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 work?

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:

Athlete Funding

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).  Our mentoring program is led by BTG alumni Leah Kirchmann

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.

Special Projects

We identify areas of strategic need, and fund special projects – in parthernship with Cycling Canada and other cycling focused NGOs in Canada.