Former cross-country skier Tara Whitten handed Canada a rare track cycling gold when she won the women’s omnium at the world track cycling championships in Denmark on Saturday.
Whitten, who only started bike racing in 2008, proved the strongest of the field over five events to claim her first world title ahead of Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead and Spaniard Leire Olaberria.
The men’s and women’s omnium will make their debuts at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Whitten placed second in the omnium in Poland last year where the event made its championships debut.
And her bid to dethrone Australia’s inaugural winner, Josephine Tomic, was given a boost when Tomic pulled out after a crash in the second event, the scratch race.
Whitten went into the final of the five disciplines, the 500m time trial, equal on points with Armitstead but finished third to edge the 21-year-old Englishwoman.
Overall, Whitten was runner-up in the 200m flying start, ninth in the scratch, third in the 2km individual pursuit, sixth in the points race and third in the 500m time trial.
Olaberria finished equal on points with the Netherlands’ Yvonne Hijgenaar but claimed the bronze thanks to her better time in the timed events ─ a rule which allowed Hijgenaar to win the bronze last year.