The Canadian province of Alberta will soon be home a new international pro road cycling race: the Tour of Alberta in September of 2013. The race was announced in October. Organizers have released more details on the inaugural event.
The Tour of Alberta will be a six-stage race, starting in Edmonton on Tuesday, September 3 and ending in Calgary on Saturday, September 8, with stage routes traveling throughout rural Alberta, 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 Internationale Cyclistes (UCI) sanctioned the Tour of Alberta as a 2.1 stage race in September of 2012. It joins single-day WorldTour rounds in Montreal and Quebec on Canada's calendar of major road events. An annual event beginning in 2013, the Tour of Alberta will feature up to 16 pro cycling teams of up to eight riders per team. With the 2.1 level sanctioning, up to half could include ProTour teams, or the same teams which compete at the Tour de France or 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 its 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.
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 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 in 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 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.