By Bradley Turcotte –
Hampton Avenue resident Matteo Dal-Cin made history earlier this month, becoming the first Canadian cyclist to win the overall title at the Redlands Classic, held annually in California for the last 35 years.
A member of the all-Canadian Silber Pro Cycling team, Matteo says he trained hard in the Eureka state during the months leading up to the event but admits his win came as an “unexpected” surprise.
There were some bumps in the road as the Silber team went into the race with a reduced squad, Matteo recalls, and his own performance didn’t go as smoothly as he had hoped.
“The fourth day I crashed twice in the last ten laps of the crit [criterium is a closed circuit track]. Fortunately in the crit they let you pop back in without losing any time. They give you a free lap but still, mentally, it was a bit taxing to have crashed twice. On the last one I jammed my hand up in the barriers and hurt it a bit so that was a bit nerve-wracking.”
Races like the Redlands and the Tour De France are comprised of several stages and each stage is tailored to different riders’ abilities, allowing athletes of different skill sets to win individual stages.
Matteo claimed the lowest aggregate time of all stages and realized he won the overall title while competing in the last stage race.
“I was excited but also had to try and refocus to try and do something for that individual day as well. It was a bit of an unusual experience,” Matteo says. “You have a lot of excitement and you kind of check out mentally but you’re still having to race for that day. I had to refocus pretty quickly.”
Silber Pro Cycling’s director, Gord Fraser, expects more victories from Matteo in the future, citing his focus and “work ethic both on and off the bike”
“He’s one of the hardest working athletes I’ve seen since I’ve started directing,” Fraser observes. “He also is a great team player…with Matteo’s progression with really only his second full season, I expect him to be a leader or go-to-guy for results in 2016 and the win in one of America’s most prestigious races only reinforces this role.”
The Canadian Nationals will take place in Ottawa later this year and Matteo’s father, Carlo, a former pro cyclist who Matteo credits with fostering his passion for sport, will be there to support his prodigious son.
At the age of six, Matteo began accompanying his father on long rides around the Rideau Canal. Carlo supported his son as he entered competitive races at the age of 14, acting as coach.
Matteo’s victory at the 2011 Preston Criterion remains especially memorable.
“For me that was a special win and it’s going to be a hard one to top because it takes place on Father’s Day and he’s part of the organizing committee,” Matteo reminisces. “So that just made for a really special feeling, winning that one.”
Sprinting ahead, Matteo would like to race more in Europe, especially Italian courses he describes as “phenomenal,” and is looking forward to the Philadelphia Cycling Classic and the Silver City Tour of the Gila, his favourite races of the year.