Global Re­lay Bridge the Gap Fund

Mak­ing a Pos­i­tive Dif­fer­ence for Cycling in Canada

Pedal Magazine - - Out In Front - BY SAN­DRA WAL­TER

In 2012, the Global Re­lay Bridge the Gap Fund was launched with the aim of helping Cana­dian am­a­teur Elite road rac­ers make the leap to the Professional ranks through fi­nan­cial sup­port and men­tor­ship. Over the past four years, the fund has aided 23 ath­letes in find­ing spots on Pro teams, three of whom were named to the Cana­dian Olympic team for Rio 2016. More re­cently, the fo­cus of the Global Re­lay Bridge the Gap Fund has broad­ened to in­clude youth-cycling ini­tia­tives.

“The fu­ture of the project looks re­ally good,” said Andrew Pin­fold, former Pro cy­clist and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the fund. “Global Re­lay has just stepped in and re­newed us for an­other four years, which is fan­tas­tic.”

Global Re­lay is a Van­cou­ver, B.C.-based tech­nol­ogy ser­vices com­pany with cus­tomers world­wide, boast­ing ad­di­tional lo­ca­tions in Hal­i­fax, New York City, Chicago, Raleigh, Lon­don and Sin­ga­pore.

The com­pany's in­volve­ment in Cana­dian cycling is a story of be­ing in the right place at the right time.

In 2012, two of Global Re­lay's founders, War­ren Roy and Shan­non Rogers, struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with a cou­ple of rid­ers af­ter the Gas­town Grand Prix – a high-pro­file Cri­terium held in the same Van­cou­ver neigh­bour­hood as the com­pany's head­quar­ters. The rid­ers turned out to be none other than top Cana­dian Pros Will Rout­ley and Ryan An­der­son, who made such a good im­pres­sion that the Global Re­lay big­wigs ex­pressed an in­ter­est in sup­port­ing the sport.

Rout­ley and An­der­son, who are now mem­bers of the Global Re­lay Bridge the Gap Fund board, sat down a while later over cof­fee with Pin­fold and dis­cussed their chat with Roy and Rogers. They sin­gled out the lack of op­por­tu­ni­ties for Elite am­a­teur cy­clists in Canada who were try­ing to make the next step to the Pro ranks – some­thing they had ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand in their ath­letic de­vel­op­ment.

“We de­cided we should pitch a fund that helps rid­ers get onto Professional teams . . . [that sup­ports] them through the lean days when they're not earn­ing in­come, [when] they might not be carded and they need to make the jump . . . `bridge' fund­ing,” ex­plained Pin­fold.

In a meet­ing in the fall of 2012 with the lead­er­ship team at Global Re­lay, they pitched their idea and the com­pany agreed to sup­port the project for four years.From that for­tu­itous en­counter, Global Re­lay has quickly emerged as a cham­pion of cycling in Canada, be­com­ing a ti­tle spon­sor of Cycling Canada's Na­tional teams and cham­pi­onship events in 2014 as part of a four-year $500,000 deal.

“I think we've made some sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to cycling in Canada; I think we've ad­vanced the sport a great deal,” said Pin­fold of the Global Re­lay Bridge the Gap Fund's im­pact.

The fund's list of achieve­ments in­cludes Adam de Vos's top-10 re­sult at the 2015 U23 World Cham­pi­onships, Leah Kirch­mann's third­place fin­ish at La Course at the Tour de France in 2015 and Canada field­ing its largest U23 men's squad at a World Cham­pi­onship – also in 2015 – due di­rectly to sup­port through the Global Re­lay Bridge the Gap pro­gram. De Vos and Kirch­mann have since both signed with Pro teams – Rally Pro Cycling and Liv-Plan­tur re­spec­tively.

Since Pin­fold's re­tire­ment from Professional racing in 2011, he has re­mained pas­sion­ately in­volved in the sport, tak­ing on the po­si­tion of head coach and pro­gram di­rec­tor for the DEVO youth-racing pro­gram in Van­cou­ver. It's no sur­prise that his roles with Global Re­lay Bridge the Gap and DEVO should over­lap, as he be­came more aware of the im­por­tance of a strong youth-cycling com­mu­nity in or­der to im­prove as a na­tion in the higher ranks.

Global Re­lay youth ini­tia­tives helped cre­ate BC Youth Su­per­week, one of the high­est pro­file se­ries of youth races in North Amer­ica, where rac­ers com­pete on the same cour­ses as Pros, re­ceive me­dia at­ten­tion and per­form in front of big crowds at such events as the Gas­town Grand Prix. “It's just un­heard of any­where else in North Amer­ica to have Un­der-15 and Un­der-17 kids racing at those events,” said Pin­fold.

With the Global Re­lay Youth Club Seed­ing Pro­gram and the Youth Club Cycling Net­work Ini­tia­tive, Pin­fold said, “What we wanted to do is try to grow the pool of rid­ers who are get­ting ex­posed to com­pet­i­tive cycling when they're in their youth, and along with that, lift­ing the level of coach­ing and or­ga­ni­za­tion as well.”

The Youth Club Cycling Net­work is a fo­rum for youth-cycling lead­ers across the coun­try to share knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion, while the Youth Club Seed­ing Pro­gram of­fers di­rect sup­port to se­lected clubs.

“I think for Canada to be truly a world-class cycling na­tion, which is I think every­body's goal in the coun­try – cer­tainly the stated goal of Cycling Canada – we re­ally need world-class youth pro­grams and par­tic­i­pa­tion num­bers.”

The sup­port of a cor­po­ra­tion such as Global Re­lay in just four years has al­ready greatly im­pacted cycling in Canada in a pos­i­tive way, not only in terms of re­sults, but also the land­scape of the sport. With an­other four years of fund­ing, the po­ten­tial fur­ther im­pact is

(above) His­toric La Course by Le Tour 2015 in­au­gu­ral podium (l-r): Leah Kirch­mann 3rd, Mar­i­anne

Vos 1st, Kirsten Wild 2nd

(left) Canada’s Adam de Vos took home a stel­lar 9th in the U23 Men's race at the 2015 Road

Worlds in Rich­mond, Va.

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