Team Sprint - Stefan Ritter, Joel Archambault, Patrice St Louis Povin
The end of the 2016 race season for me has been simply phenomenal. After Junior World Track Championships, I came back to Edmonton for a much needed break. However, I only had a few weeks off, as Alex was on my case to start training again - for good reason. I had received word from Erin Hartwell, the national sprint coach, that I was chosen to race the Elite Pan American Track Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico. As a side note, and if you don't already know, this track is one of the fastest in the world and one where many records are held. Foreshadowing...
Fast forward to Pan Ams: My legs were feeling good, and after setting a new 200 m PB the week before at the Milton International Challenge (10.177s), I was feeling confident and excited. The other reason I was so excited was because Alex would be along as one of Cycling Canada's coaches. This was going to be a darn good trip.
The first day of racing yielded a Bronze medal for Patrice, Joel and me in the Team Sprint. With virtually no TS work prior to Pan Ams, this was a huge success and we executed both rides very well.
Team Sprint at Pan Am Track Championships - Bronze for Canada
Stefan Ritter on his way to flying 200 TT Junior World Record
Stefan gets news (and support) from Team Canada coach Alex Ongaro: he has broken the Junior Kilo World Record.
The next day was the big day for me. Kilo day. Alex did a good job keeping me focused and calm, and most importantly, not letting the thought of a world record creep into my mind. I was in a headspace with zero expectation and pressure. As the track is at altitude, you feel your legs get heavy about half a lap earlier and holding on becomes that much harder.
As I crossed the line, I knew it wasn't the prettiest kilo I've ever done - I was just hoping I beat the time. But immediately I had slightly larger problems to concern myself with, such as attempting to walk, and breath.
After stumbling off my bike, I lay on the ramp for five minutes; after that Dan (the mechanic), and Alex more or less carried me back to the pit. It took me half an hour to finally catch my breath . . . by then, Alex had investigated and determined the official time (they didn't have a large scoreboard). I had done it! - with a time of 1:00.578. After a long escapade at Anti Doping, enabling my record to stand, Alex and I made it back to the hotel, and I went straight to the pool for a very relaxing swim.
The next day presented itself with the sprint tournament and the infamous flying 200. The goal was to execute a solid TT - and it didn't go too badly. My legs certainly did not feel fresh, but my time said otherwise.
I made my way down the ramp to the small TV displaying the times. I looked at the monitor and thought there must have been a mistake . . . and then proceeded to do a triple take. I couldn't believe it - I rode a 9.738! - which was another Junior World Record! Absolutely incredible.
Now the rest was gravy. I made my way to the quarter finals against the Trinidadian rider Kwesi Brown, and unfortunately did not make it further, riding in the 5-8 final. I learned a lot, as I experienced some riding styles that were completely foreign to me.
A draw against fellow Canadian Joel Archambault
The next day was the Keirin. Joel and I each razored our heats to the last round with ease. However, the final race was a different story. Racing against the powerful Colombian, Fabian Puerta, was a humbling experience to say the least. I finished 7th and Joel 8th - nonetheless, a decent result. Huge props to the rest of the Canadian team at Pan Ams, they got some seriously good results and there are a few Pan Am champs on the Canadian squad now!
Stefan with Team Canada coach Erin Hartwell
After the busiest five days of racing in my life, we journeyed back home to Edmonton. I had a great 3 week break and then hopped back on a plane to Toronto. I'm now in Milton training as a national team member. We are currently in a huge strength phase. This sees us in the gym five times per week and on the track four times per week. I'm eating upwards of 4000 calories a day and going through my fair share of food in the process. It's hard work, but it's very promising and I couldn't be more excited to put in the work and see results.
Once again thank you all very much for all the support. It goes a very long way and is absolutely instrumental in our success as a club.
Until next time!