Big names in cycling confirmed for Tour of Alberta

EDMONTON — The 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of BMC Racing Team, the current world’s No. 2-ranked rider Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling, and 2012 Tour of Italy winner and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of Team Garmin-Sharp, headline a star-studded field for the inaugural Tour of Alberta, Sept. 3-8, it was announced in a news release.

EDMONTON — The 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of BMC Racing Team, the current world’s No. 2-ranked rider Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling, and 2012 Tour of Italy winner and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of Team Garmin-Sharp, headline a star-studded field for the inaugural Tour of Alberta, Sept. 3-8, it was announced in a news release.

“We’re elated to announce the participation of some of the world’s top cyclists, which confirms our intentions of making this a great field in the inaugural year of the Tour,” said executive director Duane Vienneau. “To have a former Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, one of the most prolific winners today in professional cycling in Peter Sagan, and Canadian cycling hero and a Tour of Italy champion Ryder Hesjedal in the same race is amazing, and will make for a spectacular experience for everyone involved.”

Sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling’s governing body with a 2.1 ranking, the Tour of Alberta is one of the highest level pro cycling events in Canada and North America.

Joining Hesjedal on Team Garmin-Sharp is 2012 USA Pro Challenge winner Christian Vande Velde of the United States, three-time Tour de France stage winner David Millar of Great Britain, seven-time U.S. National Champion in the time trial David Zabriskie, and Lachlan Morton of Australia, who won stage 3 in the 2013 Tour of Utah.

Australia’s top team Orica-GreenEDGE will feature Peter Weening of the Netherlands, the recent winner of the Tour of Poland and a stage winner in both Tours of Italy and France; and Cam Meyer, a stage winner at this year’s Tour of Switzerland and Tour de France (team time trial).

Joining Evans on BMC Racing is Brent Bookwalter, who finished second overall in both U.S. road race and time trial national championships this year; and Marcus Burghardt, a former Tour de France stage winner and winner of the Ghent-Wevelgem classic in Belgium.

Joining Sagan will be current Danish national time trial champion Brian Vandborg and rising star Damiano Caruso, while Team Argos-Shimano will highlight Patrick Gretsch, a former Stage winner of the USA Pro Challenge and second in this year’s German national time trial championships.

Belkin-Pro Cycling Team, the Netherland’s top professional team, will be led by Dutchman Robert Gesink, the 2012 Tour of California champion and winner of the 2010 Gran Prix Montreal World Cup race, and Jack Bobridge the 2011 Australian road race champion and Olympic silver medalist at the London Olympic Games on the track, and Tom-Jelte Slagter, the 2013 champion of Australia’s top race, Tour Down Under.

“We’ve certainly attracted a top-notch field for the first Tour of Alberta,” said Jim Birrell, Tour of Alberta race director and managing partner at Medalist Sports, technical partner for the event. “The people of Alberta, and all of Canada, will be able to see Tour de France and Olympic heroes as well as many former and current national champions of their countries.”

Among the other top riders announced are current Canadian national champion Zach Bell, 2012 Canadian champion Ryan Roth, both of Champion System; current U.S. national champion Fred Rodriguez; former Tour of Utah stage winner Jacob Keough of UnitedHealthcare team; Edmonton native Ryan Anderson and current U.S. time trial champion Tom Zirbel, both of Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies; Will Routley of the Canadian national team; and Spaniard Francisco Mancebo, a former Tour of Utah winner and top 10 Tour de France finisher, riding for 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda Racing Team.

The race will feature more than 20 professional cyclists from Canada and athletes from more than 20 countries.

“We are committed to building Canadian cycling through this event,” said Brian Jolly, the Tour of Alberta chairman. “This event is not only great for Alberta but all of Canada. We are introducing a world-class event to Canada with a world-class field. We’re on the right track for success.”

The Tour makes a stop in Red Deer on Sept. 5. The 175-kilmetre leg begins in Devon and finishes at 4736 50th St. in Red Deer.