Hugo Houle, one of the very few Canadians in the World Tour, is unimpressed with Cycling Canada, the governing body of the sport in the Old Country. He has a laundry list of complaints, but the one that pushed him into action was the fact that out of 47 Canadian cycling athletes chosen to focus on for the 2024 Paris Olympics, there are ZERO road cyclists. All the money will be spent on track, mountain, BMX and paracycling.
Houle doesn’t hold back his disdain for Cycling Canada in this article in French, where he outlines the amateurish manner in which they were treated at this year’s Worlds in Imola, Italy. He says that the athletes actually had to pay for their own kit if they wanted something that didn’t make them ‘look like clowns’…’the sleeves kept riding up’, he said. In the end, his self-funded custom-made Louis Garneau kit didn’t arrive in time and he was forced to wear what the Federation supplied. According to Houle, his father doesn’t even wear something that bad for the gran fondos he does on the weekends.
To add insult to injury, most of the management and equipment the team used in the Worlds this year was supplied by Sylvan Adams, the Israeli-Canadian owner of Israel Start-up Nation (and guy who brought the Giro to Israel a couple of years ago), presumably on his own dime. According to Houle, without Adams’ support, Canada wouldn’t have had a team at the Worlds for the last 3 years.
He has more gripes with the federation, whom he feels has abandoned road cycling, ironically the sport that probably most Canadians take part in on two wheels. Cycling Canada has responded to his complaints, but you’ll have to either find that online or read it in French in the article linked to above.
I realize that Canada is not a big cycling nation and that Cycling Canada has limited resources and many disciplines to support. But I also know that we have a history, however short, and it’s not too undistinguished for a country with looooong, cooooold winters.
We have Alex Stieda, for example, who was the first North American to wear the Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France (1986).
Then of course there’s Steve Bauer, the reason many a Canuck of my vintage took up cycling. He has a serious palmarès, including:
Silver medal in the 1984 Olympics Road Race; same in the Worlds that year; 2 stages of the Tour de France, including 4th overall in 1988; plenty of results in Classics races, including 2nd in Paris-Roubaix and 4th in the Tour of Flanders.
And then there’s Ryder Hesjedal, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2012 to everyone’s surprise, and is probably the last Canadian cyclist who non-fans in Canada know.
Finally, Mike Woods – bronze medal winner in the Worlds two years ago and who seems to always be there or thereabouts in many Classics races. He’s won two stages of the Vuelta, Milano-Torino, 2nd place in L-B-L and lots of top fives in important Classics races.
It’s not nothing, Cycling Canada. I hope you can find the money and motivation to support road cycling more in the future. This France-bound MAMIL needs a few homeboys (and girls) to cheer for from time to time.