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 Virtual Cycling Series

6/17/20

by: Bill Potrecz, BP Sports Niagara

Canadian Junior Virtual Cycling Series gives N21 hopefuls a preview of next summer’s road race

Dylan Bibic got a virtual preview of the cycling course scheduled to be used at the Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games in Pelham and came away impressed.

Bibic, a 16-year-old Mississauga resident, competed Sunday along with other riders in the Canadian Junior Virtual Cycling Series’ fourth race. 

Every week, over the last month, U17 and junior women and men from across the country have competed in virtual competitions based upon some of the most iconic road races across Canada. Each of these age groups has been tasked with racing the same 40-kilometre route, with equal distances for men and women. The series was designed for Canadian youth cyclists, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes some who will participate in next summer’s Canada Games in Niagara.

“It was moderately hilly (and featured) a few corners which will be interesting and a lot of fun,” Bibic said. “It was a nice finish, an interesting finish with the final hill.”

A 16-year-old Dylan Bibic is spotted at his first-ever Canadian Road Championships in Beauce, Que., where he won a bronze medal in both the Time Trial and Criterium in June 2019.

Ottawa’s Skye Pellerin also enjoyed the course.

“The whole thing was rolling hills, it was always up hills and down hills so it was very consistent,” she said. “It was very good. It was a good race.”

Pellerin, who has been racing competitively for just over six months, loved the experience. 

“I ended up leading a lot of it. When I wanted to hang back in the draft I felt no one wanted to take the lead so I always ended up in the lead. I got a really good workout from it which is something that is good to get right now. I still have no regrets. It was a good race.

“I am happy how it turned out.”

Both racers acknowledged the virtual aspect is a good alternative given the current pandemic.

“It’s really nice, it’s the most realistic, I think,” Bibic said of the computer simulation. “Actual racing scenarios will play out instead of other racer games which are just all out. This one has a bit of tactics involved.”

Ottawa-native Skye Pellerin, one of 30 athletes identified and funded through the 2019 RBC Training Ground program, is seen cycling through Joshua Tree National Park (California) back in February 2020.

Pellerin agreed.

“Basically it’s supposed to be the closest experience you can have to a real road race,” she said. 

“Drafting works perfectly. You can hang behind them and you can’t go right through someone. If you get too close it will put a break on you. If you’re going up a hill you really feel the incline. It’s basically what you feel if you were outside.”

Bibic, who switched from baseball to cycling around age 10, feels racing virtually has helped his mental outlook during the pandemic.

“It definitely keeps me motivated to train and to strive for something,” he said. “If it wasn’t for this race series doing these fun courses, I wouldn’t have much to do competitive-wise and there wouldn’t be much intent to train.”

Bibic competes in the fourth race of the Canadian Junior Virtual Cycling Series from his home in Mississauga, Ont.

Bibic has set the bar high for his future.

“I’m looking forward to my first time competing in the Canada Games. It’s one of the biggest things I can do as a Canadian cyclist at my age,” he said. “The course seems to fit me well.”

Down the road, Bibic is looking at competing on the world stage.

“Definitely go to the Olympics for road or track,” he said when asked for his long-term goals.

The series sees athletes compete in their respective categories for the title of Canadian Junior Virtual Series Champion. The cyclists are ranked according to an overall points classification system that is based on their performances across Canada. The athletes will have five races count toward their series points tally. These races will be their best result in: Atlantic Canada, Quebec/Ontario, The Prairies and Western Canada.

A inside look at Pellerin’s set-up for the fourth race of the Canadian Junior Virtual Cycling Series from her home in Ottawa. 

“It’s great how they are replicating long-standing races from junior races across Canada,” said Kevin Field, head of Performance Strategy at Cycling Canada. “It’s awesome and pretty neat.

“We’re always looking for better opportunities to leverage online racing, not so much for just the racing, but for also the community-building aspects of it. I think for us as a country, being big, and not so densely populated it’s hard to travel around, and then also being pretty northern, which means it’s hard to ride outside, the opportunity for us with online or virtual racing or even just virtual training has always been really high.”

This report was filed by BP Sports Niagara, which is owned and operated by Bernie Puchalski and Bill Potrecz.

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