Posted by Editoress on 08/10/20
Today is the latest in our series - Race Revisit - where we return to a past event that took place on (or around) this date. As well as a recap of the event and links to our original coverage - race reports, results, photos and video interviews - we will also be including comments and in-depth commentary from some of the Canadian athletes who were there.
This year would have been the 52nd edition of the Tour de l'Abitibi, the most prestigious Junior men's stage race in North America. Held in the northern Quebec Rouyn-Noranda region, this week-long race brings in riders from around the world and, for many, is their first exposure to the full professional stage race experience. Some legendary riders have participated over the years, before going on to professional careers that have reached the heights of men's road racing.
We begin our Revisit of Abitibi with the 1976 edition and Steve Bauer; one of the greatest cyclists in Canadian history, who had his first exposure to stage racing that year. Bauer was riding for his local St-Catherines team as a first year Junior. He finished 32nd overall and eighth in the Points competition, even wearing the Maillot Orange [Points Jersey] for a while. That was a year with a number of big Canadian names in attendance, including Louis Garneau, Pierre Harvey (who won two stages), Gary Trevisiol (4th overall) and Rob Velland (who also won a stage). American rider Steve Pyle won the overall title.
Above pages from the Tour de l'Abitibi 50th Anniversary book - Courtesy Alex Stieda
Steve admits that his memories are hazy from that long ago, when he spoke to us from Belgium, where he is sports director for the CCC WorldTour team.
It was '75 or '76, only the history books can tell for sure. I did wear the Points Jersey, I remember. We recruited Peter Strohmeyer from the U.S. to race with us [on the St-Catherines team; Strohmeyer finished second overall]. It was a pretty cool race as a Junior, to have that high level competition. Pretty exciting and challenging, and unique.
As I recall, there was a time trial and some road races with circuit races at the end that were pretty fast. Wool jerseys, I remember those!
It absolutely contributed to my development; first of all, it's a stage race, and it's rare to have the opportunity [as a Junior] to have any stage racing or back-to-back racing, with [cumulative] times or points protocols. In itself, that is a nice experience, and having the experience of being on a collaborative team that races together ... definitely it was a valuable experience. Any Junior having that opportunity ... certainly it's fantastic that it has been able to sustain its legacy as an event. Quite fantastic and rare.
Previous Race revisits
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