By Martin Cleary
Professional cyclist Matteo Dal-Cin is wearing a new team jersey in 2022 and he’s riding like a champion rather than a domestique.
Since joining the six-year-old Toronto Hustle team six months ago, the Ottawa athlete has produced some applause-worthy results on international road courses in Greece and the United States.
The next big step for Dal-Cin, 31, will be this week’s Canadian road cycling championships in Edmonton as he seeks another national title. Dal-Cin was the Canadian men’s road champion in 2017 in Ottawa.
The Hustle has decided to push the limits of its commitment to professional cycling by stepping up and becoming a UCI Continental team. The team will have an all-Canadian roster of 11 riders and will focus on Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) calendar races in North America.
“I’m thrilled to be embarking on the 2022 season with a team stacked with young talent that will be competitive at every race we toe the line,” Dal-Cin told Cyclingnews in January. “It’s exciting to be on a team where we will be going for results and where I can share my experiences from racing in North America and overseas.”
Dal-Cin has been a professional cyclist since 2014, when he joined Silber Pro Cycling and raced his first three seasons. He spent the past five seasons with Rally Pro Cycling.
“I’m also really looking forward to returning to racing in North America, after a tough couple of years with races (and) trying to navigate the pandemic. It’s exciting to be a part of something that will hopefully be a revival season for North American racing,” he added.
Dal-Cin raced primarily in Europe during the past four seasons for Rally. He earned that promotion based on his strong North American results. In 2017, he was second overall in the Tour de Beauce, won the Canadian road championship at home and was ninth overall in the Tour of the Gila. He also was the 2015 Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay champion.
While Dal-Cin impressively started this inaugural season with the Hustle in March racing in Greece, he also was a noticeable force in two stage races in the United States this spring.
In mid-March at the two-stage South Aegean Tour in Greece, which attracted more than 100 riders, he was second in Stage 1 and first in Stage 2 to win the general classification overall title by six seconds in eight hours, 29 minutes, 18 seconds.
Dal-Cin also was 10th at the one-day International Rhodes Grand Prix and followed that with a 15th overall result in the four-stage International Tour of Rhodes.
A month later in the U.S, he was a team leader for the Hustle, placing second overall and seventh in the mountains classification at the five-stage Tour of the Gila.
Dal-Cin was a cyclist to watch in the first three stages, finishing third, fifth and second respectively. He finished 19th in stage 4 and eighth in stage 5 for a total time of 12:58:04, which left him four seconds behind winner Sean Gardner of the U.S.
“I’m super proud of the guys. They hung it out there for me today all across the board, keeping the break in check, pacing up the climbs, making sure I was fed and watered,” Dal-Cin said, after the Tour of the Gila.
“Halfway up the Monster there, I think two or three of the Canel ZEROUNO’s guys and Sean hit out, and I was really cramping up, really on the ropes, so I just did my best to ride my tempo and hope I could rally at the top and maybe my legs would come around.
“I was nursing some pretty good cramps. I gave it everything in the chase and I was so spent in the end. No complaints, left it all on the road and the stronger man won today.”
At the Joe Martin Stage Race in the second half of May, Dal-Cin couldn’t crack the top 10 in any of his four races and was 24th overall.
Dal-Cin’s next scheduled competition will be the Canadian championships, which will run Thursday through Monday, in the Alberta capital. For the elite men and elite women, the individual time trials are Thursday, the respective 160.6-kilometre and 116.8-kilometre road races are Sunday and the criteriums are Monday.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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