August 24, 2008

Christian Meier, Steven Cozza, Volta a Portugal stage 2Above in the red Canadian national champion jersey is Christian Meier, just to the left of Steven Cozza.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Christian Meier. I am 23 years old, from Canada and am a stagiaire with Team Garmin-Chipolte H3O. What is that you say? A stagi what? A stagiaire (French for ‘trainee’) is a younger rider that a team takes on in the later part of the season, usually for a couple reasons. The team may be interested in hiring the rider for the upcoming season (which is what all we stagiaires hope for) and they want to give you a test run to see how you get on with the team. Or, in other cases, they just need a couple riders to fill out rosters for the last half of the season as riders are tired or injured. Either way, it is a great way for a young rider to get a feel for the highest ranks of racing and gain some valuable experience.

As for myself, I started my stagiaire experience in August and am just finishing my first race with the team – the notoriously hard Tour of Portugal. Heading into the today’s final time trial, I have to say I am happy with the experience. The race definitely lived up to the hype of being “probably one of the hardest races you’ll ever do.” Making it through the race while being able to help the team with domestique duties has already made me a much better rider.

There was definitely a bit of awe for me coming to Team Garmin-Chipotle from the much smaller Symmetrics team. Like the first time I visited the team’s service course, driving to the race in the huge team bus, and having 8 staff members to take care of 7 riders. My teammates have been really welcoming. Already knowing some of them from racing has made the transition one of the easiest I have ever experienced. We have had a lot of fun here in Portugal, joking around at the dinner table but always racing hard.

Anyhow, I need to get prepped for the final stage here in Portugal, a 30 km solo test againt time.