From the streets of the lower mainland, to the podiums of BC Superweek, to the Champs-Élysées, Langley native Svein Tuft is set to make his Tour de France debut at the age of 36.
The eight-time Canadian National Time Trial champion and multiple BC Superweek event winner was named to the nine-man Tour de France team for ORICA-GreenEDGE on Wednesday, and is set to take the start line on cycling’s biggest stage in just 10 days.
“Svein is a world class time trialer,” said ORICA-GreenEDGE Sport Director Matt White in a release on the team’s website. “He’ll be crucial for our team time trial ambitions. He’s a strong guy with a huge amount of power to chase breakaways or look after the sprint train. We can use him in a lot of ways. I’m really looking forward to taking him to his first Tour de France.”
Tuft has shown off that time trial ability numerous times at BC Superweek, including criterium victories at the Tour de Delta, UBC Grand Prix, and Tour de White Rock last summer.
He has been involved in BC Superweek for more than a decade as a competitor and supporter, first learning to race against the best, and later returning from Europe to give other young BC riders a chance to do the same. The local races that helped Tuft get started on an impressive career in the saddle still hold a special place for one of Canada’s top professional cyclists.
“Quite honestly it’s some of the best and most enjoyable racing around – always good courses, good crowds, and the riders are really highly motivated,” said Tuft.
Tuft enjoys both the stiff competition at BC Superweek and the support when he returns home to race.
“I really look forward to BC Superweek because my cycling roots are here, my best memories have always been this type of racing, and it’s a chance to race in my hometown in front of friends and family,” Tuft said. “I don’t get that opportunity much in Europe, so it’s a real treat to come back and race.”
For Tuft, who still remembers getting into his first breakaway with Canadian Olympic silver medal winner Brian Walton at the Tour de White Rock was back in 2001, coming home to compete most summers is also about being able to give other young up-and-coming riders career advice – and a chance to mark his wheel and measure themselves against him.
“That was huge for me being in a break with Brian Walton,” Tuft said. “I didn’t have a clue other than people telling me, `that’s Brian Walton’ and for me that was a big thing. It’s the same for guys coming here so to be able to race back home in BC, where I started, any chance I get to do that, I partake. It’s important for our next generation of guys coming up to race at that level, and for people to come out see it. It helps bring up the level and if you are looking to develop and go to the next level, you need to race against guys that are at that level and get a taste of what it is. It’s hard to know what that is if you don’t.”
BC Superweek has certainly provided that level of competition, with several locally based riders earning catching the eye of team managers to earn professional contracts over the years, and more than two dozens ties to cycling’s the Grand Tours, including the centrepiece Tour de France.
Joining Tuft on the Tour de France start line this year, will be fellow Canadians David Veilleux of Quebec, who beat Tuft in a sprint at the 2010 Tour de Delta, as well as Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal. In addition to Veilleux, the list of recent BC Superweek competitors with Tour de France ties includes Canadian legend Gord Fraser, American veteran Chris Horner, Danny Pate and Tyler Farrar, who has two stage wins at the Tour de France, and should again be front and center this year.
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BC Superweek is Canada’s biggest cycling series, with $110,000 in prize money available during nine races over 10 days.
BC Superweek runs from July 5 – 14, and is made up of the Tour de Delta (races on July 5, 6, 7), UBC Grand Prix (July 9), Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 10), Giro di Burnaby (July 11) and the Tour de White Rock (races on July 12, 13, 14)
Learn more at www.bcsuperweek.ca
Media Relations, BC Superweek
Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix