Red Deer crowd thrilled by Tour of Alberta
Central Alberta cycling fans were not disappointed.
When the best of the best in cycling hit Red Deer’s Ross Street on Thursday, fans were lined up two deep to catch the pedal action.
Dressed in a cycling jersey, Brian Daudlin of Red Deer was one of the first to secure a spot near the finish line.
Daudlin said he is a huge Tour de France fan and the Tour of Alberta was icing on the cake. He said seeing this calibre of cyclists in person was outstanding and larger than life.
“It’s kind of ironic given all the acrimony with the cycling with the bike lanes in Red Deer that we are hosting a professional cycling race,” said Daudlin.
“Maybe people will get to see the benefits of cycling and get turned on and make some progress with that bike lane issue.”
A huge fan of Slovak Peter Sagan, Jenn Turcott of Calgary was also one of the first lining up to see the professional cyclists.
Turcott said this race is a huge opportunity for cycling in Alberta. Turcott, a competitive cyclist, said this will help promote cycling in the province. She will move on to watch the start of the next stage in Strathmore and then the start and finish in Black Diamond.
“I am really hoping it will boost the exposure in this province,” said Turcott of the race, which started in Edmonton on Tuesday and wraps up in Calgary on Sunday. “For people to see this calibre of athletes, I hope it will encourage more and more people to get involved. And more awareness of people on the road.”
Turcott said cycling is one of the only professional sports in the world where spectators do not have to pay to watch the event.
“You can bring your whole family, free of charge, to watch world-class athletes,” she said. “You can’t do that in any other sport.”
Paul McIver said this is awesome and better than having National Hockey League in Red Deer.
“This is big,” said McIver, who was cheering for the three Canadians in the race. “I hope they keep it.”
Before the race, cyclist Dave Hill was checking out the festival before heading to Michener Hill to watch all the action.
Hill said this type of event is a huge boost to the cycling community and the economy in Central Alberta. Hill said this professional event may get more people thinking about jumping on a bike.
Volunteer Wendy Henry didn’t realize the significance of the race when she signed up to lend a hand. Henry said she has learned a lot about professional racing, something she never gave a second thought to.
She said the event may just turn her into a cycling fan.