By Keith Lacey
The sport of competitive cycling for juniors under age 18 is going to get a giant boost when racers from across the province – and around the world – compete on the brand new Area 27 racetrack facility in late spring.
Ron Hayman, the founder of the Hayman Classic Youth Stage Race, has announced he has worked out a deal with management at Area 27 to use the sports car training facility to stage a full day of youth cycling races on Friday, June 9.
This will be part of a series of road races and time trials to be held in Penticton and the South Okanagan as part of the Hayman Classic, which will attract competitors from across B.C. several other western provinces, numerous states in the United States and several European countries, said Hayman.
“I was talking with Bill Drossos, who is the general manager with Area 27, and he was very cooperative and very interested in agreeing to allow us to use their facility as part of our annual series of races with the Hayman Classic,” said Hayman. “When you consider the going rate to rent that facility is in the range of $15,000 an hour for non members, it’s quite a generous offer and one we have graciously accepted.”
On June 9, junior cyclists from ages 9 to 18 will race over the 4.8-kilometre racetrack.
Hayman and his partners have helped organize and B.C. Youth Cycling Championships in Penticton the past two years “and the race has quickly become one of the really important events in competitive youth cycling in western Canada,” said Hayman.
While there are numerous cycling events for adults spread across the Okanagan Valley and much of British Columbia, there aren’t enough events to attract competitive junior cyclists, but he’s doing his best to try and change that, said Hayman.
“It is not an inexpensive sport and there are concerns from parents relating to safety issues,” he said. ‘But that being said, we have to provide events for talented junior cyclists or we might lose them at a very young age.
“We’ve proven with our event that we can attract outstanding junior racers from not only this region, but from far away if you run a quality event. These racers need to compete in meaningful events in order to make progress.”
The Hayman Classic is designed to give competitors a “European style” racing experience with numerous events held on consecutive days over beautiful, but challenging terrain, he said.
Other races that will be featured in the 2017 Hayman Classic include a hill climb race in Penticton before the races at Area 27 on June 9, a criterium time trial event in Penticton on Saturday, June 10 and a road race starting and finishing at Southern Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver on Sunday, June 11, said Hayman.
The Axel Merckx Youth Development Foundation, which is a not-for-profit initiative established in 2011 to help develop and steward competitive junior cycling, will provide some of the funding to help stage the 2017 Hayman Classic, said Hayman.
Merckx is the legendary Belgian cyclist who now lives in Kelowna and has organized the Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan, which has become one of the largest cycling events in Canada each year.
Having competitors race over four consecutive days provides them with a European-style event most will face when they move from junior into the senior competitive racing circuit, said Hayman.
“We’ve designed the event to be like a mini Tour de France … where competitors must finish one stage to be able to have the chance to continue on to the next stage,” he said. “Because we will be dealing with a lot of young kids, we will try not to eliminate anyone if they can’t finish a stage, but the idea is to expose them to the type of racing they will be facing when they move on from juniors.”
Hayman expects there will be between 150 to 200 junior cyclists registered for the 2017 Hayman Classic.
“We should get the top boys and girls from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and most of the top kids from the Red Devils Cycling Club in Kelowna,” he said. “We also expect a lot of the top junior riders from the other western provinces, a large contingent from one of the top junior clubs in Quebec and many from nearby states like Washington and Oregon.
“This is a pretty special part of the world and racers want to compete because it’s a good event, but also because it’s quite beautiful here.”
Racers will only have to pay $150 to compete in all four events over four days, he said.
Anyone wanting more information can visit the website at www.haymanclassic.ca.