With the last rider arriving on Thursday in Belgium, the U23 Canadian team is now complete for the spring portion of the 2013 international cycling program. Over the next 10 days, the riders will participate in two UCI Nations Cups (Tour of Flanders) on Saturday, and the Côte Picarde on Wednesday (April 10) as well as the prestigious U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 13.
The Canadian U23 program is on a good line of success dating back to Guillaume Boivin’s third place at the 2010 UCI Road World Championships in Australia. This performance seemed to have given much confidence to the rest of the group, who followed with a second place at the 2011 Tour de l’Avenir with David Boily’s incredible performance and with the fourth place finish of Hugo Houle last September on top of the Cauberg climb at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships.
This year, the hopes will again be high for the group led by Antoine Duchesne (Québec City), Ryan Aitcheson (Kitchener) and Pierrick Naud (Amos, QC). For this initial project, these riders will be accompanied by Adam DeVos (Victoria, B.C.), Jordan Brochu (Amos) while the three first-year riders, Ben Perry (St. Catharines), Chris Prendergast (Winnipeg) and Nigel Ellsay (Courtenay, B.C.) will share the load by each taking part in one of the three events.
These riders have had a good start to the season with Naud winning the recent Amay Kermesse and Duchesne taking a good fourth place in Hannut the next day. He was also a good teammate at the Volta ao Alentejo with his Brontrager Cycling Team, where they took the overall classification. To support that, Perry, Prendergast and Ellsay all decided to race on European soil this season to help their long-term development.
“I am very happy with the selection and especially with the commitment of our riders towards our program,” said national development coach Luc Arseneau.
“Of course, the bigger objectives will come later on in the season and this is why we will also be using the Tour of Ireland to get as many riders as possible ready for a good 2013 season. Of course, even if we talk about 2013 at the moment, the overall objective is always long term for these young riders.”
Later this season, the Canadian U23 program will include major races, such as the An Post Ras (Ireland) in May, the Tour du Saguenay (Nation Cup) and the Tour de Beauce in June. This year will also be a special for the cyclists as the Canada Games will be taking place in Sherbrooke, QC in August and Canada will also be sending a team to the Jeux de la Francophonie in Nice, France in September.
The season will end with the 2013 UCI Road World Championships in Florence, Italy, and Canada hopes to be able to use races on Canadian soil such as the Tour of Alberta and both World Tour races in Québec and Montréal to showcase its talent to Canadian cycling fans.