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2012 Defi Sportif Alter-Ego to Kick-off 2012 Para-cycling Road Season

(Ottawa, ON – April 25, 2012) The 2012 Para-cycling road season is just around the corner, and the Canadian Para-cycling team is ready for this critical season, which will be highlighted by the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, in September.

The first road races of the 2012 season will be presented this weekend in Montréal, as part of the Défi Sportif Alter-Ego, with the road time trials on Friday and the traditional road races on Saturday, for all categories.

Arnaud Litou, para-cycling coordinator for the Canadian Cycling Association, is anxious for the season to get going and see the Canadian para-cyclist in action, after a short break from the competition.

“The Défi Sportif is a great multi-sport event supported by a incredible organizing team, which provides the opportunity for developing para-athletes to mingle with high performance athletes from Canada and abroad. Last year’s notorious performance by Marie-Eve Croteau allowed her to join the National team program, which translated to success as she won two World titles,” explained Litou.

“Despite a long pre-Paralympic season, we are looking forward to the start of the 2012 season in Montreal at the Défi sportif Alter Ego, specifically in order to assess the fitness level of some riders on the national team as well as to evaluate and discover new athletes from across Canada who have potential to join the national team, for London 2012 and/or Rio 2016, which in turn could highlight their passion for the sport and their potential,” added Litou.

There are many Canadians to watch this season, in all categories. Notably, the return for a second season from 2011 World Cup Champion and two-time 2011 World Champion Marie-Ève Croteau (Québec, QC) in the T2 tricycle category, a rare spectacle of world domination she showcased in her rookie season.

“My main goal for 2012 is undoubtedly the London Paralympic Games in September this year but to get there, I must continue my learning and gain as much race experience as possible by participating in various competitions,” commented Marie-Eve Croteau. “Obviously I also want to defend the jerseys, so I must take one step at a time, and knowing how to manage races.”

“The success in my first year came thanks to the teamwork from everyone involved. Yes, it is I who pushes the pedal on the tricycle, but I would not have had this success without the advice, explanations and field experience of my coach Eric Van den Eynde and the development coach Sébastien Travers, as well as for the entire support team,” added Croteau.

Croteau, who a year ago had never ridden a bike in competition, has surprised everyone in the cycling world by sweeping the World Cup title and both World Championships titles, in the time trials and in the road race.

The powerful and World Champion tandem of Robbi Weldon (Thunder Bay, ON) and Lyne Bessette (Knowlton, QC) is also anxious about the upcoming season. After finishing off the road season with a perfect four gold medals performance the Parapan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, the duo has been training and fine-tuning their form for the season.

Two-time 2011 World Champion Shelley Gauthier (Toronto, ON) will also be a contender for podium performances in the T1 tricycle category this season. As she received this season a new custom-made, light-weight tricycle for the road season, thanks to Cycles Marinoni, Shelley’s will faster than ever, even after winning both the road race and time trial titles at the World Championships last season.

Further, 2011 World silver medallist Marie-Claude Molnar (Ste-Adèle, QC) is back on the road, after winning the 2011 Pan-American Games gold medal in the pursuit, and in doing so setting the World record for the event. This winter, Molnar went on to win two medals at the 2012 Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles, thanks new equipment from Cervélo.

Mark Ledo(Maple, ON), bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships, will also be someone to watch throughout the season. At every race, Ledo is always a strong contender, and is continuing to improve race after race since making the switch from athletics to cycling.

Canada’s athletes are ready to go for another season, after spending countless hours training in the gym and on roads this winter. The season starts with the Defi Sportif, and then Canadian para-cyclists will travel the world on the UCI World Cup Tour, which ends in Baie-Comeau, Québec with the World Cup finals, in July. After a short but well deserved break, the Canadian athletes will then travel to London, UK for the Paralympic Games – the main event for which they have been so anxiously preparing and training.

source: Canadian Cycling Association