Top competitors to cycle in Red Deer
Some of the best in the cycling world will race to Red Deer as part of the inaugural Tour of Alberta Pro Cycling Event in September.
The host communities for Alberta’s first international professional cycling event were revealed in Red Deer on Tuesday. The five-stage race begins on Sept. 3 in Edmonton and wraps up on Sept. 8 in Calgary.
Red Deer will host the Stage 2 finish on Sept. 5, when cyclists will ride in from Devon, 185 kilometres north of Red Deer.
The Red Deer route will be finalized in the next few days. The route will be announced officially in April.
Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the city is absolutely delighted that Red Deer was chosen as one of the stops on the tour.
“As an active bike community, we have just initiated a bike lane pilot,” Flewwelling said at the press conference. “We are in the thrones of adapting our community to commuter cycling. We have always been in recreation cycling. Now we’re in commuter cycling. This couldn’t come at a better time. Another part that makes it absolutely perfect for us is that this is the year we are celebrating our 100th anniversary as a city . . . We will always be able to remember the first annual Tour of Alberta happened in our centennial year.”
Flewwelling added the city is a seasoned host at putting on huge events like the Brier, Memorial Cup and Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“We have a wonderful volunteer community here,” said Flewwelling. “We are delighted to showcase our community to the entire world in this whole new venture for us. It will have a huge economic but also cultural spinoff for our community.”
Over the next day or so, the 11 host communities will participate in a symposium in Red Deer to learn more about their responsibilities and logistics of the race. The city has committed to $77,000 help with the logistics.
George Berry, local organizing chairman for the Red Deer stage, said the biggest thing about this is race is that it is going to be a cultural event. Berry said it would be relatively easy to bring a bike race to Alberta but the committee will be working with the city, Red Deer County, local school boards and various groups to make it a true cultural event highlighting what Central Alberta has to offer.
“There’s going to be a huge call for volunteers here,” said Berry. “We will be looking at needing a couple hundred volunteers just in the Red Deer area alone.”
Each host community will put on a festival with activities related to fitness, food and education displays. There will also be a chance to mingle with the athletes.
An estimated 15 professional cycling teams with eight riders per team, from more than 20 countries, are expected to compete. Teams will be announced in the coming months.
The festivals will be unique in each community, reflecting the local character and attractions.
Brian Jolly, chairman of the Alberta Peloton Association, organizers of the event, said they hope to have the race in Alberta for several years in the future. Jolly said they chose a route and communities with strong reputation for hosting cultural and community events. Jolly said there was a long list of communities to choose from and there will be opportunities for communities that were not selected this year.
The race kicks off in Edmonton on Sept. 3 with a prologue, a short time trial to determine who wears the leading jersey on the first stage. Stage 1 of the five-staged race will begin in Strathcona Country and finish in Camrose. On the third day, Stage 2 begins in Devon and ends in Red Deer. Stage 3 begins in Strathmore and finishes in Drumheller. The fourth stage begins in Black Diamond and ends in Canmore. The final stage begins in Okotoks and ends in Calgary.