Among the participants at the 2014 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships in the Czech Republic next weekend will be four Canadians: two professional circus artists and two circus school students.

At ease centre stage and talented all-round performers, they are currently training in Germany with Kathrin Igel (Promotion Club Indoor Cycling) to perfect their technique and to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations of international artistic cycling competition. The German coach organises daily training sessions of four to six hours and also offers accommodation for these young athletes who are paying their own way to the World Championships.

“I think it’s very important to support and help other nations,” says Kathrin Igel. “I can see how difficult it is for them.”

Kathrin Igel’s collaboration with Canada’s athletes dates back to 2010 when two Canadian circus artists entered the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships for the first time, in Stuttgart. Impressed by the level of competition, they asked for some help from one of the sport’s leading nations, Germany.

Ever since, Kathrin Igel has regularly welcomed Canadian performers to her home in Kirchdorf, and has also travelled to Canada to help the country’s athletes. Last weekend she took the four Canadians to Oberhaching near Munich to join a training camp she was running for Bavarian artistic cyclists.

Juggling professional shows and competition

It is not easy for a professional performer to fit in preparation for the World Championships: Francis Gadbois had to interrupt his three weeks in Germany to return for a few days to Dubai where he is appearing in a show. Maxime Poulin, however, has been working under the watchful eye of Kathrin Igel since October 31st.

So what prompts an artist who spends the year travelling the world performing, who has won several awards and whose CV includes performances with the Cirque du Soleil, to try to slot the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships into his busy schedule?

“I gain so much experience each time,” says Maxime Poulin, who will be competing for the third consecutive year. “When I train in Germany I learn new movements and the emphasis is on perfection. Kathrin has taught me so much and pushed me to try things I was too scared to do. I love training here.”

Although fully aware he can’t be in the medals faced with the world’s best indoor cycling specialists, Maxime Poulin aims to, “keep getting better, learn more tricks and get more stable on my bike.”

As well as improving his own skills, he passes on his knowledge when teaching young artists back in Canada where he would love to see the sport of indoor cycling develop further.

Perhaps a small victory for the development of Canadian artistic cycling is the participation for the first time this year of two Canadian women in the World Championships: Clémence Bossé-Audet and Daphnée Delisle are both circus school students and will compete in the single women’s artistic cycling competition.

On Wednesday, Kathrin Igel will drive the four Canadians to Brno, Czech Republic, stopping off in Erlenbach to pick up three Hong Kong artistic cyclists who have been training with another German club, Förderverein Hallenradsport, hosted by the club’s chairman Rolf Halter.

Undoubtedly one of the world’s dominant artistic cycling nations, Germany is obviously not shy of sharing its experience and knowledge.

“I am extremely impressed that the Germans are so open and willing to help,” concludes Maxime Poulin.