Kelly-Ann Way, an accomplished cyclist, was the first Canadian to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and the first North American of either gender to win a stage of that competition. A two-time Olympian, she raced for the Canadian National Cycling Team between 1983 and ’92.
Way was born in Windsor on September 18, 1964.
She was introduced to cycling at seven years of age by her parents, who were avid cyclists themselves. Brad Way, her brother, was a provincial sprint champion who qualified for national competition. In 1975, Way began to ride for Windsor Bicycle Club, where her coach was club President Father Gordon. An outstanding cyclist in his native Britain, Gordon turned down a professional cycling contract in 1955 in order to immigrate to Canada.
Under Gordon’s tutelage, Way began to enter Novice races in Ontario. In 1977, she became a licensed rider, which enabled her to compete in sanctioned races at the national and international levels. In ’79, she overcame Junior and Senior women to win her first Provincial Road Championship. In 1980, the fifteen-year-old Way travelled to Montreal to compete in her first national race.
By age 17, Way was a medal winner at the Canadian Nationals in Edmonton. At the 1982 event, she won a silver medal in the Individual Points Race and a bronze in the Individual Pursuit. The next year, she won the National Individual Pursuit at the Montreal Nationals and took a second gold in the Team Time Trials with Team Ontario, which also included Clara Hughes and Sue Palmer. She began to travel with the Canadian National Cycling Team that year.
In 1984, Way finished second at the Canadian Road Race Trials, which qualified her for the Los Angeles Olympics. For political reasons, Way was sent to her first of four Tours de France (she would also compete in ’85, ’87, and ’89) rather than Los Angeles. She suffered a separated shoulder after a fall during a mountain descent, but struggled through the final six days of the Tour to finish in 20th place. Had she not been injured, she was projected to finish in the top 10. Notably, she won the eighth stage of the Tour.
Way was able to represent Canada at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics in Seoul and Barcelona.
At the 1989 Tour de France, Way was famously the overall points leader for two days, ultimately finishing in 10th place.
She won a silver medal at the 1987 Pan American Games and the 1990 Commonwealth Games, and gold in the Tour of Tasmania in 1990. In 1991, she won the Canada National Pursuit Title and the Ronde des Mauges, a national race in France. In 1992, she won the Canadian Olympic Road Trials and Canadian Olympic Pursuit 3000-metre trials. Her time in the latter event remained a Canadian record at the time of her induction into the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame.
Way retired from competitive cycling in 1993 in order to concentrate on duathlons and triathlons. Over the course of her career in Canadian competition, Way won 28 gold medals (4 at the national level and 24 at the provincial level), 14 silver medals (7 national), and 6 bronze medals (4 national). On the international stage, she competed at 14 combined Road and Track World Championships and four Tours de France (1984, ’85, ’87, and ’89).
The Ontario Cycling Association named Way Sportswoman of the Year in 1984, ’85, ’86, ’89, and ’90. She was Ontario Sportswoman of the Year runner-up in ’89.
Outside of cycling, Way attended Centennial High School between 1979 and ’83, where she stood out as a swimmer. Way competed for the school’s swim team from Grade 10 to Grade 13, qualifying for the OFSAA All-Ontario Championships during her final two years. She won WSSA gold in Grade 12 in the individual medley and breaststroke.
After high school, she attended the University of Windsor from 1983 to ’87, leaving with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics degree with Honours in Kinesiology. She is a Registered Massage Therapist.
She was presented with the key to the City of Windsor in 1989.