On Feb. 20, Canadian Olivia Baril was poised to podium at the last stage of the Dubai Women’s Tour. She started sprinting but accidentally unclipped 20 m before the line, still finishing in fourth place. This put her in sixth place in the overall GC rankings for the race, a promising start to her 2020 season.
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Baril is a member of Canada’s oldest UCI continental team, Macogep Tornatech Girondins de Bordeaux. Gérard Penarroya, the team owner, director and occasional cook/mechanic, is now in his fourth season of coaching the team at a UCI level (2012, 2013, 2017 and 2020).
Penarroya has made a career of coaching a number of successful Canadian cyclists, such as Clara Hughes, Tara Whitten, Karol-Ann Canuel, Allison beveridge and Steph Roorda. He sees his team as a great development program for Canadian female cyclists.
Macogep Tornatech Girondins de Bordeaux began in France and moved to Canada. Normally a few French riders join the Canadian team, but this year, French rider Marion Bessone had to pull out of racing due to the demands of her job as a pharmacist.
Many professional female cyclists work full time on top of training and racing.
All members of Canada’s other UCI continental women’s team, Instafund Laprima, also work or study full time. Some team members, such as Kristen Kit are multi-sport athletes as well. Kit is taking the year off cycling, as she’s aiming to go to the Olympics for rowing. Isabella Bertold, another teammate, is a world Cup medalist in Olympic Sailing. She’s taking some time away from sailing to focus on road cycling this season.
Cananda’s newest women’s UCI continental team
This is the first year Instafund Laprima will be a UCI continental level team. The team was founded last year, and they competed as a continental trade team with a calendar focused on North American Pro Road Tour (PRT) and UCI races.
Instafund Laprima director Shawn Clarke has clear goals for the team. “Applying to be a UCI team is an important step for the team,” he says. “Last season, in all of the UCI/PRT races we raced, InstaFund showed that we belong at the front of this level of racing. We have plans for careful, but steady growth over the next seasons, and this is the first big step. We now have a strong foundation on which to build something really great for cycling in Canada.”
While Instafund Laprima’s schedule is mainly based around racing at a UCI level, they will also be hitting up some key gravel races like Dirty Kanza.
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Macogep Tornatech Girondins de Bordeaux will be racing a packed season. They will be competing in around 30 stage races, crits, one day races and TTs from April to September.
Penarroya is happy to see women’s cycling growing in Canada. He advises Instafund Laprima to use this season as an educational experience. “When you get to UCI level,” he says, “there are many things to learn in the first year.”