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Bridge the Gap sends fifth rider to pro ranks

Global Relay’s Bridge the Gap fund has sent another rider to a pro team. In only the program’s second year, the organization has now sent five Canadians to professional squads.

Alizée Brien of St. Jérome, Que., was picked up by Team TIBCO for the 2014 season.

In December, Kris Dahl of Calgary was picked up by Team SmartStop presented by Mountain Khakis after riding as a stagiaire in September’s inaugural Tour of Alberta.

Bridge the Gap is a fund put together by Vancouver-based software company Global Relay, who specializes in cloud-based messaging. Global Relay pledges $100,000 each year to help fund amateur riders during their critical development years from ages 19 to 25. Canada has very few chances for riders to be picked up by teams and without those opportunities some amateurs face the dilemma of giving up the sport to make a living or racking up large amounts of debt to continue training.

“This past year, Bridge the Gap’s financial support allowed me to attend bigger and better races, including a trip to Ireland to race with the Canadian national Team,” said Dahl in a press release. “And it’s not just the financial support that the fund provides, but a high degree of mentoring and support to help guide my cycling career. Bridge the Gap was able to use its connections with professional teams to help secure my professional contract for the 2014 season. Their commitment to the development and support of young riders has been very much appreciated and I owe the fund a huge thank you.”

The fund is based on more than talent. Although being a strong rider is an important quality, the board of directors also looks at the needs of riders and their attitudes, similar to how a pro team would select members.

The announcement comes on the heels of a similar funding story. This week, Catharine Pendrel gave up her Sport Canada Athletic Assistance Program funding, so it could be given to other amateur riders who were more in need of the support.

Other riders who have been recipients of Bridge the Gap and found spots on pro teams include Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin, Alex Cataford and Anika Todd.