On Wednesday, the Global Relay Bridge The Gap Fund (GRBTG Fund) celebrated the start of it’s ninth year with the announcement that Global Relay, a Vancouver based tech company, has committed to support the fund and its cycling development initiatives for another four years.
The Bridge-the-Gap fund was created by Global Relay in November 2012. The fund is led by former Canadian cycling professionals Svein Tuft, Ryan Anderson, Erinne Willock, Kevin Field and Andrew Pinfold. Its mission is, “to facilitate the advancement of aspiring Canadian Olympic road Cyclists through mentorship, coaching, and financial support.”
The GRBTG Fund has already helped more than 70 athletes gain spots on professional trade teams—including nine to UCI pro conti or WorldTour levels. GRBTG Fund alumni athlete Leah Kirchmann, a 2016 and 2020 Olympian, also leads a mentorship program with the fund.
The COVID pandemic has impacted the global and Canadian competitive cycling environment in a unique and challenging way. Competitions have been cancelled or postponed, teams and programs are struggling.
Bridge-the-Gap Fund’s managing director Andrew Pinfold says that he is confident that the fund’s programs will continue to play an integral role in developing Canada’s most promising emerging athletes, youth programs and events, through creative responses to Canadian cycling’s new challenges.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Global Relay has chosen to continue to support us for the next four years,” says Pinfold. “They took a chance nine years ago and invested in our ideas on how to progress cycling in Canada. It worked. I’m equally excited about our future. Along with my fellow directors we’ve been more active than ever reaching out to stakeholders and key collaborators. We’ve had exciting conversations and general agreement to be more aligned and working together in 2021.”
In 2021, the GRBTG fund plans to prioritize project funding to teams, clubs or programs that get Canada’s most promising young athletes safely racing in international competition. It will work directly with project leaders and coaches providing valuable consultation and connecting initiatives to its network for additional support.
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In 2021 the GRBTG fund will work with three types of programs. First, special projects: The fund hopes to collaborate with other Canadian stakeholders to support projects that help Canadian riders get racing opportunities and exposure that will help them advance to the next level.
The fund will also sponsor youth programs and initiatives this year. The youth club seeding program provides two year grants to youth cycling clubs aimed at establishing club sustainability and coaching development. The long-term goal of the program is to boost and sustain the number of youth meaningfully involved in competitive cycling.
Finally, the GRBTG fund will also provide mentorship and direct financial support to elite riders, in an effort to help athletes reach the highest levels of the sport. In the context of the pandemic, the fund is looking to support athletes and find ways to continue their trajectories in Europe.
The fund says that high consideration will be given to projects supporting women, junior, multi-discipline athletes or projects and initiatives with athlete selection flexibility.