September 5, 2007 (Auray, France) — The Canadian under-23 men’s road team is among the 21 national teams competing at the 2007 Tour de l’Avenir, which begins tomorrow in north-western France.
Christian Meier, David Veilleux, Keven Lacombe, Eric Boily, Ryan Anderson and Brad Fairall will line up for the first of 10 stages in Le Palais, on Belle-Ile-en-Mer off the coast of Brittany, near Quiberon. The remaining stages will bring the riders south-east through central France, to finish in St-Flour on Sept. 15.
“I’m looking for a good finish in the overall, or at least a good stage result in the last four stages,” said team leader Meier, who will be wearing the red-and-white national champion jersey. “It’s tough to say where my form is at because I took a little time off to recover for this and I haven’t raced in the last three weeks. The most important thing is to prepare for the worlds — that’s the big show.”
The team is heading into the unknown, as they are racing in an unfamiliar event against teams that they don’t know.
“It’s good to participate in a race of this level, as it will help us to really evaluate where we stand as well as prepare for the worlds,” said national time trial champion Veilleux. “It will be tough to go for the overall, but I’ll see how I go and maybe try for results in one or two stages.”
The Canadians warmed up for the Tour by competing in the Grand Prix de la Ville de FougÃ¨res, a classic event on the French national calendar. Ryan Anderson finished an impressive ninth.
The Tour de l’Avenir was founded in 1961 as the amateur Tour de France, and the list of past winners includes many riders who have gone on to illustrious careers, such as Greg LeMond and Miguel Indurain. It has been run under several different formats over the years, but today it is reserved for national teams in the espoir age category (19 to 22 years old).
The connection with the Tour de France is more than skin deep: Amaury Sports Organisation organizes both the Tour de l’Avenir and the Tour de France, as well as many other top events on the international calendar.