New UCI Canadian track cycling teams

The Canadian Cycling Association (CCA), in collaboration with Team R.A.C.E. (Race Against Cancer Everywhere) and Symmetrics Pro Cycling have announced that both professional teams have received a UCI track sanction starting January 2007. They are the first two Canadian teams to officially be granted this label.

Former Canadian National Champion in the Women’s Points Race and multiple national medalist in Women’s Pursuit, Keirin and Scratch Race, Julia Bradley will be representing Team R.A.C.E. at international meets in Los Angeles and Manchester. "The Team R.A.C.E. charity movement represents an amazing cause, and I’m very proud to have the opportunity to bring my team to the international track cycling circuit in 2007," said Bradley from her home in Toronto.

As for Symmetrics, the team will be targeting the Olympic selection. "Symmetrics Pro Cycling is very excited to extend its program beyond road into the track cycling world. The primary goal of our track program is in the pursuit of Olympic selection. We have a number of strong riders on the road and it only made sense to extend our program and offer our riders more opportunity to chase the Olympic dream," commented Kevin Cunningham, Symmetrics Pro Cycling Team Director. "Our first step is to begin working toward the Pan Am Championships in May 2007 to establish a benchmark in our performance."

Symmetrics already has one of Canada's top trackies on the squad, points and scratch racer Mandy Poitras - a former silver medallist at the Track Worlds. Svein Tuft, Canada’s top ranked road cyclist will also be putting in some hard time on the track in 2007 after capturing National Championship gold medals in the team pursuit and individual pursuit.

Furthermore, the squad has signed Zach Bell and Anne-Brit Ericksen. Bell who, this past year, nabbed four medals at the National Track Championships in Dieppe, New Brunswick - he won gold in the men's points race, gold as part of the team pursuit, silver in the individual pursuit and silver in the men's scratch race. At the Pan Am Championships this year, Bell took a bronze medal in the pursuit. Riding at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Bell took ninth overall and broke the decade-old pursuit record set by Olympic medalist Brian Walton. Ericksen brings added strength on the women’s side with National Championship gold medals in the 500 metre TT, Women’s sprint and the Keirin.

Pursuiting also a decided goal of the Symmetrics team. With the country's top time triallists on its roster, it has several riders who would excel nationally, and internationally, in the four-kilometre test. With a handful potential individual pursuiters, that also means assembling a team pursuit squad with a real chance of Olympic qualification - something Canada has desperately lacked for several years. Shortly, team management will be considering other Canadian athletes that could round out the team in order to attain its pursuiting goals.

This new status will allow both Symmetrics Pro Cycling and Team R.A.C.E. members to join the UCI World Cup circuit for the remaining 2006-2007 season. Riders will make their debut in Los Angeles January 19-21, followed by the Manchester, England UCI World Cup on February 23-25.

The development of UCI track trade teams is a major new asset for Canada, as riders will now enjoy a new structure, other than the National Team, to fully develop their potential and pursue their professional aspirations in cycling. The growth of professional Canadian track teams will also leverage the need for Canada to get an indoor 250m velodrome, an essential facility to perform at the highest level.

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