National cycling team to use Canadian-made Argon 18 bikes in multi-year deal

Gervais Rioux poses with the Argon 18 high-performance bicycle in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

MONTREAL — Nearly three decades after retirement, Gervais Rioux is back on Canada’s national cycling team — this time as a bike supplier.

Rioux’s company Argon 18 announced an agreement this week to become the official supplier to Cycling Canada for its road, track and para-cycling teams through the 2020 Olympics in Toyko.

The team was previously equipped with French-made Look bicycles.

"As a Canadian company, it was natural for us to become a sponsor of the team," Rioux said Thursday. "The possibility was there.

"I knew some people at (Cycling Canada) from when I was with the team, so it’s like a comeback with the team for me."

Argon 18 will deliver bikes over the next few months and hopes to have the squad fully equipped for the Commonwealth Games in April. It aims to keep improving the bikes to reach peak efficiency for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games.

The Montreal-based company Rioux founded with his brother Martin in 1989 already supplies Astana, the UCI World Tour team led by 2015 Tour of Spain winner Fabio Aru, as well as some continental teams.

Cycling Canada CEO Pierre Lafontaine lauded the agreement.

"Made in Canada is central to our identity and working with Argon 18 proves that our program and our athletes can be among the best in the world with homemade, home-dreamed and home-supported world class bikes," he said in a statement.

Argon 18, which has 40 employees, sells about 10,000 high-end racing bikes per year. Rioux said the company has 15 engineers working on bike design.

"I am confident that we will see a beautiful, slick Argon bike delivering us to the podium in 2020," said Craig Griffin, head coach for the women’s track endurance program.

Rioux won Canadian road race championships in 1985 and 1987 and competed for Canada at the 1988 Olympics as well as the 1982 and 1986 Commonwealth Games.