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Tanya Dubnicoff ready to race for gold in cycling's 500-metre time trial

 
Canada's Tanya Dubnicoff, watches for the start signal as she practices at the velodrome in Sydney. (CP/Ryan Remiorz)

NEIL STEVENS


SYDNEY (CP) - Tanya Dubnicoff is ready to play Beat The Clock. Canada's premier female sprint cyclist goes for gold Saturday in a 500-metre time trial (12 a.m., EDT, CBC). Each racer goes it alone, with the fastest earning the top podium spot. It's the first time women have contested the event in the Olympic Games.

"I'm mentally and physically in the best shape I've ever been in," Dubnicoff, 30, of Winnipeg said after her Thursday workout. "Really, that's all you can hope for going into the Games.

"A lot of people have been sick in the village but you take your precautions. I feel the preparation we've had has been perfect."

She's also entered in the women's sprint, where she'll go head to head with her rivals. Qualifying races for that one go two days after the 500 time trial. It's a heavy workload, but she's eager for the challenge.

Experience helps. Dubnicoff is one of the world's top three short-distance cycling stars. She expects to be on the podium Saturday.

"Sometimes when you're new there's a lot of guessing but because we've been doing this for so long we pretty much have a blueprint of what needs to be done," she said.

Her parents arrived Thursday. A family dinner was planned. Then it's back to work.

"I love riding my bike," she said. "I'm just looking forward to going out and racing my bike and having a good time and rising to the occasion."

Felicia Ballanger of France will post the time to beat. Ballanger, 29, has won the time trial title at each of the last three world championships. She won Olympic gold in 1996 in Atlanta in a match sprint. Dubnicoff, a former world champion herself, finished eighth in her Atlanta sprint. She craves for this opportunity to knock off Ballanger.

"She's an incredible athlete. Good for her. I have a little bit of an admiration thing for her. It's a respect thing. When I'm up against her, it's a great challenge. It would be an amazing accomplishment to beat this woman. That's what I think about every time I race her. To knock her off, do you know how good that's going to feel?"

Dubnicoff has been Canadian sprint champion since 1991. She's been the best in the country for a decade - a phenomenal run of success. Now, at her third Olympics, she wants to cap it all with a victory.

"Since 1998, I've been top three in the world," she added. "That's not luck. That's not hoping.

"That's because of hard work and great preparation. I'm not coming in here hoping. I know I'm riding fast, riding well. We just don't know what anybody else is doing.

"So, my ammunition is what I'm doing. The plan is: day of the race, go out there and do the best I can. I know I have it in me to be better than I ever have been, and this is going to be the arena it's going to happen in.

"I don't know what the others are going to do but I know I'm going to rock."

Reprinted with permission

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