Pirelli Global Launch of PZero Velo Tires

Small North­ern Town Ex­cels in Cy­cling

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Ben An­drew

At the 2014 UCI Road Worlds, Canada’s Karol-Ann Canuel (now with Boels-Dol­mans) shared the women’s team time trial vic­tory, be­com­ing Canada’s first-ever world cham­pion road cy­clist. This re­mark­able rider was later part of the win­ning squad in 2015 and 2016, giv­ing her three gold medals.

She be­gan her cy­cling ca­reer rid­ing with the Club Cy­cliste d’Amos based 600km north of Montreal. Mar­cAn­toine Soucy (Sil­ber Pro), who fin­ished sec­ond in the road race at the 2017 Cana­dian na­tion­als, is another club alumni, as is his brother, Jean-François Soucy (Garneau-Que­becor). Pier­rick Naud (Rally Cy­cling) also hails from Amos as does Keven La­combe (for­merly Spi­derTech), along with U23 rid­ers Felix Boutin and newly crowned ju­nior men’s road race champ, CharlesÉ­ti­enne Chre­tien. This is quite a crop of tal­ented rid­ers for one small cy­cling club!

Most sur­pris­ingly, the town of Amos only boasts a pop­u­la­tion of 12,000, and is about six hours north of the near­est big ur­ban cen­tre where cy­cling tends to be pop­u­lar in Canada. Sum­mers are also short here.

“The Club Cy­cliste d’Amos was founded in 1966,” notes pres­i­dent Chris­tine Me­u­nier. “We cur­rently have some 40 mem­bers from age eight to 16. Our mis­sion is to de­velop youths into adults who are in­volved in their com­mu­nity.” Me­u­nier is the step­mother of Jean-Sa­muel De­shaies, a lesser-known cy­clist from Amos who none­the­less won the 2009 Cana­dian na­tional cri­terium cham­pi­onship.

Not only is road cy­cling pop­u­lar in Amos, but moun­tain bik­ing is also big with its own club; the two clubs co-ex­ist fairly well. Hockey is another big sport in Amos.

“In the youngest age cat­e­gories, we see es­sen­tially par­ity be­tween boys and girls,” says Me­u­nier. “But it is hard to keep our girls once they be­come cadets.”

Me­u­nier re­counts how a “sports-étude” cy­cling pro­gram was set up with the lo­cal high school around 2005. Some 22 stu­dents from grades six through 11 are cur­rently en­rolled, prac­tis­ing their sport be­tween six and eight pe­ri­ods ev­ery nine days. A big chal­lenge for stu­dents is the long travel time – of­ten14 hours re­turn – to get to most races, which are of­ten sched­uled be­fore the end of the school year in late June. The lo­cal school tries to be flex­i­ble, how­ever.

CCA hired a head coach, David Bernard, who has a de­gree in phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, to su­per­vise the sports-étude pro­gram. In the sum­mer they hire a sec­ond coach and the town of Amos hires a third.

The cold cli­mate and lo­cal ter­rain of­fer ad­di­tional chal­lenges, and Me­u­nier re­mem­bers years when road cy­cling was not pos­si­ble be­fore the month of May, giv­ing lit­tle lead time be­fore the provin­cial race cal­en­dar that starts in mid-May.

“The Abitibi re­gion is known for its flat

ter­rain with few hills for train­ing. So for hill-climb­ing prac­tice, we tend to go up and down the same hills many times,” quips Me­u­nier. None­the­less, Amos has a well earned rep­u­ta­tion as a cy­cling town.

“We’ve al­ways had at least a few pas­sion­ate rid­ers lo­cally,” she con­tin­ued, “even when cy­cling was less pop­u­lar. Many peo­ple of all ages prac­tise the sport at dif­fer­ent lev­els. For­mer cy­clists are al­ways present to sup­port the younger ones, rid­ing with them many times each year. Re­cently, Keven La­combe helped us to open a high­per­for­mance train­ing cen­tre with equip­ment that you would find in big­ger cen­tres.”

Com­mu­nity sup­port for cy­cling is strong from lo­cal busi­nesses. Me­u­nier also men­tions the ju­nior IAMGOLD team (the ti­tle spon­sor is a gold min­ing com­pany), which is well-in­te­grated into the club. She also men­tions time tri­als spon­sored by the lo­cal credit union, and sup­port from the school com­mis­sion and from a lo­cal Hyundai deal­er­ship. Lo­cal news­pa­pers are also good at cov­er­ing cy­cling events.

Another fac­tor in the club’s favour is the renowned UCI Tour de l’Abitibi ju­nior men’s race, now in its 49th year, at­tract­ing many in­ter­na­tional rid­ers. “Be­ing able to race at the Tour is the ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive of many of our rid­ers,” says Me­u­nier. “The race al­ter­nates from year to year be­tween dif­fer­ent towns, be­ing held this year in Amos; it al­ways draws many spec­ta­tors and few lo­cals com­plain about blocked roads.”

Asked how other small towns can repli­cate the cy­cling suc­cess story of Amos, Me­u­nier says “it is im­por­tant to de­velop a cy­cling cul­ture in the com­mu­nity with older cy­clists help­ing younger ones. And you have to talk up suc­cess sto­ries.”

Pedal first reached Me­u­nier on the side­lines of the Cana­dian na­tion­als in Ot­tawa, al­most six hours from Amos. Nat­u­rally, she was there sup­port­ing lo­cal rid­ers.

Just the Facts

Club cy­cliste d’Amos 819-727-6480 Chris­tine.me­u­nier@out­look.com www.club­cy­clis­teamos.com

Club Cy­cliste d’Amos has pro­duced quite a crop of tal­ented rid­ers for one small cy­cling club.

Com­mu­nity sup­port is strong

The UCI Tour de l’Abitibi, a sports-étude cy­cling pro­gram, and sup­port from for­mer stars help fuel the Amos suc­cess story.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.