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Interview with Silber’s Nigel Ellsay at Tucson Bicycle Classic

by Ben Andrew

March 22, 2017 (Tuscon, AZ) – After a highly successful 2016 season, Silber Pro Cycling is gearing up for another round. The team saw success at many of the major racing events in North America, showing their capability of developing young Canadian talent. One of those riders who was at the fore in many major races was Nigel Ellsay who delivered the team’s first victory of 2017 winning the UCLA Road Race on Feb. 11.

UCLA Road Race podium (Stefano Barberi, Nigel Ellsay and Cameron Beard  ©  Silber Pro Cycling
The 22 year old from British Columbia had strong rides at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and Joe Martin Stage races at the beginning of last season. Last September, Ellsay finished 7th in the General Classification at the UCI 2.1 Tour of Alberta and 2nd overall in the Youth Classification, driving home his strength as a GC contender.

With the recent shuffling of the deck at Silber, Ellsay looks well poised to play a leadership role along with veteran Ryan Roth when the orange and black clade team lines up at major events in 2017.

Pedal Magazine caught up with Ellsay following the Tucson Bicycle Classic where he finished 2nd overall  behind UnitedHealth Care’s Travis McCabe. Team Silber is currently in Tucson for a training camp leading up to their racing season which kicks off later this month.

Nigel Ellsay (Silber) at BC Superweek  ©

Given the big roster shift at Silber how has the squad been shaping up for 2017?
Nigel Ellsay: Certainly there has been a few adjustments made at the team. We lost some riders, but took on new, super dudes. Most are quite young and are the future faces of cycling in Canada. I’m thinking of [Nick] Zukowsky, [Danick] Vandale, [Pier André] Cote, [Alec] Cowan, [Adam] Roberge, and our American signing, Stephen Bassett. These guys are going to have great seasons. I hope they (and I!) will all progress onto the World Tour level as that is the goal at Silber Pro Cycling.

Everyone on the squad is fit and motivated for the season ahead. I think this particular group of guys is coming together well after our first race together. Furthermore, I notice a lack of personal egos in this group which can certainly plague some teams. I am excited to work with these guys to accomplish our goals.

Nigel Ellsay (Silber Pro Cycling) in front  ©  Greg Descantes

Tell us about TBC – you performed well against some strong competition.
NE: Yeah, the Tuscon Bike Classic was a well-run race which we were grateful to attend. The race fit perfectly into our calendar. It served as a test event for our primary targets for the season: the UCI and Pro Road Tour events. It was great to test out our new equipment from Jamis and Vittoria.

It was my first time at the TBC. The race ended up being very fast. The highlight for me was Saturday’s 130km road race. We had new and returning guys all over the breakaway with some taking massive pulls on front of the peloton to defend yellow. Then Zukowsky, who was taking pulls along with me, two UHC riders, and an ex-BMC pro, bridged to the breakaway. I think you will see Silber riding with purpose like this in 2017, much like seasons past.

Nigel Ellsay  ©  Silber Pro Cycling

You’ve shown strength as GC rider. Did you have a specific goal headed into TBC?
NE: Thanks! To be honest, my goals at TBC were quite open. I wanted to win a stage, but came close with two, third places. I wanted our team to take the overall win, but didn’t care who it was. I’m sure the team will be back with vengeance next year. That’s how we roll at Silber.

When the final GC is decided by time bonuses against a rider like McCabe, that’s a tough scenario. Are you satisfied with your result and fitness headed into the major races?
NE: As you say, racing against a sprinter who also has an incredible fitness level is challenging. Travis has already won three pro-races this year. I am not happy, but am satisfied with my personal result, however, I am happy with how my teammates rode both days. I think we are set for another great season. On a personal level, I am happy with my fitness level, particularly after only arriving in the desert two days before the race. I believe I showed promise with how the final 30km of stage two went.

What are your ambitions for this season? There seems to be the role of a GC contender to fill. Is that what you are aiming for?
NE: I think we have a number of GC options for the season. I hope to be given the green light to race for the GC at the hiller events we do. In particular, I am targeting races like Tour of the Gila, Redlands, and Utah. I have some big shoes to fill, but I feel I am in the right spot to succeed and have the best backing from my coach Richard Wooles at Peak and Valley coaching.





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