Cycling Canada’s NextGen program was launched in 2014 with the goal of helping young athletes develop and advance to the Elite National Team. By having access to a world-class training environment, talented coaches and experts and international races, young cyclists can quickly accelerate their progress and graduate to the highest ranks much quicker.
Ariane Bonhomme, member of the Women’s Track Endurance team, and sprinter Nick Wammes are both graduates of the NextGen program, which helped them achieve a huge career milestone by being selected for the Tokyo Olympics. No athlete’s journey is linear but Cycling Canada’s NextGen program has provided a pipeline to the National Team, helping Bonhomme and Wammes hone their talent and reach their potential.
NextGen launching athletes to the Olympics
Ariane Bonhomme was one of the very first members of Cycling Canada’s NextGen Women’s Track Endurance squad in 2015. The National Team had been a goal for Bonhomme and she was already training with the Elite squad as a Junior in 2014.
“It was hard for us to imagine how to bridge the gap,” Bonhomme said of making the leap to the Elite National Team. Then, in 2015, Bonhomme joined the new NextGen program. “It gave us an amazing platform to bridge to the Elite group. We were the priority of the coach, we were his focus and our goal was to make it to the Elite team.”
The importance of having a program focused on them allowed the young athletes in the NextGen program to thrive. “Having the resources, the coaching and even the funding to have a bike, physio, nutrition and a coach was so valuable. Being able to have our own plan separate from the Elite group, to train in California and our own training time in the velodrome in Milton helped us develop a strong program,” said Bonhomme.
Nick Wammes was a very promising but raw sprint talent as he came out of U17 and he became motivated to step up to the Elite National Team program. A big advantage of being a NextGen athlete was that Wammes immediately got exposed to the training environment of the senior team.
“It is a full-time training environment with staff and coaches seeing everything you do, pushing and motivating you. That was a big one, having that whole team around me,” said Wammes.
Another major element of the NextGen program that has continued to evolve over the years is giving development athletes access to big international races around the world. “I got to go race a UCI C1 in Portugal in 2018, that was my first really big step before I got a shot at the World Cup in New Zealand. Cycling Canada sent a development squad to the 2019 Pan American Games. There are lots of opportunities for NextGen athletes,” said Wammes.
The coaches have also had outstanding influences on the athletes. NextGen Track Endurance Coach Jenny Trew and Track Sprint Coach Franck Durivaux had big impacts on the development of Bonhomme and Wammes respectively.
“Having Franck there all the time, he put the same effort into all the athletes,” explained Wammes. Bonhomme had a similarly great experience with Trew. “I have always had a great relationship with Jenny and I think she really understands the sport because she used to do it. Having a woman as a coach for a women’s team is definitely really important, she’s honestly the perfect NextGen coach,” said Bonhomme.
The Canadian Women’s Track Endurance squad has a long history of success, winning back-to-back bronze medals in the Team Pursuit at the London and Rio Olympic Games. Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Bonhomme has moved up from NextGen to join the Elite team alongside Annie Foreman-Mackey and Olympic medallists Allison Beveridge, Georgia Simmerling and Jasmin Duehring.
“I think we are one of the strongest teams in the world. The team that went to London, to Rio and now Tokyo has been more or less comprised of the same girls,” explained Bonhomme. “The NextGen program is the perfect way to develop athletes in the coming years that will be ready for Paris, Los Angeles and the Games after that. Canada definitely has the potential to repeat those World Championship and Olympic performances.”
To learn more about the 2021 NextGen program, click here.