The Tour of Alberta today announced the host cities for the 2015 race, which will start September 2 with a team time trial in the City of Grande Prairie and end six days later on Labour Day with a circuit race in Edmonton. The third edition of the UCI 2.1 race will also venture into the Rocky Mountains for the first time.
The Canadian tour's position on the calendar between the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado and the WorldTour races in Quebec and Montreal – which come just a week before the UCI Road World Championships begin in Richmond, Virginia on September 20 – should ensure a strong field for the race's third year. The addition of a team time trial in advance of the worlds event in Richmond will be a draw for teams that want to practice the discipline in a race environment.
The second stage of the race will take riders past the scenic boreal forests in the County of Grande Prairie before the route heads west toward the Canadian Rocky Mountains for Stage 3. Starting in Grande Cache on Friday, September 4, the third stage will make its way through the Municipal District of Greenview, ultimately finishing at Jasper National Park.
Stage 4 will take place in Jasper, beginning in the town and finishing on top of Marmot Basin ski resort. With the support of Parks Canada, the race within Jasper National Park will be the site of the Tour of Alberta’s most challenging King of the Mountain competition to date.
On Sunday, September 6, the race will make its way back east, beginning Stage 5 in Edson. The stage will finish in Spruce Grove, the hometown of Optum Pro Cycling's Ryan Anderson, winner of the jersey for best Canadian rider during the race's first two editions.
“The 2015 Tour of Alberta is definitely different from the past two editions,” said Anderson, who placed 5th overall in last year’s race. “This year, we’re taking a more northerly route and will hit the high mountains for the first time.
“The stop in Jasper National Park should be phenomenal and put a different slant on the overall outcome,” Anderson said. “We will also have a team time trial, which you don’t see very often in major stage races. The final two days with a finish in and around Edmonton will be familiar for me, because I grew up training on many of those roads.”
Edmonton will return in 2015 to once again host the final circuit on Monday, September 7. The Labour Day circuit race in Edmonton’s downtown core promises to be an exciting finale as cyclists battle for the final overall general classification.
Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) won the overall last year by taking the final sprint in Edmonton, winning a 10-second time bonus and jumping past Tom Dumoulin by one second after the Giant rider had worn the race's gold jersey since the opening time trial in Calgary.
Alberta Peloton Association Chairman Brian Jolly said organisers were excited to bring the race to more communities and introduce more vertical terrain in 2015.
“As a part of this northern route, we are able to include a true mountain stage for the first time ever,” Jolly said. “This aspect is crucial as the Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial continues to gain momentum in the international professional cycling community. We are already looking forward to a tour focused primarily in Southern Alberta in 2016.”
Exact stage routes by will be released in the Spring. Planning for the 2016 Tour of Alberta host communities will also begin in the Spring of 2015.
2015 Tour of Alberta host cities:
September 2, Stage 1: City of Grande Prairie (TTT)
September 3, Stage 2: County of Grande Prairie
September 4, Stage 3: Grande Cache to Jasper National Park
September 5, Stage 4: Jasper
September 6, Stage 5: Edson to Spruce grove
September 7, Stage 6: Edmonton (circuit race)