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Oli Asks: Jr. national champion Raph Parisella

Quebec junior finds his own way to winning big races

I messaged my good friend, Riley Pickrell, to ask if he had an idea of a junior rider from Quebec that I could interview. He said, “Raph. He rides like five hours a week and doesn’t have a coach.” This had me intrigued.

Residing in Boucherville, Quebec, a small town near Montreal, Junior Canadian National road champ, Raphael Parisella, just finished racing for Team Canada at the junior nations cup, Tour de l’Abitibi. He was happy to answer a few questions I had for him, and politely did so in English, as I myself am unfortunately only versed the less romantic language.

Raph, is it true that you don’t have a coach?

Yes, it’s actually true.

Have you ever had one?

I get to train with a group all winter with my school and there are coaches there, but I’ve never had a coach send me a personal training plan.

Why do you choose not to have one?

I like to be free and have fun on the bike. It could change in the future.

What is your philosophy behind an arguably lower than average training volume?

There’s no real philosophy. I just find I’m more motivated and less bored, as well as more fresh for the races.

Raphael Parisella on his way to winning the 2019 junior men’s race at Canadian road nationals.

Who are your biggest role models and sources of inspiration?

I’ll say my good friend and mentor Alexis Cartier. He was pro for many years and now rides for our local team. We’re not far from the same weight, and it’s rare to have 175lbs + riders in cycling, so to see what he can do in races is super motivating.

Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever raced?

I’d say Rimouski, Quebec, but I’m looking forward to racing in Europe next year.

What is the biggest setback you’ve experienced?

I’m pretty lucky to have had nothing major apart from some little injuries in the off season.

What is it about cycling that captivates you?

I’m not the most social guy so I love to get lost and ride my bike, but when it comes to racing I’m super competitive.

Is there any part of bike racing that scares you?

Descents in a big bunch, but I’m usually able to manage them pretty well.

What sort of positive change would you like to see to improve opportunities for developing cyclists in Canada?

More interest in road cycling from Cycling Canada to even out the funding between track and road.

What’s one of the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn as a cyclist?

I always start the first hour of a race or a ride too hard and it has put me in trouble many times.

Any tips for other young, ambitious cyclists?

I would say have fun as long as possible and just go on adventures with your friends on the bike.

What are ideal race conditions for you?

Rainy and cool, maybe 15 degrees, with a short, punchy hill before a false flat sprint finish.

Where would you like cycling to take you?

As far as possible. To race around the world and test myself to the best

Thanks for the time, Raph. Having never met, I found this interview quite refreshing, as you seem a very honest and relaxed cyclist and young man. I appreciate that you ride according to your own rules, and obviously this has worked out in your favour thus far! Your advice to young cyclists to simply ‘go on adventures’ is excellent, as I feel it takes some of us too long to occasionally take cycling and ourselves unseriously.