Ontario mixed surface bike race Paris to Ancaster has the distinction of actually starting in Paris, just the one to the west of Hamilton, and has added to it’s prestige by becoming the first financial sponsor of the Canadian national cyclocross team. The five-year partnership with the program is a milestone because it’s the first time a sponsor comes in to support a non-Olympic discipline under Cycling Canada.
The partnership is intended to offset the costs of mechanical assistance and coaching support at international competitions like UCI Cyclocross World Cups and the UCI Cyclocross World Championships. Over the years, particiapnts in P2A have included notable cyclocross racers from Canada and aboard, Olympic athletes and the general public at large.
“In a sense, P2A is simply doubling down on a year’s long commitment to provide what support we can. The national cyclocross team athletes and staff can count on us for the next 5 seasons…at least,” said Tim Farrar, P2A race director.
When P2A was in it’s infancy, it was classified as a mountain bike race through Cycling Canada. With no rules defining the race, people were encouraged to ride cyclocross bikes. Through the years, athletes and staff involved in the national cyclocross team have been involved with the race.
In past editions of P2A, American cyclocross racers Jeremy Powers and Ellen Nobel have raced, as well as Ruby West and Gunnar Holmgren who both now count UCI cyclocross wins on the palmares.
“This is really exciting as it’s the first time we’ve had a sponsor step in to help one of our non-Olympic disciplines,” said head of performance operations at Cycling Canada Kris Westwood. “Cyclocross is a fun and safe, yet challenging introduction to cycling for many athletes that has high-performance targets in its own right; many of our current track, mountain bike and road national team members had their first world championships experience in cross.
P2A draws inspiration from European spring classics like Paris-Roubaix. Instead of rough cobblestones, it features farm tracts, rail trails, mudslides and gravel roads. “The success of the Paris to Ancaster bike race is testimony to how popular this branch of cycling is in North America,” Westwood added.