What is the Gap?
Since 1996, professional riders have competed at the Olympic Games and most medals in road cycling have been won by athletes that have raced on professional trade teams. In the past 10 years, road cycling in Canada has experienced spectacular growth with the notable results including: Olympic Medals, Grand Tour Wins and World Championships medals.
However, despite these gains there is an obstacle to success that continues to persist. There is a gap that exists in the development of Canadian cyclists that are between the ages of 19 to 25. This is a critical point in their career for a number of reasons. First, it is a time when many have left home and are faced with earning a living. This can present a difficult dilemma for the athlete as training time (upwards of 30 hours per week) combined with days away racing leaves little time for employment and/or studies. Faced with this issue, it is not uncommon for a rider trying to make it to the pro ranks to finance their living expenses on a credit card, shirk critical off-season training hours to work, or worse, quit the sport entirely. Second, because of a lack of financial resources, many young riders can’t access optimal coaching, physiological assessments, and equipment.
Finally, unlike sports such as hockey, football, or basketball, there is no well-beaten path to the pro ranks in cycling, particularly in North America. Globally, pro cycling has a fledgling 3 tier system, similar to baseball’s 3 levels where riders move through the ranks as they progress. Unfortunately, in Canada there are no first division teams, only one 2nd division pro team (in which roughly half are Canadian riders) and no 3rd, entry level division squads. South of the border things are better as a strong contingent of US based 3rd division teams exists. These have been integral in developing Canadian riders, however, in order to get picked by these teams it requires strong results and networking with US managers and coaches.
How Does the Fund “Bridge the Gap”?
Much like the sport of cycling, the Fund operates on a team-based mentality. Riders in the fund are selected in the same fashion as trade teams select riders. A subjective mix of factors (talent, need, attitude etc.) is considered by a group of people who know what it takes to turn pro in this sport. The riders are then part of the Fund’s “team” with all efforts committed to elevating them to the professional level. Backed by the support of Global Relay, Bridge the Gap will provide the necessary coaching, resources, and equipment to young up-and-coming cyclists as they explore their full potential.