The Tour of Alberta today announced an initial list of five teams that will compete in the six-day UCI 2.1 race that takes place September 2-7 in the western Canadian province.
The Orica-GreenEdge team of 2014 overall winner Daryl Impey will return, as will Giant-Alpecin, whose Tom Dumoulin led last year's race from the opening time trial to the final sprint, where Impey captured the stage win and time bonuses that pushed him into the final overall lead by just one second. Other teams on the initial list include Cannondale-Garmin, Team Katusha and Drapac Professional Cycling, the top Australian Pro Continental squad.
"With the UCI Road World Championships being held in North America only two weeks after our race, the most elite teams see the Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial as their last chance to prepare," said Duane Vienneau, the race’s executive director. "The addition of the Team Time Trial and our two-day stop in the Canadian Rockies has definitely contributed to the hype amongst teams this year."
Giant-Alpecin will return to the race with hopes of avenging the stinging defeat last year, when Impey won the soggy final stage in Edmonton and slipped past Domoulin to win the overall by the smallest of margins.
"Last year we were close to winning the Tour of Alberta, and that has only made us more motivated to chase victory this year again," said Giant-Alpecin team director Aike Visbeek. "We will be sending a strong team. It will be interesting to see how the new course will influence the race. The riders are very motivated to race again in Alberta."
Team Katusha General Manager Viatcheslav Ekimov said his squad is looking forward to their debut in Alberta.
"We plan to bring a competitive team who will be excited to race in front of our North American fans," Ekimov said. "It's especially important to support these younger races that are still growing in statue, and we always want to honor the great sponsors that step up financially for our sport. I know last year there was a big audience of viewers and I'm sure this year will be even better. We're especially anxious to take part in the team time trial for stage 1, since it's only a few weeks from the TTT in the Worlds."
Drapac will also be making its first appearance in the race, but director Tom Southam said the Tour of Alberta will be a key event for the Australian team.
"Alberta is a significant race for us, as it will allow our riders to once again to race against some of the best in the world while maintaining our focus on the North American Cycling Calendar for 2015," he said. "We will have competed in some big events and we expect the team to be highly competitive throughout the year. We will bring a diverse roster to Alberta and will be looking to showcase our sprint team for stages wins."
Organisers also announced that Miette Hot Springs, a major tourist attraction famed as the hottest known springs in the Canadian Rockies, will be the site for the stage 3 mountain-top finish, the first in the race's three-year history.