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Track worlds day 1 preview: large Canadian squad has plenty of chances for medals

A slew of racing action in France

by Barry Lyster

Opening Day at the UCI Tissot Track World Championships will see Canada compete in the women’s and men’s team pursuit qualifiers, team sprint qualifiers and the women’s scratch Race finals. On paper, Canada has entered their youngest group of men’s and women’s team pursuit riders ever. The men’s starting line-up includes 2021 three-time junior worlds medalist Dylan Bibic, Carson Mattern, fresh off his double junior track world championships gold medal wins, with Mathias Guillemette and Sean Richardson rounding out the fab four. Evan Burtnik and Chris Ernst will be the alternates.

The men’s pursuit team is without their 2 veteran riders and Tokyo Olympians Derek Gee and Michael Foley. It will be interesting to see how this group of young riders performs in their attempt to qualify through in the top eight against a field of 16 Teams.

On the women’s side, Cycling Canada chose to send only four women to this year’s championships, a move which leaves the Canadian quartet with no alternates to help bolster their line-ups. Returning from last year’s Worlds Championship team is 2022 Commonwealth bronze medalist Maggie Coles-Lyster, three-time 2022 Pan American Track Championship gold medalist Sarah Van Dam, Erin Atwell with Ruby West joining the team in her first Track World’s. After finishing 4th at last year’s championships, the team will be in tough to qualify in through to the first round against a very strong group of nations.

On Canada’s sprint side, the sprint trio of Kelsey Mitchell, Jackie Boyle and Sarah Orban will be looking to do something special at this year’s worlds and reach the podium. After their bronze medal performance at the Milton Nations Cup and gold at the Pan American Track Championships, the team has a good chance to advance through to the round of eight where the likes of last year’s World Champs Germany, silver medalist Great Britain and the hometown French squad will be three powerhouses they will need to contend with before a trip to the podium can be earned.

The men’s team sprint also has something to prove, after squeaking through as the seventh seed at last year’s event. With team veteran Hugo Barrette will not be participating this time around, the burden will be placed on the shoulders of returning riders Nick Wammes and Tyler Rorke who will be joined by James Hedgcock. It will be interesting to see if they can build on the momentum after their bronze medal at the Milton Nations Cup and Gold at the Pan American Track Championships as they will be in deep against last year’s top 3 includinth Netherlands, France and Germany.

Maggie Coles-Lyster has a great shot at bringing home a medal in the scratch race on this first day of competition. After just missing the podium placing 4th at last year’s championship scratch race, Coles-Lyster plans to build on her Commonwealth Games scratch race bronze to reach the podium at tonight’s race. This race is always a bit of a wild card on how it will play out so Coles-Lyster is looking to draw the ace of spades this evening.