After two years on the UCI calendar, the Tour of Alberta (2.1) will tackle the Rocky Mountains for the first time in 2015, according to a statement released today by Jasper National Park. Although the complete route will not be announced until Thursday, today's statement indicated the Canadian tour will feature its first mountain top finish since the race began in 2013.
“Our Government is pleased to welcome the Tour of Alberta to Jasper National Park as the first ever mountain stage of this exhilarating event,” said Jim Eglinski, Member of Parliament for Yellowhead. “We look forward to welcoming participants and spectators to experience and connect with this incredible mountain national park during this exciting international event.”
The inaugural Tour of Alberta, won by Rohan Dennis in 2013, had to scuttle plans for a mountain stage after spring flooding caused extensive damage to the roads and infrastructure along the proposed route into to Banff National Park. A flatter circuit race, won by BMC's Cadel Evans, was substituted near the town of Black Diamond.
The 2014 race, won by OricaGreenedge rider Daryl Impey, was a mostly flat affair that started in Calgary and headed north for the finish in Edmonton.
Tour of Alberta Executive Director Duane Vienneau said for the past two years fans have been asking for the race to include a mountain stage, and the organisers were "thrilled that 2015 is the year fans and over 45 million international broadcast spectators will be able to experience some of Alberta’s most beautiful landscapes as the world’s best cyclists race through the Town of Jasper and Jasper National Park towards a thrilling mountain top finish."
This year's race will feature its northernmost start yet, with an opening prologue time trial scheduled for Grand Prairie. Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is about four hours west of Edmonton.