Cycling Canada put on a great event at the Crosswinds Golf and Country Club in Burlington, as the Federation hosted the second annual Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The 2016 inductees included our own Gord Fraser, alongside Louise Lalonde, Marie-Hélène Prémont, Alex Stieda, Brian Walton and Canada’s 1908 Men’s Team Pursuit squad.
For those of you who are unaware of Gord’s achievements on the bike, the good folks at Canadian Cyclist drew from the Cycling Canada press release to summarize his achievements as follows:
“Gord Fraser was a three-time Olympian and five-time Commonwealth Games competitor who logged over two hundred individual race or stage victories in his career. He is considered the most successful professional sprinter in North America. In addition to his three wins in the Tour de Langkawi (2000, 2001 & 2004) he also had wins in the GP du Midi Libre, Criterium International, and GP Rennes. Other highlights included winning two NRC season points’ titles, a Canadian National Championship and a memorable silver medal in the199 Pan Am Games on home soil where Brian Walton won the gold. His top Olympic result was 16th in Sydney. Since his retirement from competition, Gord has remained involved in the sport as a Director Sportif. He is the DS of the highly successful Canadian team, Silber Pro Cycling.”
I was privileged to sit beside Louise Lalonde and at a table with Gord and his mother and sister. What struck me most about the entire ceremony was that every inductee gave wonderful acceptance speeches. They were all funny, heartfelt, gracious and thankful to others. For his part, Gord explained the influence that each of his fellow inductees had on his development and career. His was strikingly precise and detailed as he recounted, for example, how Alex Stieda helped him understand the techniques and value of racing economically; or how Louise Lalonde represented to him a more subtle kind of leadership with her ability to govern a race with authority while not affecting its outcome. Our riders, management and partners benefit so much from this kind of expansive, gracious and precise vision that is capable of producing winners. On behalf of all of us at Silber Pro Cycling, congratulations on your induction to the Hall of Fame Gord!
And kudos to Cycling Canada for establishing the Hall of Fame because it gives a material presence to Canadian cycling history, making it more accessible to fans and younger generations. It feels like a cycling history is being built with its eyes on the future, and that’s inspiring. It’s great to see partners like Lexus joining Cycling Canada’s efforts to build the sport broadly and dynamically, as their vehicles and staff were out in force for the Hall of Fame weekend events.
The establishment of the Hall of Fame last year, and all these new partnerships with Cycling Canada are signs that something is happening with regards to Canadian road racing. Programs and significant races–often directed by past Olympians and pros–are emerging alongside or are affiliated with existing club teams, and they are just starting to pay dividends. In BC there are the development programs initiated by TAG Cycling and iRide. Alberta is home to the Tour of Alberta, and the multi-sport program at Edmonton’s Juventus cycling club has produced a world champion on the track (!). The Manitoba Cycling Association‘s devo program and Jayson Gillespie have helped produce riders such as Leah Kirchmann, Chris Pendergast and Danick Vandale. There’s so much going on in Ontario it’s hard to keep up. NCCH continues to produce top Canadian talent, but now programs such as Centurion Next Wave have joined the party put on by club teams such as Ride with Rendall who have for years developed excellent racers. And there’s the re-branding of what is now called the “Steve Bauer Classic.” At the centre of it all is the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, housed in the Milton Velodrome. It’s incredible to see the number of young people using the facility. In Quebec, the FQSC‘s development program and excellent race calendar continue to produce pros and national champions. Significantly, the team initiated by the Montreal-based coaching facility, Toguri Training Systems, has become Silber Pro Cycling–and we’re doing what we can to add visibility to the sport. I feel like we are part of a new momentum, a sense of renewed growth and that we are on the cusp of the emergence of a new generation of world class athletes.
It would be easy to say that this year’s inductees helped “pave the way” for a new generation of cyclists, but the fact is they are all actively working with younger riders in various ways that have immediate impact. They are coaching, directing, organizing races, contributing to development programs and helping men and women establish themselves as commissaires. For Silber Pro Cycling, it’s Gord Fraser that is the active hinge between past and future riders, staff and fans. His presence means a lot… to a lot of us.