line up in the Izu Velodrome.

The Germans and Swiss couldn’t match Canada, but the Italians were flying, and broke the Olympic record with 3:45.895. Several minutes later Denmark, who owns the world record with 3:44.672 set at the 2020 Berlin World Championships, broke the Olympic record again, stopping the clock at 3:34.014. Australia had a rider crash early due to a snapped handlebar. Eventually the Aussies got to try again.

The men’s team pursuit first round is also Tuesday.