Building bridges to inspire tomorrow’s cycling
Three different backgrounds
One shared passion for the sport
Matisse Julien, 19, member of the Premier Tech U23 Cycling Project, is considered one of Québec’s top hopes in road racing. Elizabeth Dupuis, two-time Québec champion, is a 10-year-old atom-level cyclist in the Espoir Premier Tech club in Québec. Hugo Houle, 31, is a professional cyclist since 2011 and a member of the UCI World Tour team for Israel – Premier Tech.
The idea behind this encounter? Allow three generations of cyclists to share and connect over their sport. A friendly get-together in a fun and laid-back atmosphere that allowed the athletes to share stories, ask questions, and assess the many things they have in common — such as how they came to love cycling, which all three say is due to their very sports-minded parents.
E : How old were you when you started biking?
M : I’d say 11, but I would follow my dad who did triathlons a bit before that, so I’d already cycled in a children’s triathlon. When I joined the Club Espoir Laval, I was 11!
H : Elizabeth, do you ride faster than your dad or does he manage to keep up?
E : Well (laughs), let’s just say that he has more speeds than I do, but if we had the same ring*, maybe I’d be faster!
H : Give yourself a few more years! I remember, that was always the challenge — when was I going to get him [my dad] off my tail? It took a few years, but it happened! (laughs)
* The chainring is a component of the pedal system. It is circular with notches for the chain that transmits the rotational movement to the bicycle wheel. Chainrings differ in thickness, number of teeth, how they attach to the spider.
They also talked about their hopes and dreams:
H : Elizabeth, is it your dream to become a professional cyclist or do you just ride for fun?
E : For now it’s just for fun, but maybe later I’d like to become a professional cyclist [...]. If I still like it [...]. As long as I like it, I could go on forever!
H : Even when you’re a pro, it’s important to remember to have fun and that you’re lucky to be there. I think you’ve got it right!
H : And Matisse, what’s your dream? What makes you give it your all, today or down the road?
M : I eventually want to go professional — Continental or World Tour. It’s my dream to be able to say “I’m a cyclist, that’s my job” [...]. Shorter term, I would say I want to gain experience [...].
It was also an opportunity to talk about the programs and training that Premier Tech supports and what that means for their respective careers:
H : I’d like to know what kind of impact a project like the U23 program has had on your career? You’re 19, you’re in Europe right now, and it’s a chance to gain experience. How is that important in your development as a cyclist?
M : It’s a huge start and it makes a big difference! Ever since I was young, I’ve had my eye on race programs based mainly in North America... and I saw that as a big goal when I was a cadet [...]. Having the opportunity to stay here almost year-round, to race, to train with guys who speak the same language as me, who have the same experience, who are 3 4 thousand kilometres away from home like me — it’s really big. This is something that will really help us as a group and help Québec cycling [...]. A project like this is one of the only ways for cyclists from Québec and elsewhere in Canada to break through.
H : Nice answer!
M : Hugo, I was wondering, how are Grand Tours structured? What’s it like behind the scenes, like at Israel – Premier Tech?
H : I’d say it depends on the team… There are different levels of World Tour teams... There are eight of us riding on the Grand Tours now, plus another 30 people or so who are there just to take care of us! There’s a cook, six massage therapists, four mechanics, four sports directors, communications officers, a doctor, an osteopath [...]. That’s off the top of my head, but there are many people! There’s a food truck, a mechanical truck... In total, about ten vehicles that travel with us [...]. Cycling is becoming more and more professional, and there are more and more people accompanying us!
Their time together also produced some great spontaneous moments, like this one:
M : Elizabeth, I’ve heard you’ve done races before. Is there a race in the Espoir Circuit that’s already your favourite? Because I remember the Trois-Rivières criterium in Québec...
Enthusiastically, before he finishes asking the question:
E : Me too! There’s a little candy shop you can go to after every race and there’s lots of cool stuff there! It’s cool. You’re in town, it’s fun. [...] the course is pretty flat and there are a few small hills [...].
A little reward after all that hard work!
Watch the full video right here — this discussion is in French:
This story is from the Premier Tech Report 2022.
Discover it now: www.premiertech.com/annual-report