Top Professional Cyclists Commit to BC Superweek

Two of Canada’s Top Professional Cyclists Commit to BC Superweek ~ Svein Tuft and Christian Meier return from Europe and Giro d’Italia

Svein Tuft wins the 2010 Tour de White Rock Road Race (Photo by Greg Descantes)

As Pro Tour riders, Svein Tuft and Christian Meier compete at the highest levels of professional cycling in Europe.

They are coming off an impressive Giro d’Italia, and a 1-2 finish at the Canadian Time Trial Championships.  And they are both genuinely excited to be home to race BC Superweek from July 6 through 15.

The local events that helped both get started on impressive careers in the saddle still hold a special place for two of Canada’s top professional cyclists.

Svein and Christian

Christian Meier and Svein Tuft of Orica-GreenEDGE lead the peleton at the 2012 Canadian Road Nationals. (Photo by Jan Safka of courtesy

Quite honestly it’s some of the best and most enjoyable racing around – always good courses, good crowds, and the riders are really highly motivated,” said Tuft, an eight-time Canadian Time Trial champion who got his big break riding for the old Symmetrics team based out of his hometown of Langley

Tuft, 35, returns to BC Superweek for the second time since 2008 having just won his latest Canadian Time Trial Championship in Quebec, and coming off an impressive showing at the Giro d’Italia. In addition to Tuft finishing ninth on a final-day time trial that saw former teammate Ryder Hesjedal become Canada’s first Grand Tour winner, he and Meier helped their new Australian-based team, Orica-GreenEDGE, post it’s first Grand Tour stage win, helping lead sprinter Matt Goss to the finish line to victory on the third day in Italy.

We really look forward to BC Superweek because our cycling roots are here, our best memories have always been this type of racing, and it’s a chance to race in your hometown in front of friends and family,” Tuft said. “We don’t get that opportunity much in Europe, so it’s a real treat to come back and race.”

Meier, a former Canadian National Road Race champion, was also part of the win at his first Giro d’Italia, and is excited about being home.

In addition to the staple weekend races ¬– BC Superweek starts with the three-race Tour de Delta from July 6 to 8 and wraps up with three more races at the historic Tour de White Rock from July 13 to 15 ¬– the UBC Grand Prix returns for a second year on July 10, the Giro di Burnaby is also back for a second season July 12 after a brief hiatus, and the Gastown Grand Prix is back on July 11.

With $105,000 up for grabs over nine races, and Gastown back for the first time since 2008 with a history that includes crowds of 30,000 and winners like Lance Armstrong, Alex Stieda and Brian Walton, Meier expects a great field.

BC Superweek has always has some of the best atmosphere around,” Meier said. “And for me personally Gastown is still one of the most electrifying ambiances of all the races I have ever done. Where else do you get to race with 30,000 to 40,000 people – it’s just spectacular. I’ve talked to a few former teammates, and it’s really caught the attention of a lot of people. They’re trying to make a big push to come for BC Superweek.”

Competing against riders from North America’s top teams is a great chance for local cyclists to test their mettle against seasoned pros. Tuft experienced it first hand, and is proud to be a part of the ongoing cycle for younger riders.

Some of the hardest lessons I learned was racing against [Canadian Olympic medal winner] Brian Walton, [three-time Canadian Olympian] Eric Wohlberg and [three-time New Zealand Olympian] Graeme Miller at BC Superweek,” Tuft said. “I remember being in a breakaway with Brian Walton in White Rock, completely new to the sport, and this guy was just tearing the legs off us. And then I remember the Delta Road Race one year, being in a break with Wohlberg and Miller, and those guys were just one-two on me and taught me a real lesson. At the time it’s hard to take, but it’s professional racing and the lessons you take from it can really set you up for what’s to come. It gets a lot harder but it’s a very similar game.

“So I think it’s really important for developing guys to have that crack to race against guys who are racing at pro tour level and see that 1) it’s not impossible and 2) to just gain that experience at that little different level and maybe it will help them learn a few things and maybe make that jump to racing at NRC, and then making way up to Pro Continental team like Spidertech.”

With managers from top North American teams at BC Superweek, it’s also a great way to get noticed and earn a professional contract, added Meier.

BC Superweek can be a big measuring stick,” he said. “You have a lot of top American teams come and their directors and managers are always watching, so if you are impressing during Superweek against bigger riders, a lot of guys have used that to get contracts with US teams. That’s very important for local riders because you don’t always have the means to go race all the big races across the US. So when all that is coming to you, it’s a huge opportunity.”