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Trio of local athletes shine on world stage (4 photos)

Trio of local athletes shine on world stage (4 photos)

Orillia’s Ava Holmgren, right, celebrates her first podium finish at a World Cup race, finishing third in the event in Belgium that featured the world’s…

Sunday, Jan 15

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Orillia’s Ava Holmgren, right, celebrates her first podium finish at a World Cup race, finishing third in the event in Belgium that featured the world’s top cyclocross athletes. For elite-level cyclocross athletes, the Christmas break is anything but a respite.

For these passionate and talented cyclists looking to climb the ultra-competitive world rankings, it’s one of the most intense stretches of the year.

That was the case for a trio of local athletes — twin sisters Ava and Isabella Holmgren and Ian Ackert, all from Orillia — who helped Canada make a mark on the international cyclocross stage.

The trio are members of the Stimulus Orbea Cycling Team that surpassed all expectations at Kerstperiode, a series of elite races between Christmas and New Year’s in Europe.

Each of the Orillia athletes delivered podium performances, racing in seven races over the two-week period, supported by Cycling Canada.

The goal of the team was to gain experience on the highly technical European courses while learning to repeatedly perform their best against the highest level of competition, noted Cycling Canada’s head cyclocross coach, Rob Holmgren.

They did just that — and more.The team started and finished their two-week campaign with World Cups and earned podium finishes in both, which is a remarkable feat for a Canadian in a sport dominated by Europeans.The Stimulus Orbea teammates were the only Canadians to reach the podium. In some of the races, the junior women were required to race with the elite women as they did not hold a separate event.The results […]

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