January 23, 2014 (Vancouver, BC) – The Global Relay Bridge-the-Gap (BTG) fund, a program created to help Canada’s most promising amateur cyclists reach the professional ranks, today celebrated its first year in operation with the announcement that a fifth rider from its program will be going pro, as Alizee Brien from St-Jérôme, Quebec has signed with Team TIBCO for the 2014 season.
In early December, Calgary’s Kris Dahl joined Team SmartStop after riding for the team as a trainee at the Inaugural Tour of Alberta in August. Also, joining the pro-ranks is Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin of Neuville, Quebec with France’s Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope-86, Alex Cataford of Kanata, Ontario with Italian team Amore e Vita, and a new 2014 BTG rider, Anika Todd of Victoria, BC with Team TIBCO.
According to Dahl, Global Relay’s Bridge-the-Gap fund has played an integral role in helping him achieve a professional contract.
“This past year, BTG’s financial support allowed me to attend bigger and better races, including a trip to Ireland to race with the Canadian National Team,” said Dahl. “And it’s not just the financial support that the fund provides, but a high degree of mentoring and support to help guide my cycling career. BTG was able to use its connections with professional teams to help secure my professional contract for the 2014 season. Their commitment to the development and support of young riders has been very much appreciated and I owe the fund a huge thank you”.
The Bridge-the-Gap fund was a created by Vancouver tech leader Global Relay in November 2012 with the support of current and former Canadian cycling professionals Svein Tuft (Orica GreenEDGE), Will Routley (Optum Pro Cycling), Ryan Anderson (Optum Pro Cycling), Erinne Willock and Andrew Pinfold, who serve as the BTG’s board. The program is designed to address the gap that exists in the development of Canadian cyclists between the ages of 19 to 25, by helping provide access to the coaching, resources and equipment up-and-coming cyclists need to reach their full potential. In addition, the board’s members play a key role in networking with US managers and coaches to secure spots on professional teams.
“I think we demonstrated in our first year the positive impact that this program has in terms of supporting aspiring Canadian athletes,” said Pinfold. “We are very pleased to have helped four riders reach the pro ranks. This of course could not have been achieved without the support of Global Relay whose leadership has believed in our initiative from the start. Going forward, we aim to move more riders into the pro ranks, and hopefully see them represent Canada at the Olympic Games and World Championships. We will also continue to support our established professional female cyclists who face significant disparities in terms of financial support compared to their male colleagues.”
Warren Roy, CEO, Global Relay, says the fast-growing Vancouver technology company is pleased to support an organization that’s plays such an important role in the lives of Canadian athletes.
“We’re delighted to be able to help Canada’s aspiring cyclists develop the careers and pursue their dreams,” said Roy. “It’s has been a thrill to watch them compete against top North American riders at the Gastown Grand Prix and we look forward to one hopefully cheering them on when they represent Canada on the world stage.”
One story that highlights how Global Relay’s support helps in this area has been the performance of Joelle Numainville, who captured her first national time trial championships, thanks in part to her preparation that included some specific aero testing at the Los Angeles Velodrome that was financed by BTG.
“Last year, I had the opportunity, with the help of BTG to go over to the track in LA and do some aero testing,” said Numainville. “My time trial position was improved significantly and I was able to win the National tittle for this first time in my career.”
For 2014, the BTG board has made a strategic decision to support more riders and fund special projects during the summer. Board member Ryan Anderson explains; “In 2013, we saw that mid-year funding was critical in helping move riders to pro teams. We also observed that there were more riders that had what it took to move up the ranks in Canada than were on our rosters.”
As a result, the fund will support an additional eight riders in 2014, bringing the total to 23 for 2014.
2014 Global Relay Bridge-the-Gap Riders
- Jenny Lehmann (Kamloops, BC) Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes
- Lex Albrecht (Montreal, QC) TWENTY16 Professional Cycling
- Alizee Brien (Val-David, QC) Tibco/To The Top
- Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Neuville, QC) Vienne-Furturoscope
- Annie Ewart (Brentwood Bay, BC) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
- Denise Ramsden (Yellowknife, NT) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
- Leah Kirchmann (Winnipeg, MB) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
- Joelle Neumanville (Laval, QC) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
- Garrett McCleod (Wolfville, NS) Team H&R BLOCK
- Kris Dahl (Calgary, AB) Team SmartStop
- Alex Cataford (Kanata, ON) Amore & Vita
- Adam DeVos (Victoria, BC) Team H&R BLOCK
- Nigel Elsay (Courtenay, BC) Sojasun Espoir
- Brandon Etzl (St.Catharines, ON) JetFuel Coffee, Norco Bicycles
- Stuart Wight (Riverview, NB) H&R Block
- Tessa Pinkston (White Rock, BC) Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes
- Kinley Gibson (Edmonton, AB) Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes
- Anika Todd (Victoria, BC) TIBCO to the Top
- Annie Foreman-Mackey (Kingston, ON) Stevens Racing p/b the Cyclery
- Mateo Dal-Cin (Ottawa, ON) Stevens p/b The Cyclery
- Bailey McKnight (Calgary, AB) Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes
- Travis Samuel (Oshawa, ON) JetFuel Coffee/ Norco Bicycles
- Jack Burke (Toronto, ON) National Cycling Centre, Hamilton