The Tour of Alberta will be back in Central Alberta this year with international cyclists making their way to Olds and Rocky Mountain House in two of the five stages.
Stage 2 of the professional bike race will run 182 kilometres from Kananaskis to Olds on Sept. 2. Stage 3, on Sept. 3, will cover 181 kilometres and begins in Rocky Mountain House and ends in Drayton Valley.
The two Central Alberta communities will have free festivals on the days the race comes to town.
The Olds festival on Sept. 2 will be from noon to 5:30 p.m. at 5116 54 St., and will include interactive zones, a Christmas village, entertainment, mascot race and a bike parade. The Tour race itself goes from 12:30 to 4:56 p.m. that day.
The Rocky festival, a partnership between the town and Clearwater County, is from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. There will be a pancake breakfast, concessions, entertainment, fire juggling, bouncy castles, face painters and arts and crafts for children. It will be at 5332 50 St. The Tour race goes from 12:20 to 4:53 p.m.
The overall five-day 2016 Tour of Alberta, presented by ATB Financial, includes 120 riders over five days from Sept. 1 to 5, and is a total of 606 kilometres. It begins in Lethbridge and ends in Edmonton.
Stage 2 includes the biggest climb of the 2016 tour before the mainly rolling and flat terrain through Mountain View County. Stage 3 from Rocky goes through Clearwater County and north to Drayton Valley and includes seven kilometres of gravel road.
The other stages include Stage 1 in Lethbridge for 106.9 kilometres, starting and ending in that city; Stage 4 is 12 kilometres in Edmonton; and Stage 5, also in Edmonton, is much longer at 124 kilometres.
Red Deer hosted a couple of stages of the Tour of Alberta in 2013, its inaugural year, and again in 2014.