What is the Gap?
In 1996, professional cyclists were eligible to compete in the Olympic Games, and the World Championship categories were harmonized to include professionals and amateurs together. Since this amalgamation most medals in road cycling have been won by professional athletes. In the past 10 years, road cycling in Canada has experienced growth with the notable results including: Grand Tour Wins and World Championships medals and top performances at the Olympics.
However, despite our progress, 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, professional cycling is euro-centric and young athletes at these ages face numerous life challenges in order to stay focused, committed and financially capable of reaching the sport’s top tiers.
Unlike sports such as hockey, football, or basketball, there are no well-beaten paths to the pro ranks in cycling, particularly in North America. Globally, pro cycling has a 3 tier system, similar to baseball, where riders move through the ranks as they progress. Unfortunately, in Canada there are no first or second division teams– we have three 3rd division teams. South of the border things are better as a strong contingent of US based 1st, 2nd and 3rd division teams exists. These teams 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 Did The Fund Start?
Vancouver-based professional cyclists Ryan Anderson and Will Routley along with Global Relay executive founders Warren Roy and Shannon Rogers conceived of the fund in 2012. Global Relay committed $400,000 over four years to ‘seed fund’ initiatives to support rising young cyclists in Canada until the 2016 Rio Olympics. Ryan and Will quickly recruited fellow professional riders Svein Tuft, Erinne Willock and Andrew Pinfold to conceive of and oversee Fund activities. Andrew had recently retired from professional cycling and assumed responsibilities as Managing Director.
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 provides resources to young up-and-coming cyclists as they discover their full potential.
Working in Four Key Areas
In 2012 the Fund identified athletes in need of financial support, functioned as network connectors, agents and primarily distributed valued direct-financial assistance to athletes. As the fund matured and on-boarded more benefactors and advisors our work formalized in four key areas of need for Canadian Road Cycling:
We provide direct financial support to athletes until they’re able to secure living incomes in professional trade teams
Mentoring & Team Consulting
We provide athlete mentors and trade team consultation services (to Canada’s UCI trade teams)
Youth Cycling Development
We provide grants to youth (11-17yrs) focused cycling club programs across Canada. We initiated the Canadian Youth Cycling Network. We organize BC Youth Superweek.
We identify areas of strategic need, and fund special projects – in parthernship with Cycling Canada and other cycling focused NGOs in Canada
Board of Directors & Special Advisors
Andrew Pinfold – Managing Director
Andrew is a retired professional cyclist. During his 11 year career, he rode for JetFuel, Ital Pasta, Symmetrics and UHC Pro Cycling. In 2008 Andrew won the Gastown Grand Prix. Andrew holds a Masters degree in Health Administration and is currently the Director of Operations for the BC Autism Society.
Ryan Anderson – Fund co-Founder
Ryan is currently one of Canada’s few top-tier professionals. He rides for the Direct-Energie team in France. Last year he rode races like the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the Vuelta Espana last year. He has represented Canada at 5 World championships.
Kevin is Canada’s most accomplished Sports Director. He has led teams such as: Jet Fuel, Symmetrics, Trek Livestrong, Optum-Kelly, Spidertech and the Canadian National Team. As a DS he’s mentored most of the fund directors during their pro careers. He’s co-founder of The Feed.
Svein is Canada’s most accomplished active pro cyclist. He currently rides for World Tour team – Orica Bike Exchange. He’s won four medals at the UCI Road World Championships medals and been Canada’s best male finisher at the Olympic Games (Beijing 2008) since Steve Bauer won silver in 1984. He is a 9 time Canadian TT Champion and 2 time Canadian Road Champion. He’s won stages at the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia — where he wore the Maglia Rosa as race leader.
Erinne is a retired professional cyclist. For a decade she was one of Canada’s top female competitors. She represented Canada at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and her 7th place finish at the 2009 UCI Road World Championships is Canada’s best performance in the road race in the last 20yrs. She retired from professional cycling in 2011 to become a happy mom, and mentor Canada’s next great cyclists.
Will Routley – Fund co-Founder & Director Emeritus
Will founded the Fund with Ryan in 2012, stepping down at the end of 2016 when he retired from pro cycling. During his career he won the Canadian Road Championships, raced 3 seasons in Europe at the top-tier, and won a stage at the Tour of California. In 2016 he started Healthy Hooch Kambucha and runs a hobby farm in Langley, BC with his wife Shani.
Brian Storey – PHD
Brian is CEO of Physical Health and Education Canada – a not for profit that provides national leadership in to school boards across the country in areas of Physical Literacy, health and active living for kids. Brian consults with BTG on strategy and leads the Funds Youth initiatives with Andrew.
The fund is supported primarily through the generous support of Global Relay. In the fall of 2016 Global Relay renewed core funding for another four year term – learn more
Alongside Global Relay the fund is supported by the generosity of many. We encourage anyone to Donate to GRBTG throug the BC Chapter of the National Sport Trust Fund.