June 13, 2017 Penticton, B.C. – The 2017 Hayman Classic youth stage race wrapped up Sunday to a chorus of praise along with questions about how to make it bigger and better in 2018. That may be a tough challenge.
This year’s edition featured sprints, climbs, dizzying descents and a circuit race on the ultra-smooth asphalt at Area 27, Canada’s newest motor speedway. And with every event came a blizzard of upbeat reviews on Twitter and Facebook, notably from the Ontario contingent – coaches as well as riders.
Adams said he would continue to talk up the Hayman Classic once he gets home, a commitment echoed by Rick Lee, coach of NCCH in Hamilton, Ont. For Lee, the venues, the terrain and the beauty of the Okanagan Valley combined for a memorable cycling experience, all of it wrapped in an environment that promotes skill development and sportsmanship. “The whole feel of this race is very special,” he said.
This was third year for the Hayman Classic, which is bidding to become a top event on the young cycling calendar both regionally and nationally.
Several changes were introduced this year to provide greater variety and challenges over a three-day competition that unfolded like this:
– On the morning of Day One, June 9, a mass-start hill climb that began in the Okanagan Valley south of Penticton and turned uphill over grades of 15 to 20 per cent;
– On the afternoon of Day One, a circuit race around the spanking new, 4.8-kilometre track at Area 27 near Oliver, B.C.;
– On Day Two, June 10, a fast-paced criterium in Penticton;
– On Day Three, June 11, a road race, also near Oliver, that featured a vertiginous descent with speeds of 80-plus kilometres an hour.
Top organizer and former Olympian Ron Hayman was pleased with the result, noting that the circuit race, the climbs, the descents and the sprints offered participants “a lot of firsts in racing experience. And that’s the goal – to give them real-world racing experiences against their peers.”
Asked for his thoughts on next year’s competition, Hayman at first said he would need a few days to recover from the accumulated fatigue of this year’s event. But within moments, his mind clearly awhirl, he was discussing his request that the Hayman Classic be added to Canada’s youth cycling calendar for 2018, a decision that could come this September.
Beyond that, he is considering a new stage for his namesake race and with that a new venue, both of which would add to the complexity and logistics of an already demanding operation.
But Hayman’s greater concern is attracting more riders, certainly from Canada, but also from the United States. This year only a single rider made the trek north. That was 14-year-old Gavin Bowen, of Bend Ore., who made the journey with his father Bart Bowen, two-time U.S. road champion.
The question is how to attract more. “We still have a problem with low participation,” said Hayman. Part of the difficulty is distance, which means greater travel time and cost. But next year there’s the added problem of dates – the junior national championships are scheduled for late June in Kamloops, B.C.
That raises a host of questions around cost and timing for teams that might want to attend the Hayman Classic, which has so far been held in early June.
Coach Art Adams of Kallisto-FCV said the timing of the two races is a significant challenge but if that can solved the Hayman Classic is “definitely a race I would put on my calendar for next year.” Coach Rick Lee of NCCH Lee described the situation in almost identical terms: “If the timing is right next year, we would certainly come back.”
Bart Bowen, the former U.S. champion who now runs Bowen Sports Performance in Bend, Ore., proposed more exchanges between Western provinces and states. “We need more events like this for juniors,” he said. “The northwest could have a really great (cycling) scene if we had more Americans coming to Canada and more Canadian coming to the States.”
As for the young cyclists at this year’s Hayman Classic, Victoria Slater probably spoke for most of them when she described her experience as unforgettable. For Slater, a U17 rider from NCCH in Hamilton, it was the first she had travelled to Western Canada, let alone B.C.
Asked if she would come again, her immediate reply was: “Yes. Definitely. Without a doubt.”
With the conclusion of the Hayman Classic, which is a four-event stage race, four riders received special jerseys for winning the general classification award in their respective age categories. They were:
– U15 girls: Lilly Ujfalusi, Devo pb Fortius, New Westminster, 3:29:47.97
– U15 boys: Erik Haaheim, Red Devils, Kelowna, 3:21:52.79
– U17/U19 girls: Elisabeth Gin, Cannondale pb Fortius, Surrey, 5:52:28.05
– U17/U19 boys: Ethan Palamerek: The Lead Out Project, Lacombe, 5:30:38.14
For full results, visit here.