Kevin Simms has been involved with Canadian junior cycling for two decades and has coached several riders you’ve probably heard about. He worked with the Toronto Hustle squad to develop junior athletes, and that he did, with riders like Gavin Hadfield and Luke Valenti, who now ride with the u-23 team, Premier Tech. Simms coached current national XCO champ, Pete Disera. He also worked with Michael Leonard, who signed with the WorldTour powerhouse, Ineos Grenadiers. He’s been the driving force behind developing several Canadian athletes, and in 2023, that momentum continues.
Canada’s Michael Leonard debuts for Ineos at Etoile de Bessèges
In 2023, he is launching Ignite Junior Cycling, and he’s getting support from some familiar names. Joining Simms will be National Cycling Institute Milton executive director, Chris Reid, former WorldTour rider Michael Barry, as well as board members John Monette and Liam Philley, who have been involved with youth cycling and the NCIM.
Support staff strengthened
Reid and Barry have been active in cycling both as cyclists themselves, and now as mentors and advisors.
“Ignite Junior Development is the latest evolution in what is happening around the Mattamy National Cycling Centre,” Reid explains. “It is going to help catalyze and foster a cycling culture in the region. The last two seasons we really saw a great collaboration with the Toronto Hustle junior program in which several of the NCIM athletes benefited greatly by being able to layer a robust road calendar on top of their track racing and training. Ignite is allowing us to build on this by design.
Reid also believes that racing on the track as well as road can only help the development process.
“There is a common misconception or a false dichotomy drawn in some circles between endurance track and road,” he says “The truth is good bike racers are good bike racers, and if we want to develop good bike racers we need to be giving them diverse racing opportunities across various disciplines consistently and in a systemic thought out manner.”
Developing potential by creating chances
Canada has seen several great results in the junior ranks as of late–Dylan Bibic, Carson Mattern, and Isabella Holmgren have all claimed rainbow jerseys. It shows that if riders are given the chance, they can deliver.
Bella and Ava Holmgren, Maghalie Rochette on an historic day of cyclocross
Canada has always had the potential, Reid says. “We just need to…
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