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Canada’s newest high-performance women’s team aims to create a pathway for young talent

The junior/U21 squad will race in North America and Europe

Photo by: Patrik Rytir

On Nov. 17,  B.C.’s Local Ride Racing announced the start of a new female high performance road cycling team for 2021. The team will target U21 and second year junior riders. with a race schedule to include select regional and North American races with plans for European projects.

The team will be managed and directed by Barry Lyster, a two-time recipient of Cycling Canada’s Track Coach of the Year. Lyster has been involved in high performance bike racing for close to 20 years with a focus and strong commitment to juniors and female cyclists.

“I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences with this new team,” he says. “I plan to provide a different high performance pathway for young female racers than what most of them experience in our current system. Positive things are happening for elite women cyclists internationally and we need to provide the tools for our young, talented athletes to compete to win at that level.”

In 2011, Lyster formed Local Ride/Dr. Vie Superfoods, an elite road team designed to support Canada’s National Track team riders as they prepared for London 2012. Jasmin Duehring, Gillian Carleton, Steph Roorda and Laura Brown were some of the National Team riders and Olympic bronze medalists that were part of that program.

Maggie Coles-Lyster

For the past six years, Lyster has been coaching and managing Maggie Coles-Lyster. Maggie, a three time Junior Track World Championship medalist, including a gold in 2017. In her second year as a junior, Coles-Lyster moved to Europe and raced for a Belgian women’s development team. The tenacious, attacking nature of European racing matched her personal racing style and these experiences helped her win gold on the track. Once she entered the elite category, many high performance racing opportunities she needed were not provided through the current system. As a solution, Lyster put together an international track racing program which included close to a dozen events to ensure she got the valuable racing experience she needed in a very critical time in her development.

Coles-Lyster’s hard work and perseverance got her accepted into the prestigious Six Day Track Series with her last race before the Covid-19 lockdown being the historic Six Day Berlin. She is currently racing on the road for her UCI team DNA Pro Cycling and competing Internationally on the track. As an experienced racers, Coles-Lyster will provide mentorship and share her experiences with the team as she continues her own cycling journey.

“Working with Maggie and working with her at these international track projects really opened my eyes to the many challenges’ female cyclists face in their pursuit of cycling opportunities,” says Lyster. “It has also given me new perspectives on how to better prepare our young female racers to not only handle these situations, but to rise above and come out stronger.”

A growing team

Lyster is currently working with potential sponsors and supporters for the up-coming season. There is also a GoFundMe link through Sport BC providing tax receipts for donations. “I am humbled by the amount of early support shown for this project,” he says. “Even under the current pandemic, I am confident that we will be able accomplish our 2021 goals with good momentum to ride us into 2022.”

Along with the U21 high performance female road team, Lyster plans to continue with international track race projects open to female riders to help facilitate bunch racing skills for the Omnium and Madison races, both Olympic events, and a missing gap within the current system of development.

The team is still recruiting: U21 and second year Junior riders interested in joining can send a cover letter and resume to localrideracing@gmail.com