A pair of Saanich teens were once again at the forefront at the 2017 National Track Cycling Championships in Milton, Ont., last month.
Fifteen-year-old Riley Pickrell from Claremont secondary and a member of Tripleshot Cycling set four Canadian records while dominating the men’s U17 category with seven gold medals and one silver in the nine events he entered (last year Pickrell won four gold, two silver and a bronze in the same age bracket). He was among a group of eight current and former Tripleshot Cycling members who dominated the Canadian competition at this year’s track nationals.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way our Tripleshot riders performed in Milton,” said Kurt Innes, coach of the Tripleshot Performance Program and head coach of the FastTrack program at the Westshore Velodrome. “It was an amazing week of racing… As a coach, it is always so very rewarding to help young riders achieve their goals.”
Pickrell earned gold in the 500-metre time trial, the two-kilometre individual pursuit, the flying 200m, the scratch race (7.5km, 30 laps), the Keirin and two team sprints. That includes Canadian records in the 500m TT, the individual pursuit (2km) and 200m sprint.
The only race he didn’t medal in was the elimination final.
“This year I felt far more prepared than the year previous,” Pickrell said. “This is the first year under a individual training plan, which made a huge difference in my performance.”
Pickrell is also an accomplished speed skater though cycling has become a priority, he said. He’ll compete for a spot on Team B.C. to attend the Canadian Road Nationals this summer, June 24 in Ottawa, and has a long-term goal to reach the highest level he can in cycling.
“Whether that is to become a [UCI] World Tour road rider or a national team track rider, I haven’t made a decision [between focusing on road or track],” Pickrell said.
Also dominating at track nationals was the reigning national junior road race champion out of Gordon Head, Erin Attwell. The 17-year-old from Maria Montessori and the Canadian Sports School (PISE), and a former Tripleshot rider, competed in the U19 category for the second year, winning two gold, two silver and a bronze.
She won gold in the individual pursuit and in the team pursuit with Team B.C., silver in the team sprint, silver in the time trial and bronze in the sprint.
Most importantly, Attwell qualified for this summer’s 2017 World Junior Track Cycling Championships in Shenyang, China.
“This year I was feeling good,” Attwell said. “I have been rehabbing my back that has been impeding my training this winter so that was the No. 1 priority.”
Attwell is racing with the semipro Trek Red Truck women’s team this season and hopes to defend her road race title at this summer’s U19 road nationals in Ottawa and Gatineau.
“I’m looking forward to racing a familiar course as they haven’t changed it from last year,” Attwell said.
Attwell’s twin brother Adam continued his own rise in cycling since making the late switch from rowing.
Adam picked up silver in the team sprint and six top-10 performances.
To gear up for nationals Adam took on months of hard training that he wasn’t previously used to, he said. The goal was to make the time standard to go to worlds in the team pursuit.
“Unfortunately I didn’t make the time standard but I improved tremendously since last year, which I am very happy with,” he said.
Adam’s goals moving forward are to attend road nationals and the Tour de l’Abitibi in Quebec (July 17 to 23), and hopefully to qualify for the junior road worlds.
In total, Tripleshot riders picked up 11 national championships at the Canadian U19 Track Cycling Championships.
Sarah Van Dam of Oak Bay won nine medals (four gold, two silver and three bronze), including a silver in the team sprint with Casey Garrison of Reynolds secondary and gold in the team pursuit with Garrison, Megan Barnes (Maria Montessori) and Jessica Maitland (Oak Bay).
Aedan Crocker of Claremont secondary made his nationals debut at the event.