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Three athletes named to Canada's Olympic track cycling team

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The Canadian Press
7/3/2008 6:20:33 PM
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OTTAWA - Gina Grain of Burnaby, B.C.,  Zach Bell of Watson Lake, Yukon and Martin Gilbert of Chateauguay, Que., will compete for Canada in track cycling at the Beijing Olympics next month.

The Canadian Cycling Association announced Thursday that Grain will compete in the women's points race, Bell in the men's points race and Madison and Gilbert in the Madison.

Canada's Lori-Ann Muenzer won a gold medal in track cycling at the Athens Olympics four years ago. She has since retired.

"This is an experienced team," said Sean O'Donnell, the CCA's manager of high performance programs. "All three athletes have spent considerable time over the last number of years competing on the World Cup circuit. They head to Beijing very familiar with their opponents."

Bell and Gilbert will team up for the Madison, an event where teams of two riders try to accumulate the most points in intermediate sprints during a 60-kilometre race. Riders from each team alternate turns on track.

"It's probably one of the most dynamic races on the track," said Bell."Because of the rest factor you can race quite a bit harder and with a lot more intensity. It's exciting and spectator friendly which are some of the reasons I like it along with the speed factor."

Grain turned to track cycling in 2004 after starting her cycling career on the road.

"The crossover from road to track has worked really well," said Grain, a silver medallist in the points race at the 2006 world championships in France. "On the road I'm known more as a sprinter so that comes more naturally to me. So I had no problems going over to track plus having the endurance accumulated from the road is critical on the track as well."

Gilbert and Bell raced together in the Madison at an Olympic test event earlier this year in Beijing at the new Laoshan Velodrome.

"It was really nice but a lot of athletes complained the air quality wasn't good inside the velodrome," said Gilbert. "It's something they'll need to improve for the Olympics."

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