by Dan Proulx, Coach for Team Canada at Pan Am Track Champs
Svein Tuft raced consistently and strongly to take the Pan American Championships in the Pursuit today in Montevideo, Uruguay. Svein rode 4:46 in the qualifier and headed into the final (less than 45 minutes after the qualifier was held) with a time that was nearly six seconds faster than his closest rival from Argentina. In the final, Svein rode another 4:46 to take the Gold Medal. Canada’s first of the championship. Svein rode smoothly and powerfully in the event Ã‹â€ finally breaking his opponent in the final kilometre of the race.
It was incredible to see how much honour Svein’s win commanded. The Pan American Championship win is very prestigious. Svein was congratulated over and over again by fellow riders and coaches from many different countries. The podium presentation was held in front of filled to capacity spectator stands. The race was also televised live on National television. Svein’s win was a great start for Canada’s Pan American competition.
The track in Montevideo is an outdoor 333m with a steep banking and a very rough surface. Times in all events were slowed by the windy conditions this evening. Svein rode a very good time tonight.
Zach Bell and Svein Tuft were both set to ride the scratch race this evening which was set to begin after the Pursuit, Team Sprint, 500m and Opening Ceremonies. The race was scheduled for 7pm on the official program (confirmed at the managers meeting held in the morning). Suddenly, the scratch race was moved to immediately follow the medal presentations for the pursuit, team sprint and 500m (over one hour earlier than officially scheduled). Svein was in doping control (and prohibited from leaving for his event) when the riders went up to the rail. Zach was just arriving at the track with over an hour to prepare for the published start time of the race. Many teams were caught off guard by the sudden change and had to scramble to get riders to the start. Unfortunately for both Zach and Svein it wasn’t possible to get to the start in time. No official protest was possible. I spoke with the Chief Commissaire who simply stated “schedule change”. I showed him the official schedule that had been given to managers in the morning (showing Pursuit, Opening Ceremonies – then Scratch Race at 7pm). Again, the only reply was “schedule change”. It was a very frustrating situation to say the least. No official Communiqué was ever released regarding the schedule change (despite all changes for Monday’s program being done with standard Communiqués.)
The Opening Ceremonies were to feature over 50 performers who were to be the entertainment at the ceremony. They had arrived before 5pm to prepare for the scheduled 6pm start. They were moved because of the “schedule change” to the end of the night’s program Ã‹â€ performing after most of the riders and staff had already left for dinner. The schedule change had obviously come as a huge surprise to more than just the riders!
The frustration from this event will be put to good use in the remainder of the championships where Svein and Zach will be solid medal threats in every event they ride. The circumstances surrounding the scratch race has further strengthened their resolve to do well in the Championships.
Despite today’s difficulties, Svein’s win sets the tone for how Canada expects to do at these championships. Svein is coming off some very tough racing at the Tour of Georgia and his form will only improve as the competition progresses. Zach continues to improve each day as he recovers from a shoulder injury suffered prior to the World Championships.
Zach Bell’s chiropractor, Jenn Turner of Vancouver, has volunteered her expertise at the Championships here in Uruguay Ã‹â€ looking after Svein and helping Zach with daily therapy on his shoulder. According to Turner, “Zach is healing at a remarkable rate”. This bodes well for Zach’s continued success on the track this summer.
Monday is a rest day for the Canadian endurance riders at the Pan American Track Championships. They will compete again in the Men’s Madison on Tuesday.
|1. Svein Tuft (Canada)||4.46.775|
|2. Fernando Antogna (Argentina)||4.56.920|
|3. Jaime Suaza (Colombia)||4.52.200|
|4. Weimar Roldan (Colombia)||4.53.201|
|5. Jorge Soto (Uruguay)||4.53.972|
|6. Jorge Contreras (Chile)||4.55.420|
|7. Jhnony Morales (Guatemala)||5.02.255|
|8. JosÃƒÂ© Medina (Chile)||5.02.495|
|9. Mariano De Fino (Uruguay)||5.07.196|
|10. Edgardo Lugo (Mexico)||5.08.716|
|11. Rodolfo Avila (Mexico)||5.10.561|
|12. Manuel Rodas (Guatemala)||5.15.580|
|13. Hersson Jimenez (Costa Rica)||5.25.370|
Svein and Zach Bell were scheduled to race the Scratch Race later in the evening.