The Central Alberta stage of the Tour of Alberta is ready to welcome the best in the cycling world.
The elite athletes will be in action along 145 km of paved and country roads from Innisfail to Sylvan Lake, ending in Red Deer today. It is the second leg of the tour, which started in Calgary with the time trial Tuesday and ends in Edmonton on Sunday.
Surina Carloni, Innisfail organizing committee, said everything is in place and the town is ready to party.
Last week organizers were worried about having enough volunteers but the community came through.
The 75 or so volunteers will be doing everything from putting up barricades, crowd control and manning the festival.
“We’re ready to go,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting. Hopefully it doesn’t snow but it’s supposed to be really nice tomorrow (Thursday).”
The action-filled day starts in Innisfail around 11 a.m. and wraps up around 3 p.m.
In Red Deer, organizers are anxious to showcase the city to the world for the second time in the event’s two-year history.
“We’re 100 per cent ready,” said George Berry, Red Deer’s local organizing chairman. “Bring it on.”
Berry said the 120 or so volunteers have been prepped and are ready to bring the fun to downtown Red Deer. They will oversee the festival area, looking after the riders and media, course marshals and parking lot patrols.
The festival at Ross Street from 47th Avenue to 49th Avenue also kicks off at 11 a.m.
“As long as the riders co-operate and show up on time, we’re going to have a blast all afternoon,” said Berry.
Cyclists will enter the city at about 2:30 p.m. on Hwy 11, turn south on 30th Avenue to Ross Street, head west on Ross Street, head west on Ross Street and will enter the downtown loop at the corner of Ross Street and 40th Avenue. They are expected to enter the downtown loop around 3 p.m. and finish around 3:30 p.m.
“We hope to see big crowds,” said Berry.
Last year’s inaugural event drew thousands to downtown Red Deer.
Before the riders arrive there will be something for the whole family to enjoy at the festival. While there’s beer gardens and live music for the adults, there’s a bike parade for children ages three to five at 11 a.m.
Children are encouraged to dress up and decorate their bike for the parade.
Following the parade will be time trial bicycle skills course for children ages six to 14. Children will be challenged to maneuver through the outlined obstacle course. Prizes will be awarded for the best time in each age group.
Road closure information is available on the city’s website at www.reddeer.ca