February 20, 2011 (Manchester, GBR) – Canadian track cyclists Tara Whitten and Zach Bell were crowned World Cup champion of the Omnium today as the 2011 UCI World Cup season came to an end in Manchester, Great Britain. Tara Whitten from Edmonton, AB, the defending World Champion in the event, will enter the World Championships next month bearing the title of World Cup champion. Whitten stepped on the podium in all three races she competed in, winning her first ever World Cup gold medal in an individual event last month in Beijing, China. Whiten took two silver medals to open up the season in Melbourne and Cali.
Zach Bell from Watson Lake, Yukon who trains in North Vancouver, BC, also had a great year stepping on the podium in all three races. Bell won the silver medal in Melbourne to kick off the 2011 season, then took the bronze medal in Cali. In his last World Cup race in Beijing, Bell took the second place to secure enough points for the title.
It was the first time that the omnium title was awarded on the UCI World Cup tour since the discipline is new. The omnium will make its Olympic deput at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, GBR.
“It has been a great year and I am proud to find a level where I can take a title like this on behalf of all Canadians. To do this in conjunction with my friend and teammate Tara is a dream come true for sure. Both of us reaching the top of the World cup Ranking in its first year, in the Olympic qualification process is a result of the hard work of each of us as athletes, as well as the hard work put forward by Richard, Tanya, Adam, Jon and Sandy and all the other members of the IST team,” said Zach Bell.
“These results only draw attention to the fact that with the right support, Canada can produce the best athletes in the world. Tara and I are a cross country skier and a wrestler turned into World Cup Champions by a program that has only started to do things right. With a steady increase of support and a progression of the staff’s vision for the team all the athletes involved in the program can reach this level. It is a truly exciting era of Canadian sport and I am sure I am just as excited as Tara to be one of the athletes leading the charge towards summer podium success at the 2012 Olympics,” added Bell.
The Canadian track cycling team is led by Head Coach Richard Wooles of Vancouver, BC.
“This is a great day for Canadian cycling, for Zach and Tara. We are all very proud! Looking ahead we are building our team outwards to have a system in place for more results can come our way, said Wooles. “This is a great start in our build up to London 2012. Thanks for all the people that make thing work; we are all very lucky to have such a great team helping us at the track and back in Canada.”
Jacques Landry, high performance director at the Canadian Cycling Association, is confident of great results to come for Canadians at the World Championships and at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“With two World Cup titles from Tara and Zach, we are very optimistic for the immediate future leading into Worlds in March, but also for London in 522 days! The success that these two athletes have demonstrated is a reflection of their tremendous talent and work ethics supported by a professional team. This will contribute to building a solid system that will put Canada in a position as one of the top track countries in the world,” said Landry.
The Canadian track cycling will now prepare for the 2011 UCI World Championships, which will be held in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, from March 23 to 27.
Canada currently has three World Cup title holders: Whitten, Bell and Catharine Pendral in the women’s cross-country Mountain bike.
The Canadian Cycling Association is the governing body for competitive cycling in Canada. Founded in 1882, the CCA aims to create and sustain an effective system that develops talented Canadian cyclists to achieve Olympic, Paralympic and World Championship medal performances.
With the vision to be a leading competitive cycling nation by 2020 celebrating enhanced international success, increased a participation and world class event hosting, the CCA manages the National teams, hosts national and international events, and administers community programs to promote Cycling in Canada. For more information, please visit www.canadian-cycling.com.