I cannot remember in my adult life ever having as much fun in my own province as I did last September following the inaugural Tour of Alberta from town to town. With an amazing crowd turn-out entertainment and attractions built around the event and the excitement and thrill of a UCI sanctioned race being held in our back yard it was definitely a highlight of the year.
That said I am giddy at the announcement that the TOA will return from September 2-7 this year. The route will be reversed however with the Grand Depart in Calgary and the finish in Edmonton. Host cities for this year’s race also include Lethbridge Innisfail Red Deer Wetaskiwin and Strathcona County. You can find a downloadable map of this year’s route here . Exact routes will be announced this summer.
The opening weekend here in Calgary will include a citizen’s ride and Team Presentation ceremony. The Prologue will be a short individual time trial which will set the tone for the race. Whoever wins the opening time trial will start the race as overall leader wearing the coveted golden-yellow leader’s jersey. Although Peter Sagan of Cannondale won the initial time trial last year as well as the final stage in downtown Calgary it was Garmin-Sharp’s Rohan Dennis who took the jersey as overall winner of the Tour of Alberta.
TOA also announced that both Team Garmin-Sharp and Belkin Pro Cycling are the first teams to be signed up for this year’s event with both last year’s winner Rohan Dennis and Canadian and 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal making a return. Belkin Pro Cycling will be bringing 2012 Amgen Tour of California winner Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema who boasts a 6th place Tour de France and 2nd place finish Tour of Switzerland in 2013. More teams to be announced in the coming months.
With the Spring Classics currently underway in Europe cycling season has taken hold and the Tour of Alberta is just one more race to look forward to this year. Who else is as excited as me? Let’s explore our province together and see some world-class cycling!
Photo credit: James May Photography