As he barrels around the banked velodrome’s oval track, inches separate the wheels of Jay Lamoureux’s bike from his teammates’.
As the four speeding cyclists feel the G-force pushing down on them, Lamoureux’s grip is tight, his core is braced, but ease guides his tire to keep him smooth so he doesn’t skid on the wood floor.
“You’re going 60 to 70 km/h and you’re shooting up a 40-degree slope. It feels like you’re about to blast off in the space shuttle,” he said. “There’s a lot of finesse in going fast and doing those big power turns. It’s a pretty crazy experience for sure and it feels pretty good when you get it right.”
It’s become second nature for the four-person pedalling procession that makes up Canada’s track cycling men’s team pursuit squad set to compete at the Tokyo Summer Olympics next month.
Victoria’s Lamoureux usually starts in the third position from the front. He’s admittedly not the most muscular cyclist, so he sticks to his strength as a lasting long hauler throughout the race.
“I’m more of an aerobic engine than anaerobic,” he said. “Once I’m on and we’re going fast, I’m pretty strong at that type of role.”
Building up that cycling capacity is something he attributes to his local roots. The Fairfield neighbourhood native first started cycling with his dad as a kid and can still be found whipping down the waterfront or frequenting the Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail whenever he’s home.
“It’s a fantastic place to stay fit and active, so that definitely played a role into the role I play on the team,” Lamoureux said. “I think a community raises an Olympian.”
Before making it to the international stage, his competitive journey began with Oak Bay High’s cycling team.
“I’m definitely the product of a pretty amazing place and a lot of people that have put a lot of effort into fostering that,” he said.
Tokyo 2020 will be Lamoureux’s first Olympics. After the team obtained enough qualifying points to basically seal their ticket to the Summer Games back in 2019, they were in pandemic-induced limbo as they weren’t sure if Canada would send its athletes or not. With Canada also not sending the cyclists to any World Cups this year, it’s been hard to gauge where the team’s top competition of Denmark, Italy, Australia and New Zealand are at.
But Lamoureux said he’s definitely prepared for Tokyo. When he gets to the starting line, the 25-year-old will feel some nerves, but said they’re just the “body’s way of getting ready.” From there, it’ll just be a matter of trusting in his training and his teammates.
“I just kind of turn the mind off and let the body do the work,” he said.