I’ve been waiting a few years to write this post because somehow I knew it would be happening.
A New Brunswick cyclist will be starting in the Tour de France tomorrow.
Just let that sink in.
Our province has produced its’ share of world class business people, hockey players, academics and so forth but for NB to produce a world class cyclist who will be competing in the biggest bicycle race in the world is something truly special.
Christian Meier got the nod at the last minute after Orica GreenEdge team mate Michael Matthews had a hard crash during training that left him unable to start.
To appreciate the magnitude of a plucky little guy from Sussex lining up to take the start in the Tour de France consider this: New Brunswick has produced world class baseball and hockey players and to see them “go to the show” is something worthy of our excitement and pride.
Stick and ball sports like hockey and baseball however have infastructures in place and if talent is recognized at an early age, it can be nurtured and developed and brought up through the ranks until ready for a shot at the big time.
There is no such infastructure to speak of for a Canadian cyclist to break in to the top tier of international bicycle racing. This feat then, speaks volumes about Christian Meier’s talent and work ethic.
Having spoken with the Orica GreenEdge rider a few times for articles I have written on him I had learned that he is a guy not afraid of putting in the work. Cycling is about suffering and Meier has been reaping the rewards of being able to pedal through the pain. Last weekend he put in a tremendous effort to finish 3rd at the Canadian national championships. He won the climbers jersey at the Tour of Bavaria last month and earlier this year he was able to make it into the break at key races like Critereum du Dauphine. In 2013 he won 2 jerseys at la Vuelta a Catalunya. Not bad for a guy who’s role on the team is that of a domestique.
Meier is no stranger to the Grand Tours, he’s raced the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana but this is his first time in le Grand Boucle.
I’ve been following the Tour de France for 30 years and cheered on Canadian pioneers like Steve Bauer and Alex Stieda as they were the first Canadians to take to the roads of France, each of them Yellow Jersey wearers. I would never dream that someone who pedalled the same roads as me would be participating in the biggest bike race in the world.
I’ll be following each stage of the Tour hoping to see if he can get into a break, something he has been able to acomplish at other big races this year.
He’s not there to win. But he’s there, and that is pretty freaking awesome.
If you can’t catch the Tour de France on television http://www.cyclingfans.com is an excellent resource for live feeds in multiple languages.
A New Brunswicker at the Tour de France. Imagine that.