January 26, 2009 – During the past 2 months Tim Heemskerk (Edmonton), Brian Robinson (Calgary) and Andrew Thomas (Regina) formed the first edition of Canada House in Holland. Aim of this project is having Canadian cyclo cross racers join a Dutch race team and gain race experience in Holland and Belgium towards the World championships cross in Hoogerheide. Both riders and their coach (and athlete) Tim Heemskerk joined Dutch team Jan Terpstra being fully supported with bikes, race and casual clothing, equipment, a team van, team mechanics, and a temporary new “home”, a bungalow in a vacation park in north of Holland. This kind of support takes away some stress you normally have to deal with while being overseas.
The level of cross racing in Europe is really high and it takes hard training, international race experience, and good support to be able to become more competitive at this level and a race like World Championships. We do hope this can become an annual project with hopefully support from Canadian sponsors as well. This year’s project was fully supported by Team Jan Terpstra and Tim’s Training Program (TTP).
Here’s how this year’s racers experienced the first edition of project Canada House in Holland.
“As a coach, racer and initiator of the project it was not always easy dealing with everything, but I am happy we did it and the support of the team in Holland and team manager Maarten Kemperman was tremendous. It is all about providing all 3 of us experience in racing cross in Europe, and especially Brian and Andrew learned a lot.
It is not easy being away from your family at this young age.
They will benefit from these experiences in their future racing career and in life in general. Hopefully this experience has put them at a higher level and it will pay off a bit at Worlds in Hoogerheide in 1 week from now. Off course they need more race experience and hard work to be able to race competitively against racers from Europe. I do hope the project will get more support from within Canada since it was fully supported by the team and myself this first time.”
“I have spent the past seven weeks living here in the heart of cyclocross country, so I could gain fitness and experience the European race style. The reasoning for this is to simply aid in my performance at World Championships in Hoogerheide on Zatterdag, Jan. 31. I have done ten races in preparation for Worlds and these ten races produced four flat tires, one huge crash resulting in a sprained shoulder, and one broken shifter, not to mention the Zolder World Cup where the inexperience played a huge factor. Although, that is an unbelievable streak of bad luck and frustration, that doesn’t erase the fitness and experience I have gained.
So, with my biggest race yet to come, I have gained everything I set out to Holland too achieve. Although, the training and racing are up me, it is truly the people behind the scenes that make racing professional cyclocross possible. Maarten Kemperman, Jan Terpstra team manager and Tim Heemskerk, project manager and coach, have made this all possible. They have provided everything from equipment to technical support to accommodations and much more. Without their tireless efforts, I would have remained in the -30oc temperatures of Canada and come to World Championships a week prior to race day. You can imagine how unprepared I would have been!”
“The inaugural Canada House in Holland project will be coming to a finish next week, but the most important race is still to come. The goal of this project was to gain as much European racing experience as possible and use that to excel at the World Championships in Hoogerheide on January 31st.
This project has taken a lot of hard work from everyone, and it has been a resounding success. Racing in Europe is completely different from anything that can be experienced in Canada; the racers here are aggressive, fast, and very good technically. The biggest learning experience for me has been the starts. When the gun goes off it is an all-out sprint, you have to do everything possible to be ahead of the next guy when you hit the first corner.
We are now in the last week of hard training before tapering for the 31st. Hopefully everything comes together next weekend and we will be able to show the World how much we have learned from our experiences these past weeks.
Big thanks to our coach, Tim Heemskerk, our manager Maarten Kemperman of the Noordelijk Mountain Bike Team, Ridley Bikes, our mechanics Rients and Lars, and every one else who made this project possible”.
Keep track of all team activities and team performances at www.cyclocrossteam.nl