Toronto JUNE JULY 17-32_Layout 1 2015-06-01 2:26 PM Page 22
Pan Am Games Puts Cycling in Spotlight
By Beatrice Fantoni
I remember in those days there was the Tour de France on television,” Zilli says, recalling what inspired her first canvas. Since then she’s gone on to sell her work to cycling enthusiasts all over the world. “I like to see that too because we share the same passion.
yclists pedalling from A to B are a common sight in most Canadian cities, but when it comes to competitive cycling, the sport doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as, say, hockey or football. For now, at least. The upcoming Pan Am games will feature both road cycling and track cycling and experts in the industry predict the exposure will help increase the sport’s popularity across the country. “There’s definitely an excitement that’s filtering into the community,” says Matthew Pioro, editor of Canadian Cycling Magazine. In particular, the new Cisco Milton Pan/Parapan Am Velodrome, built especially for the games in Milton, Ont., is attracting a lot of attention. “It’s getting traction locally. (People are) intrigued. They want to know more,” Pioro says. For Joseph Veloce, an Olympic track cyclist who represented Canada at the London 2012 summer games (and whose name, which means “fast” in Italian, is very apropos), there’s no doubt this is a key moment in the development of the sport nationally, not just among amateurs but at the elite level, too. “On track it’s drawing quite a few people,” says Veloce, who lives in Ancaster, Ont. “Especially on the sprint side, the sport is exploding across the world.” And it’s terrific for Canada to finally have a world-class training facility at home in time for the games, he adds. “There’s no doubt the whole team wants medals in every event.” While it’s true Canada doesn’t have the same cycling tradition as Italy or France, Pioro says, it does have a very dedicated core. For example, Canada has its own versions of the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia – just think of the Tour de Beauce or BC Superweek – which are well known in North America. At the elite level, it doesn’t hurt that the women’s Canadian cycling team brought home a bronze medal at the Olympics, Veloce says. “That was an eye-opener. When we get to these races, we’re respected.” The added bonus for athletes like Veloce, who started cycling competitively in 2004, is the new facility allows them to finally train at