Edmontonâ€™s Tara Whitten, Victoriaâ€™s Gillian Carleton and Jasmine Glaesser of Coquitlam, B.C., set a Canadian womenâ€™s team pursuit record at the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Cup in London on Thursday.
â€œWe worked hard for every tenth of a second we got, and so I am very happy,â€ Whitten, a three-time world champion, said in a statement.
The trioâ€™s 3,000-metre time of three minutes 20.785 seconds was also tops among the 15 teams entered in the Olympic test event. Thatâ€™s just off the world record of 3:19.569, set by an American trio in May 2010.
The Canadians shaved nearly a second off the previous national record, set at the Pan American Games in Mexico last October. They will go for gold in Fridayâ€™s final against Great Britain, which finished second in 3:21.370. Third-place Australia and the Netherlands will battle for bronze.
â€œOnce we got out there, it was slightly different than what I had envisioned,â€ Glaesser, a national team rookie competing in her third womenâ€™s pursuit race, said. â€œIt was a bit windy, and relays werenâ€™t as smooth as they could have been. The team showed a lot of maturity tonight. We kept controlled and stayed relaxed â€” no one panicked. We executed as well as we could have, and we can be happy with that ride.â€
Carleton, also a rookie, was competing in her second womenâ€™s pursuit race.
â€œIt was a very exciting ride. I knew that our team was going really fast heading into this race,â€ she said. â€œWe raced the way we were capable. Itâ€™s really exciting to set the new Canadian record. Our goal was to qualify, and move on to the medal round. Now that I see what we can do, on a track with conditions that werenâ€™t as good as in training, I feel confident that we have a chance to win the gold medal (Friday), and put everything on the line again.â€
Fridayâ€™s schedule will include the final of the womenâ€™s team pursuit, the womenâ€™s scratch race, the womenâ€™s team sprint, the menâ€™s points race and the opening three races of the menâ€™s omnium.
The three-day event is one of three remaining to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Interviews with athletes Monique Sullivan and Tara Whitten, and CCA HP Director Jacques Landry, at the Track World Cup and Olympic test event in London, England.