By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Despite a downward spiralling global economy, plans for a new International Cycling Union (UCI) Americas Tour race in 2009 are moving forward in western Canada. The Tour de Kootenays will be two one-day races, one point-to-point and one circuit, in the rugged Kootenays mountains of British Columbia on July 4 and 5 for elite and Under 23 men.
Bob Hennessy of the Intermountain International Bicycle Racing Association said that the increasing popularity of elite road racing in Canada pushed the creation of this race. "The concept originated with success of races such as the BC Cup Road race, BC road race championship events and the Glacier View Grand Prix," he told Cyclingnews.
"The adoption by the UCI in 2005 of the continental circuit structure, absence of a UCI venue in northwest North America and the success of the British Columbia-based Symmetrics Cycling Team prompted our decision in 2007 to set up corporate structure, seek approvals and make formal applications."
Hennessy said that his team took a lot of inspiration and best practices from the other men's UCI event in Canada, the long-running Tour de Beauce.
"Our race aspires to model the Tour de Beauce in Quebec in quality, service and safety," he said. "At the behest of [the Canadian Cycling Association,] a Kootenays delegation attended there 2008 to observe and document."
The mountains of western Canada will provide for challenging courses, including, "dramatic topography with some glacial backdrops and sheer drop-offs, four climbs of various ratings with no switch-backs or technical descents and three sprints," said Hennessy. "In addition to Americas Tour regulars we hope to attract UCI trade teams active on UCI Asia Tour, which is unusual for North American events as far as I know. Also we will invite national, regional teams and qualified local teams."
As well, the race is attempting to push the technology envelope with rider data during the race. "We are working to upload near-real-time location data tracking riders during events using innovative hardware."
Race 1 – Rossland, BC to Retallack (east of New Denver, BC): 178km point to point (3 sprints, 4 climbs)
Race 2 – Krestova Circuit (near Crescent Valley, BC): 169.4/12.1km circuit (one 2km 6% climb)