Builders : The Baril Clan
The Baril Clan
Cycling has always been a religion in the Baril family. Seven of them participated as runners. Brothers Robert, Michel and Claude, son of Marcel, participated in 12 editions between 1973 and 1979. It was Robert who achieved the best results with a stage victory in 1976 in addition to winning the Combativity Award at the same edition and a seventh place overall. That same year, his brother Michel finished 11th.
Alain, François and Serge, André’s sons, had fewer entries than their cousins, but were no less diligent in the various editions of the Tour, strongly encouraged by the father.
As for Jacques, son of Jean-Claude, his presence was brief at the Tour, but he was very present at the regional races. He then went on as a volunteer for about ten years. Just like Guy and Jean-Yves who were mainly involved in universal troubleshooting.
Sisters Nicole and Charlotte become very young volunteers, while their cousin Richard joins the Tour as a driver. For her part, Olivia, daughter of Jean-Yves, will also be a hostess a few years before becoming a top athlete. In cycling, of course.
In total, there are at least 15 Baril in the history of the Tour. Maybe even a few more.
Cyclists : Gérald Rocheleau and Alex Stieda
Gérald Rocheleau, champion of the first ever Tour de l’Abitibi in 1969, was inducted into the Tour Hall of Fame. It was in Malartic that he received this honour on July 18th, 2019, at the same place where he too started 50 years ago to Rouyn-Noranda.
The cyclist from the south shore of Montreal was the first to cross the finish line of the first stage in 1969 that linked Amos and Val d’Or. Mr. Rocheleau then climbed back to the top of the podium twice, earning him the title of first Tour champion, 50 seconds behind Robert Van den Eynde, as well as being the best climber.
“I was a young boy,” rocheleau recalls. “It was the first time I’d done a Tour like this,” he says, somewhat surprised to receive an honour after all these years. “When the Tour was 25 years old, when Léandre Normand contacted me to write his book, I realized that I had won something big,” he says.
Gérald Rocheleau rode at the competitive level for 4 years mainly in the Montreal area. Even though his best years of cycling are behind him, Gérald Rocheleau is still in the saddle, 50 years after winning his championship title. It still crosses between 1000 km and 2000 km per year.
Alex Stieda, a native of British Columbia, affectionately known as “Stieda the Magnificent,” competed in the Tour de l’Abitibi in 1979 and 1980.
In his first appearance, he was content with only one victory in the individual time trial. He returned in force the following year and became the first rider in the history of the Tour to wear the brown jersey from the beginning to the end of the race. Better yet, he is the only one to have appropriated the brown and orange jerseys and the title of champion climber in surplus in the same edition.
In addition to these peaks, Stieda still holds the record for the most career stage wins and consecutive victories nearly 40 years later.
Continuing his exploits in Abitibi, he became a few years later, in 1986, the first North American to wear the famous yellow jersey of the Tour de France.
Partners : City of Rouyn-Noranda
The city of Rouyn-Noranda was the host city for the first time in 1974 and hosted the Tour for the ninth time in 2019.
Since the days of the Leblanc, Villeneuve, Sigouin in the sixties, the city of Rouyn-Noranda, its leaders and the population have always been present in support of the Tour.
A growing commitment that took place in 2011, when Rouyn-Noranda and Amos agreed to take over the City of Val d’Or. This mobilization helped to ensure the sustainability of the Tour and to restore the regional dimension to the event.
The contribution of cities is neuralgic. The support of elected officials as well as the collaboration of several municipal services the Tour simply could not take place. To pay tribute to the hundreds of volunteers, municipal employees and various municipal councils involved over the years, the Tour de l’Abitibi has inducted the City of Rouyn-Noranda into the Hall of Fame.