Canadians of the Peloton 2016
Canadians of the Professional Peloton 2016
With the 2016 season about the kick off with the Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis, its time to take a look at the Canadians who will be flying the flag at the highest levels of the sport.
Since last season, there have been a number of big moves for Canadian cyclists with none bigger than Michael “Rusty” Wood’s move up to the World Tour with Cannondale Pro Cycling. Some impressive results, most notably at the Volta ao Algarve, with Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies caught the eye of Jonathan Vaughters.
The signing of Woods was fascilitated by the departure of a number of experienced riders from Cannondale including 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal who joins Trek-Segafredo for 2016. The 35 year old will have another shot at the Giro with Trek-Segafredo before possibly riding in support of Bauke Mollema at the Tour de France.
Hugo Houle stays at AG2R La Mondiale for 2016. Houle will be looking to repeat at national time trial champion and build on his 25th place finish in the ITT at the Richmond World’s. At 25 years of age, Houle is still developing and working to reach the promise shown in 2012 when he finished 4th in the World Championships U23 road race.
Christian Meier and Svien Tuft remain with the Australian Orica GreenEDGE squad for another season and round out the Canadian contingency at the World Tour level. For 2016, Canada will have 5 riders in the World Tour compared to 4 in 2015 thanks to Rusty Wood’s promotion.
For the women, Lex Albrecht and Leah Kirchmann move from Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies to Bepink and Liv-Planteur respectively. Based on preseason rankings, Albrecht and Kirchmann will have an opportunity to ride in all the races of the newly formed UCI Women’s WorldTour, with automatic invites given to the top 15 teams for one day races and 20 teams for stage races.
Other Canadians racing at the top of the women’s peloton include Karol-Ann Canuel (Boels-Dolmans), Joelle Numainville and Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Cervelo-Bigla), Laura Brown and Cari Higgins (UnitedHealthcare), and Alizee Brien (Team TIBCO-SVB).
Smaller teams, like Rally Cycling (formerly Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), will have to rely on invites WorldTour events in order to race against the best. Rally Cycling has a strong Canadian contingency, as always, with Jasmine Glaesser, Khristi Lay, Katherine Maine, and Sara Poidevin.
Continental and ProContinental
Canada will once again have strong representation at the Continental and ProContinental levels.
Antoine Duchesne remains at Direct Energie (formerly Europcar) and is joined by Ryan Anderson from Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies making two Canadians on a team of Frenchmen. Direct Energie will have a chance to gain wild card invites to WorldTour events such as the Tour de France in 2016. Duchesne and Anderson are the only Canadians racing at the ProContinental level.
Rally Cycling continue their commitment to developing Canadian and American talent by adding Rob Britton, Adam de Vos, Pierrick Naud to the team for 2016. They join Will Routley who returns for another season. Woods (Cannondale), Anderson (Direct Energie), and national champion Guillaume Boivin all raced for the team last season but have since moved on.
As mentioned above, national road race champion Guillaume Boivin has moved to the Israeli Cycling Academy Team for 2016. Cycling Academy is best known for its relationship with World Champion Peter Sagan and has made some big signings for 2016.
Canada is well represented at the Continental level with only a few of the bigger names listed here. For the 2016 season, there are three Continental teams registered in Canada, H&R Block, Garneau Quebecor, and Silber, plus more riders racing for teams registered in other countries.
2016 is looking like it will be an exciting year for Canadian cyclists particularly for our women. With the birth of the Women’s WorldTour and some big transfers, Canadian cycling fans can look forward to see our top women in the biggest events racing against the best in the world. The men also have a chance to impress in 2016, especially at the Continental level, and maybe get a shot at the WorldTour like Michael Woods.