For future Canadian cyclists like Steve Bauer, Clara Hughes and Alison Sydor, Guelph’s Egidio Bolzon was a trailblazer in Canadian Road Racing.
Bolzon, who immigrated to Canada from Italy in 1956, had an immediate impact on the Canadian cycling scene. He was the first champion of the inaugural Canadian National Road Cycling Championship in 1959. He would become the first multiple champion of the national event when he won again in 1962. Only three cyclists in Canadian history have won the event more than Bolzon.
Bolzon’s performance in 1959 put him on the Canadian Olympic Association’s radar. He indeed qualified to compete for Canada at the 1960 Rome summer Olympics, but was ruled ineligible because he was still under landed immigrant status, only one year short of becoming a full-fledged Canadian citizen. Imagine the thrill that would have been to go back to Italy as a Canadian Olympian. But the disappointment didn’t dampen his competitive spirit. In 1961 he was the champion of the 600-mile, 8-stage Tour Du St. Laurent in Quebec. That year he also represented Canada in the 1961 Tour de l’Avenir, a race for semi-professionals and amateurs that ran simultaneously with the Tour de France over the same course. (This race became a stepping-stone for future multiple Tour de France winners like Greg LeMond and Miguel Indurain). Bolzon competed three times in the Quebec to Montreal road race finishing second twice, and third once.
In all, from 1959-1963, Bolzon competed in over 150 road cycling races in the elite, semi-professional class throughout Ontario, Quebec, Italy, France and the United States with many first place and top ten finishes. Without a doubt Bolzon is one of the greatest road cyclists that the city of Guelph has ever produced.
Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Veteran Athlete category – on June 10, 2015