The province of Alberta will soon be home to the newest pro-cycling event on the international cycling circuit — The Tour of Alberta: Alberta’s Pro-Cycling Festival – scheduled to be held September 3 to 8, 2013.
The Tour of Alberta will be a six-day stage race, starting in Edmonton on Tuesday, September 3 and ending in Calgary on Sunday, September 8, with stages incorporating the highlights of rural Alberta; including villages, towns and small cities, which rarely, if ever, have had the benefit of seeing, let alone hosting, major international sporting events in their communities.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sports governing body based in Aigle, Switzerland, awarded the inaugural Tour of Alberta with a 2.1 sanctioning in September 2012, making it one of the highest-level pro cycling events in North America. An annual event beginning in 2013, the Tour of Alberta will feature up to 16 professional, international cycling teams, comprised of eight riders per team. It is expected that the event will host riders from over 20 countries around the world.
The 2.1 sanctioning from the UCI will allow the Tour of Alberta to invite the same teams which compete in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.
“A cycling event in Alberta, modeled after the classic road races such as the Tour de France and Giro D’Italia, has been a long-time dream of many Albertans, and it is real coup to be the first race sanctioned at this level in Canada,” said Brian Jolly, Chair, Alberta Peloton Association (APA), the not-for-profit association organizing the Tour of Alberta. “The UCI sanctioning recognizes both Alberta’s growing international reputation to host high quality, world class sports events, as well as it’s safe, warm, welcoming western hospitality, breath-taking scenery and varied landscapes.”
Alberta’s Rural Development Fund is providing $3.5 million in seed funding to help establish the event as a major annual cycling event and festival across the province. Additional funding is being secured through industry and corporate sponsorship, and the APA is pursuing a number of core partnerships with provincial and community organizations to ensure the event delivers on its promise of a world-class sporting event that showcases the province, communities and people of Alberta.
“I am thrilled that our province will be hosting another world-class event,” said Verlyn Olson, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. “The Tour of Alberta will provide a tremendous opportunity for many rural communities to roll out the red carpet and demonstrate why this province is such a great place to visit and call home.”
The Tour will also include a number of community festivals and events up to and throughout the event at start, finish and pass-through communities that will showcase Alberta’s communities, culture, food products and services, and promote fitness and healthy lifestyles.
“The Tour of Alberta is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our province as Albertans join with cycling fans from around the world in an international celebration of sport and culture,” said Alberta Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk. “Visitors will discover the rich heritage of Alberta and the incredible talent found in our communities as they enjoy the many cultural events held alongside the excitement of competitive cycling.”
Based on similar races at this level, the inaugural Tour of Alberta is expected to draw more than 300,000 on-site spectators over the six days of the race, and over 30 million viewers from over 100 countries via national and international television coverage of the race. Daily live coverage of the race will also be available on-line and through mobile applications.
The total economic impact of the event for Alberta is estimated at between $30-35 million each year.
“It is exciting to see this world-class event coming to Alberta with its race route stretching from our rolling foothills and Badlands to our majestic mountains and multiple communities in between,” said Christine Cusanelli, Minister of Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. “This event will not only inspire young Albertans to achieve their own athletic excellence, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity for us to attract even more travelers from across the globe to our province.”
The operational partner of the inaugural Tour of Alberta is the renowned organization Medalist Sports of Atlanta, Georgia (USA). Medalist has over 20 years of reputable experience in the production of world-class, professional cycling events, including the historic Tour DuPont, Tour of China, Tour de Georgia and Tour of Missouri, as well as the recent Amgen Tour of California, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. Medalist Sports is also the production partner for the 2014 UCI Para-cycling World Championships in Greenville, South Carolina (USA) and the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia (USA).
“We are proud to partner with the Alberta Peloton Association, Alberta’s Rural Alberta Development Fund, as well as the corporate partners and host communities of the inaugural Tour of Alberta,” states Chris Aronhalt, Managing Partner of Medalist Sports. “Our goal is simple, and that is to produce a world-class, professional cycling competition which highlights the beauty of Alberta and its communities, while creating positive economic and social impact to the region. The Tour of Alberta represents the continued passion and benefit of cycling, both at the grassroots and professional level, and the inaugural Tour of Alberta promises to be spectacular.”
The official route and list of host communities for the 2013 Tour of Alberta will be announced in early 2013, and the route will change annually to include different communities and race routes each year.
More information on the 2013 Tour of Alberta can be found at www.tourofalberta.ca