Friday, June 18, 2010

Cycling stars ride against cancer

Top-notch pro cyclists Svein Tuft and Christian Meier have come home from Europe to ride July's Yaletown Grand Prix and B.C. Superweek.

But for the two Garmin-Transitions riders, there's important business to take care of this weekend.
White Rock's Meier will ride in the Vancouver-to-Seattle Ride to Conquer Cancer this Saturday and Sunday. On Monday Langley's Tuft will join Meier and a handful of riders from the Vancouver-based Wedgewood Cycling Team in Seattle for a one-day, 260-kilometre Journey Home ride to raise even more money for the fight against cancer.

Wedgewood started the Journey Home ride last year. This year it's in the memory of Christian's brother Michael, who died of brain cancer last year. Michael Meier was a week shy of his 26th birthday when he died. He was married with two young children.

"It happened rapidly," said Christian Meier, now 25, who was riding in the Vuelta a Espana with his Garmin team when his brother passed away. "He woke up one morning with a terrible headache, went to the hospital and two days later he was in surgery to have a brain tumour removed. He went into surgery in March and in September he had passed away.

"It was quite a shock to the family," continued Meier. "For me it really hit home and I decided I wanted to do something. If I can help in any way to eliminate or reduce that pain, it's the least anyone can do."

Last November, two months after his brother died, Meier got a tattoo on his arm that said 'Last Chance.' The message was that you really never know when you're getting your last chance to do something.

His team for the Ride to Conquer Cancer is called Team Last Chance. He'll be joined by former Symmetrics Racing teammate Dylan Sebal, of Mission, and a friend, Shari Jay from Ontario.
Meier and Wedgewood team leader Philip Meyer sent emails around the cycling community asking for support. Riders donated signed jerseys which are for sale on the Wedgewood website ( fixed price or by auction.

"My Garmin teammates -- David Miller, David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde -- signed jerseys," said Meier. "We have a book signed by Lance Armstrong. A signed jersey from Eddy Merckx.

"It was incredible to see how many people donated things. We have jerseys from the Saxo Bank team and Team Sky."

Meier, the 2008 Canadian road champion, and Tuft are riding in the Canadian championships June 25 and 27 in Edmonton. Meier will ride the Yaletown criterium on July 1 and then do the Tour de Delta July 9-11. Tuft will likely ride Yaletown, Delta and the Tour de White Rock Superweek finale, July 16-18.

Both riders have been frequent pedallers this season. Among others Meier rode the Paris-Nice and Liege-Bastogne-Liege races. He's scheduled to do the 2010 Vuelta a Espana.

Tuft, a silver medallist in the individual time trial at the 2009 world championships and a seventh-place finisher in that event at the 2008 Olympics, rode the Giro d'Italia this spring.

But this weekend is about riding to beat cancer. Anyone wanting to either donate or get more information can see the Ride to Conquer Cancer website (

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