January 1/05 6:13 am - Canadian Cyclist of the Year Awards
Posted by Editor on 01/1/05
2004 Canadian Cyclist of the Year Awards
We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2004 Canadian Cyclist of the Year Awards. This year is the eighth annual presentation of these awards, and the competition was one of the closest ever. After thousands of ballots, the voting closed on January 1st. We then tallied the ballots for the three categories - Male Canadian Cyclist, Female Canadian Cyclist, and Best Individual Performance of the Year. We have also decided upon the winners for two other categories - Roger Sumner Award (Best Newcomer) and Worst Luck Award.
And the winners are...
Canadian Cyclist of the Year - Female
Lori-Anne Muenzer - Edmonton, Alberta
Lori-Ann Muenzer started the year with a bronze medal at the Track World Championships in the Match Sprint, took bronze (Sprint) and silver (500M) medals at the World Cup Final, and repeated as National champion in the Sprint and 500 Metre Time Trial. However, it was her amazing performance at the Olympic Games, winning Canada's first ever Olympic Gold medal in cycling, in the Sprint competition, which really put Lori-Ann in the history books.
Lori-Ann is the first ever track cyclist to win a Canadian Cyclist of the Year award, and she had to beat out two former CC Award winners to take the title - last year's winner, Marie-Helene Premont (who won a silver medal in Athens, plus finished second overall in the World Cup overall standings), and Alison Sydor (4th at the Olympics, Bronze medal at the World Championships, and 3rd overall in the international world rankings).
With two days of voting remaining, Lori-Ann led Marie-Helene by a mere six votes, and the final tally saw the Olympic champion win by just 2.5% of the votes cast - 45.6% to Premont's 43.1%. Sydor finished third with 11% of the votes submitted.
Canadian Cyclist of the Year - Male
Michael Barry - Toronto, Ontario
In 2003, Michael Barry finished seventh in the men's road race at the World Championships in Hamilton, Ontario, and won our Best Individual Performance award. In 2004, he proved that his breakthrough performance in Hamilton was no fluke, by finishing seventh in the Championship of Zurich World Cup, by riding as a member of the U.S. Postal squad at the Vuelta Espana which won the Team Time Trial stage, and by finishing 32nd in the Olympic road race, after a bold solo attack in the final kilometres, which could have garnered him a bronze medal (Belgian Axel Merckx, who counter-attacked after Barry was brought back, did stay away to take the bronze medal). Michael Barry is the highest ranked Canadian rider in the international professional road rankings for men. Barry recently re-signed with Lance Armstrong's Discovery cycling team.
Throughout the balloting, Barry was closely trailed by Geoff Kabush, winner of the Norba National series, and national cyclo-cross champion. Barry finished with 37.5% of the vote, followed by Kabush at 33.9%. National road champion Gord Fraser was third (20.2%), and Olympian Seamus McGrath received 8.4% of votes cast.
Canadian Cyclist of the Year - Best Individual Performance
Lori-Ann Muenzer - Edmonton, Alberta
There was little doubt who would win this award! Muenzer, who delivered Canada's first ever Olympic Gold medal for cycling in Athens, took a whopping 45.9% of the votes cast for her gold medal ride. By comparison, Marie-Helene Premont (Olympic silver medal) and Charles Dionne (San Francisco T-mobile International road race) tied for a distant second, each with 14.5% of ballots cast.
Muenzer overcame punctures to both her race wheels during the sprint heats, and meticulously (almost surgically) picked off her opponents as she worked her way up to the gold medal final. I was photographing the event, and before the start of the final ride I had to take a few deep breaths to stop my hands from shaking!
Canadian Cyclist of the Year - Roger Sumner Award
Raphael Gagne - Quebec
The Roger Sumner Award, for the Best Newcomer, is named after long time cycling coach, manager and supporter of Canadian cycling, Roger Sumner, who passed away in December of 2000, after being hit by a car while cycling.
This year the Roger Sumner Award goes to Junior mountain bike racer Raphael Gagne. Raphael was a member of the Canadian Team Relay squad, which won the World title in Les Gets, France. He also finished seventh in the Junior Men's cross-country at the Worlds, won the National title, and the overall Canada Cup title, after winning five out of five events. This young rider has a very promising future.
Canadian Cyclist of the Year - Worst Luck Award
Ryder Hesjedal - Victoria, BC
Ryder Hesjedal was one of the favourites to medal in the men's cross-country at the Olympics, and spent his entire season to that point preparing specifically for that race. Less than 150 metres into the race, at the end of the start loop, he was squeezed out and crashed as riders bunched up going through the start-finish area. By the end of the first climb, he was back up to fifth place, and then crashed in loose gravel, puncturing his rear tire, and damaging the bead. So, halfway into the first lap, Ryder Hesjedal was out of the Olympic race.