Kirsipuu, Hamilton Community Backed Estonians

News & Results

10/15/2003| 0 comments
by David Cohen

Kirsipuu, Hamilton Community Backed Estonians

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Estonia
is a small country, with a population of 1.3 million.  But its cycling tradition stretches back 120 years. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

The leading light of Estonian cycling now -- and indeed a major figure in international cycling ? is Jaan Kirsipuu, ranked 18th in the word in 2003 and winner of stages in the Tour de France in 1992, 2001, and 2002.

 

Kirsipuu, who rides for the AG2R Prevoyance team, decided to pass on the 2003 World Championships because he considered the up-and-down
Hamilton
course unsuited to his sprinting abilities.

 

But he still wanted to promote Estonian chances in this year?s worlds.

 

Kirsipuu was concerned that younger Estonian riders have an opportunity to race in
Hamilton
.

 

So he decided to personally sponsor three young women to make the trip to Hamilton -- Kata-Lina Normak, Ly Paat, and Laura Lepasalu.

 

Meanwhile, here in
Hamilton
, the Estonian community prepared to welcome their countrymen and women.

 

At the centre of this community is the
First
Estonian
Church
and its pastor Rev. Hannes Aasa.  Rev. Aasa took on the title of National Technical Team Director of the Estonian team.  This meant, basically, mobilizing the community to welcome and make the team feel comfortable in
Hamilton
.

 

?We organized billeting and then people organized lunches, breakfasts and dinners,?  Rev. Aasa said.  ?We too members of the on drives to places in an around
Hamilton
.  There was very little they had to concern themselves about; they could concentrate solely on training.?

 

This tender loving care paid off.

 

Ly Paat came through with a very creditable 26th place finish in the Junior Women?s road race.  Kata-Lina Normak, though 42nd, finished the tough grind.

 

The community, however, got a very special boost in the Men?s Elite race when Janek Tombak (a member of the Cofidis team) finished a surprising 10th.  He was sandwiched between two big names ?
Spain
?s Oscar Freire who came in 9th and no less than
Germany
?s Erik Zabel who finished 11th.

 

?Erik Zabel, he beat Erik Zabel ? that?s something!?  enthused Andres Gutman, an expatriate Estonian who lives in
Toronto
.

 

Rev.  Aasa said tears flowed when the young Estonian women departed on Sunday.  ?They were very emotional ? very touched by the welcome they received here.?

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