Nicole Bradbury, 14, won the U-17 Individual Pursuit, rode for the gold medal-winning Team Sprint and Team Pursuit squads and finished third in the 500 metre Time Trial. – Courtesy of National Cycling Centre Hamilton | Photo by: Ivan Rupes Photography

Ancaster club wins big at national junior cycling championships

National Cycling Centre Hamilton riders win one-fifth of all the medals available

Article by: Steve Milton
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Rick Lee says he’s “very happy,” and if he weren’t, you’d begin to question why.

The manager and head coach of the National Cycling Centre Hamilton just saw his riders capture a stunning 21 per cent of all the available medals at the recent Canadian Junior Track Championships at Milton’s Mattamy National Cycling Centre.

It was the most successful Junior Nationals in the 13-year history of the Ancaster-based club.

The avalanche of podium positions was overwhelming, reflecting the depth and breadth of NCCH programs and the club’s reframed philosophical approach to its younger elite athletes.

Of the 15 riders the centre registered for the age-class Nationals, 11 came home as Canadian champions in either individual or team events, or both. Combined, they captured eight gold medals, eight silvers and eight bronzes; and in the 10 team events NCCH riders were part of a staggering six Canadian championship squads and another three runners-up.

“We changed things around a bit this year,” Lee said. “There is a lot of pressure on young riders to make national teams, and we took that pressure off them this year. We want them to develop into good people and good bike riders, ones who’ll still be riding in 20 years. The whole view was more relaxed this year. And it worked.”

And then some.

Kaitlyn Rauwerda harvested six medals from the women’s U-19 field, including golds in the Points race, and with teammate Victoria Slater in the Team Pursuit. She and Slater combined for a silver in the Madison. And Rauwerda also won an individual silver in the Elimination and bronze medals in both the Individual Pursuit and Scratch races.

Lee described Hamilton’s Nicole Bradbury, who won’t be 15 until October and is in her first season of training, as NCCH’s “find of the championships.” She won the U-17 Individual Pursuit, rode for the gold medal-winning Team Sprint and Team Pursuit squads and finished third in the 500 metre Time Trial.

“We had expected her to do well,” Lee said, “But not that well.”

Other NCCH athletes who were part of team gold-medal winners were Ethan Sittlington and Justin Correa in the U-19 men’s Team Pursuit; Rich Elliot and Carson Mattern in the men’s U-17 Team Pursuit; Ainsley Black, who joined with Slater to win the U-19 women’s Team Sprint; and Emma Lazenby, Kathleen Turbitt and Natasha Badertscher, who won gold with Bradbury in the U-17 women’s Team Pursuit.

Jack Sirman and Correa won silver in the U-19 men’s Team Sprint, and Sirman was also with Chris Merrick and Ronan Johnson for a silver medal in the Team Pursuit.

Lazenby won silver medals in the Scratch and Elimination individual races, while Elliot (U-17 men’s Scratch) and Slater (U-19 women’s Time Trial) also won individual silver medals.

Individual bronzes went to Black who captured two (U-19 women’s Time Trial and Keirin), Kathleen Turbitt (U-17 women’s Scratch), Lazenby (U-17 women’s Points) and Sittlington (U-19 men’s Points).

With the Junior Nationals acting as one of the major qualifying events Lee expects a half-dozen or so NCCH riders to be in the initial pool for the Canadian junior national team.

Meanwhile, he stresses that the club, which is supported by Franklin Templeton Investments, has a variety of other programs, including one for beginners, and a nwq initiative that has sent three U-23 riders, including Jerseyville’s Jordan Jones, to Belgium to compete and soak up some of the deeply-rooted Belgian cycling culture.

The NCCH is considering expanding that program to include a number of younger local cyclists next year.

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