A true Central Alberta stage of the province’s only elite cycling competition could see the world’s best in Innisfail, Sylvan Lake and Red Deer.
The Tour of Alberta announced the seven hosting communities — Calgary, Edmonton, Innisfail, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Wetaskiwin — for the six-day staged race on Wednesday.
The race will start in Calgary with a prologue and time trial on Sept. 2 and wrap up Edmonton in Sept. 7. That route is the reverse of the 2013 inaugural race.
On Sept. 4, Innisfail will be starting host to Stage 2 of the race. The riders will finish that day in Red Deer.
“It’s going to start in Central Alberta and it’s going to end in Central Alberta,” said George Berry, local organizing committee chairman, who is thrilled that Red Deer is in the mix again.
Berry said they have been working with Innisfail and other communities that riders could travel through, including Sylvan Lake.
“We hope to head west of Innisfail to Sylvan Lake,” said Berry. “We’re hoping to do two laps in Sylvan Lake and make it a real festival. Sylvan Lake is good at putting on festivals with their triathlon, swimming and running events.”
The specific route from Innisfail to Red Deer is still being worked out but the route in Red Deer will be the same as in 2013. Riders enter Red Deer on Hwy 11 to 30th Avenue, then turn south on 30th Avenue to Ross Street. Heading west on Ross Street, they enter the downtown loop at the corner of Ross Street and 40th Avenue.
The finish line and the festival took over two blocks of Ross Street from 47th to 49th Avenues last year.
Innisfail town council will consider the proposal to host the stage on Monday.
Red Deer city council is expected to hear a request on May 12.
Berry said he does not expect any problems gaining approval.
He has spoken with individual council members who said they were behind it 100 per cent. The committee will also ask for $100,000 and will require road closures.
Berry said this year they hope to put on a bigger party than in 2013. In the coming weeks, they will launch a volunteer drive.
Each of the 15 teams in the tour will have eight cyclists. Last year, athletes from 25 countries competed.