Cyclists put skills to test in Merckx Youth event

After going through a week-long cycling school with the Future Champions Camp, that knowledge will be tested.

FUTURE CHAMPIONS CAMP attracted 30 riders

FUTURE CHAMPIONS CAMP attracted 30 riders

After going through a week-long cycling school with the Future Champions Camp, that knowledge will be tested.

Thirty cyclists took part in the camp, but 90 aged 11 to 18 will participate in the Axel Merckx Youth Foundation Cycling Event.

The camp got rolling Monday and finished Friday, while the Axel Merckx Youth Foundation Cycling Event starts Friday and finishes Sunday.

The event is aimed at introducing youngsters to the sport of road racing, in a safe and fun environment. Merckx is committed to helping Canadian kids discover cycling. This weekend is the final stop of the Axel Merckx Foundation Youth Development Series.

Among the cyclists are Henri Deboever and Sam Morris.

Deboever, 18, is attending the Future Champions Camp for the second time. With professional riders speaking to them during the camp, the Victoria resident is taking advantage of the chance to network and learn. Deboever also looked to hone his riding skills leading into the weekend.

“The race is to utilize what we learned over the week,” said Deboever, who hopes to eventually become a professional. “Sprinting skills, attacking, time trial. Be able to put that to use.”

Morris, 16, is utilizing the camp and races as a build up for next year.

“This is my first real year of intense racing,” said the Vancouver resident. “I’m really learning a lot.”

Cyclists will experience classic bike race competitions including an individual time trial, criterium (small circuit) race and a hilly road competition. Riders learned from experts and met Merckx during scheduled seminars and lectures. They also had the chance to meet Canadian Olympian cyclist, Jasmin Glaesser, who helped the women’s team win bronze.

Glaesser, 20, attended the camp in Penticton two years ago as she was learning the ropes.

“I’ve obviously progressed a little bit,” said Glaesser, who became a Canadian citizen in 2011, though has lived in Canada since she was nine according to a CTV report. “It’s great to come back now and to be able to pass on some of the learning, some of the experiences I’ve had. It’s great to see in just these two years how much has changed. I was the only girl back then. And now we’ve got nine girls here. It’s great to be able to help develop the sport a bit.”

Glaesser said when she had the opportunity to listen to pro riders and how they succeeded it opened her eyes. Being at the London Olympics was something completely different, she said.

“The Olympics is definitely the only place where it’s really reaching out to everyone,” she said. “We definitely felt like we had the whole country behind us. Cheering us on. That just made the whole experience so special.”

Before defeating Australia for bronze in women’s team pursuit, twice Canada posted slower times against them. However, Glaesser said, she, along with Tara Whitten and Gillian Carleton didn’t lose hope entering their bronze medal showdown.

“We knew that we still had the potential to go faster or to have a more successful ride,” she said. “We definitely knew it was possible to beat them. Just leave it all out there. Let’s not have any regrets.”

She said they felt shock from winning but they knew the whole race was close.

“The crowd was cheering really loud. They were obviously excited,” said Glaesser. “This was it, it was going to come down to these two laps. I didn’t know for sure until I had looked up after the race and saw the scoreboard.”

Ron Hayman, of the Hayman Classic said with this weekend’s event, that local kids are eligible, even if they have no racing experience. The only requirement is having a good attitude and an interest in the sport.

All riders should have a road bike, helmet and cycling appropriate clothing.  Riders will be placed in their appropriate age categories, though coaches may move riders up or down a category, depending on experience and performance at the first event.

Participants can learn more and register on line at http://reg.ccnbikes.com/index.php/event/axel-merckx-youth-cycling-series.

Also, for details on the races visit www.haymanclassic.com.