By Keith Lacey
Former Canadian Olympian and national team coach Ron Hayman wants other youngsters to be able to enjoy all that the sport of cycling has to offer.
That’s why he decided three years ago to develop the Hayman Classic, a four-day cycling event for youngsters between the ages of 13 and 19, that took place in Oliver and Penticton last Thursday to Sunday.
“This is my way of trying to promote the sport of cycling for young riders by giving them their own event,” said Hayman, who competed for Canada in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany and again in 1976 at the Montreal Summer Olympic Games.
“Far too often, junior events are tagged on as some sort of side show at the very end of senior competition. I wanted to give junior racers an event where the spotlight was entirely on them.”
This was the third year for the Hayman Classic, which is bidding to become a top event on the young cycling calendar both regionally and nationally.
A total of 99 boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 19 competed in the 2017 Hayman Classic, which included a hill climb in Penticton last Thursday, a race around the beautiful Area 27 racetrack facility in Oliver on Friday, road racing in Penticton on Saturday and an extended race on the streets in and around Oliver on Sunday.
“The idea is to give the kids exposure to big cycling events in Europe … a sort of mini Tour de France,” said Hayman. “They got to experience different courses in different settings where they get to test all of their cycling skills.”
The last two years, the Hayman Classic also served as the official British Columbia Youth Cycling Championships and this included riders as young as 10 and 11, which was removed from the 2017 Hayman Classic, he said.
“The idea this year was to give the older kids who have had strong results on the circuit a chance to show their stuff,” he said. “We had 99 riders signed up, including a strong contingent of 12 from Ontario, so I’m very happy this event continues to grow and attract better junior racers with each passing year.”
While cycling remains a niche sport in most parts of Canada, there has been a steady growth in the number of competitive junior racers over the past several years, said Hayman.
“I would say it’s a growing sport,” he said. “There are strong pockets in Ontario and Quebec where there are some outstanding young riders and we’re working hard to get more young riders in B.C. involved. It’s going to take events like this one designed specifically for junior competitors to raise the profile of the sport and get more young people involved.”
The City of Penticton and Town of Oliver – and business owners in both communities – were both outstanding in allowing roads to be closed to host this year’s Hayman Classic, he said.
Hayman hinted strongly he would like to see the 2018 race expand into Osoyoos.
A road race up to Mount Baldy or up Richter Pass heading towards Keremeos are distinct possibilities as soon as next year, he said.
In 1972, Hayman was the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic team, having just turned 18.
He was a seven-time Canadian champion in road and track racing. He moved to Belgium in 1977 and became the top-ranked amateur cyclist in the country in 1979.
For full results of this year’s event, go to www.haymanclassic.ca