Friday, May 13, 2016

Oh Canada? Two Years Later

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article discussing four Canadian hopefuls that were looking to make it big in professional cycling. I opened that article by saying that "Canada is past their best days for the time being on the U23 front" but that a few guys were keen to step up. Those best days were right around the corner as 2015 was an explosive year for Canada on the development front. While they might not have young rider that is ready to take on the GC of big professional races, they are certainly brining more to the table than they did a decade ago.

From that original article, the four riders I highlighted were Ben Perry, Nigel Ellsay, Alex Cataford and Hendrik Pineda. Pineda, who was Canadian junior champion in 2013, has all but disappeared from cycling but the other three have to migrated to Silber Pro Cycling, the Canadian team headed up by Canadian sprint master Gord Fraser & Scott McFarlane and features a roster with only one rider born in the 80s, Ryan Roth. Silber has been attacking the early season American calendar with some big successes in the early half of this season.

In the season's infancy, Ryan Roth won the Valley of the Sun stage race while Cataford, who was drinking through a straw two years ago after shattering his jaw, won the time trial in the Tucson Bicycle Classic. Just over a month later, Ottawa native Matteo Dal-Cin blossomed and won the overall at Redlands after riding consistently throughout the race and taking bonuses & splitting the leading group when needed. Then it was Ellsay who was in the leader's position by going 2nd overall in Joe Martin after a blistering start at the uphill Devil's Den TT with Perry, who won a stage of Beauce last year, being his right hand and also finishing 10th overall. Cataford just sealed their early season with taking a huge 2nd place overall in the Tour of the Gila by riding at his limit in the mountains and then taking time back in the time trial, his broken jaw and recovery finally being able to take a back seat. Through in Kris Dahl for the sprints and you have yourself a pretty damn rounded team.

There is more to this than just Silber though (even if they did get an invite to the Tour of Utah at the time of writing). While Fraser and his crew having been ripping it up, let's broaden the focus a little bit.

Adam De Vos is out of the U23 ranks now but has taken a step up with Rally Cycling, which has been getting some fat invites in Europe and races all of the biggest American races. De Vos was a top 10 finisher in the difficult Richmond Worlds U23 RR to go along with a top 10 in the Tour of the Gila and Pan-Am Games. This year, he started out a bit slower but came around again to support team leader Rob Britton in Gila with Britton finishing 3rd overall and De Vos top 20 overall. De Vos is down for Tour of California with Rally, most likely in a support role. Read more about De Vos from last year on Espoirs Central

Sean Mackinnon & Adam Jamieson were the U23 half of the Canadian team pursuit team that has been getting more attention after lying dormant for many years. Mackinnon was top 20 in the U23 TT in the Richmond Worlds after going out very early in the day and missing out on some of the bad weather later on. This duo was apart of the team that clocked a 4:05 at Worlds, which isn't rivaling the British and Australians but it is fucking quick.  Riding for Team RaceClean, which is an arm of the Canadian National Team, the duo went 1& 2 in the Fleche du Sud youth classification with Mackinnion finishing 10th overall, which was on the same time as the rider in 6th place.

Alexander Cowan, also on RaceClean, nabbed 6th overall in the sprint at the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt U23

De Vos' former team H&R Block now have Jack Burke, who is in his first year on a bigger race schedule and doing fairly well with some good GC results with 6th in San Dimas, 13th in Redlands and 21st in Tour of the Gila, which was 4th in the youth classification. Burke's name might be recognized by some after he had a positive test as a junior in the Tour de l'Abitibi while in the running for the overall win. It turned out to be a tainted supplement, with his father and lawyer arguing that the trace amounts came from the water in Malartic, which has a working gold mine. The full story can be seen here.

For a country that had a dearth of riders touching the European pro ranks a decade ago, we are in the midst of a bloom with developing Canadian riders. Who knows, maybe another two years from now, we would be looking at a few of these guys moving up to join Svein Tuft, Antoine Duchesne, Ryan Anderson, Hugo Houle and Mike Woods in the European professional ranks.

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