July 30, 2016 (Milton, ON) – Beautiful weather and a crowd of about 100 fans were on hand for the Rio 2016 Olympic Ride Off and Barbecue event at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, ON on July 29.
The highlight of the day was the kick-off exhibition race that saw the Canada’s Women’s Team Pursuit squad face off against the Men’s Paralympic Tandem in a head-to-head race simulation.
Daniel Chalifour and Jean-Michel Lachance took an early lead but the team of Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay, Georgia Simmerling and Allison Beveridge got the upper hand in the end to take the win and an unofficial 4,000m national record.
“We started off strong but as things progressed the women’s squad picked up speed and in the end we couldn’t hold them off,” said Lachance who is Chalifour’s new pilot as the duo recently won bronze at Para-cycling Track Worlds in Montichiari, Italy.
The event was also a dress rehearsal for Rio as the Olympic format spreads out the timing of the competitions and in the case of the Women’s Team Pursuit that means three days.
“It was great to race against the men’s tandem…something different for us and also great to see fans come out to cheer us on. I think that made the difference for us,” commented Lay.
Following the racing fans and athletes headed outside for a fabulous barbecue and a chance to mingle with the stars. MC Steve Fleck interviewed several riders including Monique Sullivan and Jasmin Glaesser as the countdown to Rio begins.
Team Canada has had some excellent results leading up to the Games and there was lots of talk about the Junior Track team’s recent four medals at the world championships in Switzerland and how the Mattamy track in Milton is already a “game-changer” making all the difference.
Canada’s track team leaves for Rio on Aug. 3 and will have five days to check out the new velodrome which is slightly smaller than the Milton track and a bit different in shape. “It’s similar to the LA track where we’ve spent lots of time,” said Craig Griffin, Women’s Endurance Coach, “And five days should be enough time for acclimatization and we’ll be ready to go.”
“This event gave us a chance for some final tweaking and build more confidence heading into the Games,” said Jacques Landry, High Performance Director at Cycling Canada. “We’ve had some great results so far and I’m proud of our team of coaches etc. and our athletes and hope to continue with more great performances in Rio.”
The Games run from Aug. 5-21 starting with the road races on Aug 6-7 followed by the track events from Aug. 11-15. The Para-cycling team will continue training a the Paralympic Games are set for Sept. 7-18, with the para-cycling track events from Sept. 8-11 and the road events from Sept. 14-17.
Check out our interviews to follow.
Rio 2016 Team Canada announcement here.