Tour of Alberta to skip Red Deer in 2015

Red Deer won’t be on the Tour of Alberta route in 2015.

Red Deer won’t be on the Tour of Alberta route in 2015.

The professional bicycle event has been through Red Deer in each of its first two years, but Red Deer won’t be part of the third installment of the world-class race. The decision was not unexpected.

Local organizers, however, expect Central Alberta’s absence will not be a permanent one.

“It’s just a matter of (the tour) giving everybody in the province the opportunity to see this calibre of racing coming into their communities,” said local organizing committee chairman George Berry.

The tour is taking a Northern Alberta mountain route this year with announced stops in Grande Prairie, Grande Cache, Jasper, Spruce Grove and Edmonton, from Sept. 2 to 7.

Plans are being discussed for a Southern Alberta route in 2016 that could include a Red Deer stage once again, although nothing has been decided.

“As a provincewide event whose route changes each year, we are thrilled to bring this world-class event to so many new host communities in 2015,” said Alberta Peloton Association chairman Brian Jolly in a press release. “As a part of this northern route, we are able to include a true mountain stage for the first time ever. This aspect is crucial as the Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial continues to gain momentum in the international professional cycling community.

“We are already looking forward to a tour focused primarily in Southern Alberta in 2016.”

Red Deer has been a stop in each of the first two years of the tour, which attracts many of the top cyclists on the planet. In 2014, an estimated 10,000 people watched the local stage live while there was a worldwide viewership of about 45.5 million people with the race being broadcast in places like Australia, Europe and China,

“Over the last two years, we’ve put on a top-quality event and the tour was talking about that it raised the bar and the expectations for the cyclists and the public to another level,” said Berry, noting they had a volunteer force of about 250 people to host the race.

“As with any event that happens in Red Deer when we put on, it doesn’t take a back seat to anybody that we try to do it the best and world class, and it truly was. It will come back to Red Deer, we know that.”

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