Posted by Editoress on 06/26/14
Alison Sydor and Ron Hayman Named Official Starters for Gastown Grand Prix
The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix is delighted to announce that firing the gun to start the men’s and women’s races will be two of Canada’s most decorated cyclists and former winners of the race, Alison Sydor and Ron Hayman.
Alison Sydor is one of the most talented and accomplished riders in BC and Canadian cycling history. Her amazing success on the mountain bike includes medals at the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games, 17 World Cup victories, ten medals at mountain bike World Championships, four mountain bike World Championship titles (three in cross-country, one in team relay) and a Silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Alison Sydor at the 2006 Gastown GP
As incredible as that is, she was equally talented on the road. She was a long-time member of Canada’s national road team with some amazing performances that included a bronze medal at the World Road Race Championships and a victory at the Gastown Grand Prix in 1991.
“It's an honor to be asked to help start the women’s race in Gastown this year,” said Sydor. “For me, the race holds so many great memories, I will never forget my excitement the first year I raced it as a new rider in 1987 and each time I had the opportunity to race in front of family, friends, and tons of spectators in Gastown. It was always one of the highlights of my race season.
“The Gastown Grand Prix is as special for the riders as it is for the entire Lower Mainland cycling community as we get to show our sport off on a very special night. As a woman athlete, I know the constant frustration with the lack of equal opportunities for women in road cycling, so I applaud Global Relay and the event organizers for their equal respect for the women racing this year and also for their continued respect for the contributions that our many great women athletes have brought to the sport of cycling in the province.
“As a coach with the dEVo youth cycling program, events like Gastown do so much to inspire and motivate our young riders, who already have a growing passion for the sport. The accessibility and excitement of seeing Gastown first-hand contributes greatly to creating a curiosity and inspires many other young people to check out the sport for themselves.”
BC Road Race Champion Ron Hayman rides up Water Street in the 1975 Gastown Grand Prix. Photo by John Denniston
On the men’s side, Ron Hayman was a seven-time Canadian national champion on road and track and represented Canada at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976. His amateur career included being named top amateur in Belgium in1979 and winning the 1979 Tour of Ireland over future cycling superstars Phil Anderson, Stephen Roche and Robert Millar, who finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
Hayman was also one of the first Canadians to turn pro, riding professionally from 1979 to 1988. He was a founding member of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team, with which he notched up wins in the Great Mohawk Bicycle Race in 1981 and the final stage of the 1983 Tour of America. In addition to winning four stages of the Coors Classic, he also came home to win the Gastown Grand Prix three times from 1981 to 1983, a record for the men that still stands.
“There’s something special about performing before your home town fans,” said Hayman. “Before most of my races, I was relaxed, probably too relaxed. There were three exceptions: the World Championships, the Olympic Games, and Gastown.
“Why I got so nervous before the first two, I’ll never understand. After all, I didn’t have a chance of medaling in either. However, at Gastown I did – and I expected no less than a win – every time out. So each year, I devised a plan to keep my nerves in check – isolating myself from anything and anyone that would affect my mental state. Once the gun fired to start the race however, I never felt a thing. And the closer I rode to the roaring crowd down each straight, the stronger I felt – as though soaking in their energy. What a rush.”
On July 9th, Hayman will be the one firing the gun for the pros and amateurs trying to keep their nerves in check on the start line. One of them, Ken Hanson of UnitedHealthcare, already has two Gastown titles and is bringing a powerful crit team with him in hopes of tying Hayman’s record.
Our thanks to Alison Sydor and Ron Hayman for joining us as official starters for the 2014 Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix.
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