Golden sweep for Canada in TO2015 track cycling team sprints

Hugo Barrette, Evan Carey and Joseph Veloce brought Canada its first gold in track cycling, then Monique Sullivan and Kate O’Brien made it a golden sweep in team sprint events at the Milton Velodrome on Thursday night.

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Joseph Veloce bikes over to the crowd after winning the men's team pursuit at the Pan Am Games on July 16, 2015.

Joseph Veloce bikes over to the crowd after winning the men’s team pursuit at the Pan Am Games on July 16, 2015.

Beating Venezuela for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games title in men’s sprint, the Canadian trio of Barrette, Carey and Veloce became the first major international gold medallists at the brand new velodrome (the only of its kind in Canada) that is now the permanent home to Canada’s track cyclists, for which the riders are grateful.

« It feels great. To win at home, in front of a Canadian crowd, that’s phenomenal, » Veloce said. « It’s different, we’re not used to it. We’re used to being in Europe where they’re all cheering for their own teams, but to have this crowd; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. »

(L-R) Hugo Barrette, Evan Carey and Joseph Veloce with their Pan Am Games team sprint gold medals from July 16, 2015.

(L-R) Hugo Barrette, Evan Carey and Joseph Veloce with their Pan Am Games team sprint gold medals from July 16, 2015.

The three-lap time for the Canadian men was 44.241 seconds, bettering the 45.087 of Venezuela. Brazil won bronze by defeating Colombia.

Nomads no more: Track cyclists come home

Canada’s women followed up later in the evening against Cuba, winning their race, which has two competitors and as many laps instead of three. Earlier in the day during qualification Sullivan and O’Brien broke the Pan Am record in 33.584 seconds. While they were slightly slower at 33.959 in the evening, it was still faster than Cuba’s 34.813.

Monique Sullivan waves to the crowd after winning the Pan Am Games women's team sprint on July 16, 2015.

Monique Sullivan waves to the crowd after winning the Pan Am Games women’s team sprint on July 16, 2015.

« Oh my gosh, it’s just amazing, » O’Brien said of the fans who showed up to urge the Canadians on in Milton. « I couldn’t believe the support of the home back stretch, I just heard screaming, so to have everyone out, family and friends and just Canadians in general being able to support us at home is just such a special experience. »

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O’Brien also rightly complimented her teammate saying “I always knew that Monique was a beast, so it was very good to have her behind me (on second lap), but I definitely surprised myself with my opening lap. So hopefully there’s more to come.”

Kate O'Brien (left) and Monique Sullivan after winning gold in the women's team sprint at Pan Am Games track cycling event on July 16, 2015.

Kate O’Brien (left) and Monique Sullivan after winning gold in the women’s team sprint at Pan Am Games track cycling event on July 16, 2015.

In between the golden sweep Canada’s women’s pursuit team also advanced to the final for Friday night in a showdown against the USA. The two countries are battling at the top of the medal table and the athletes in both camps will be keenly aware of its importance.

The last event of Thursday night was the men’s omnium, which featured Canadian Remi Pelletier, who was eliminated on Thursday but still has a chance to medal in the multi-event competition.