The inaugural Tour of Alberta, a UCI 2.1 stage race scheduled for September 3-8 in Canada, could be forced to make some last-minute changes to the southernmost portion of its route near the Canadian Rockies due to extensive road damage caused by flooding and extreme winter weather.
The town of Black Diamond, scheduled to host the start of the 200km penultimate stage that finishes in Canmore, is currently experiencing localized flooding that damaged the water treatment plant. Residents have been asked to conserve water while a temporary chlorinated water line from nearby Turner Valley provides drinking water. A number of areas have been closed to the public, and road and bridge closures will likely be in place for an extended time. A section of Highway 22 that is on the planned race route is currently closed.
Chris Aronhalt, managing partner of Medalist Sports, the race's technical director, told Cyclingnews via e-mail that Medalist was aware of the situation but at the same time was planning for a safe and successful event.
"It is certainly a sensitive situation," he said. "So not much comment at this time."
The Adventure Cycling Association, a Montana-based cyclo-tourism advocacy group, this week warned cyclists off the Canadian leg of its Continental Divide route, which makes its way through the lower parts of Alberta and into British Columbia.
"We understand that this is an unusual warning, but in all my years at Adventure Cycling, I have never seen such a complete washout of a route," said Carla Majernik, Adventure Cycling's routes and mapping director. "We are receiving many reports of washed-out bridges, destroyed roads and fast-moving rivers and creeks, which could compromise a cyclist’s safety."
While the southwestern stretch of the race could face problems, the majority of stages northeast of Black Diamond between Calgary and Edmonton appear to be unaffected, according to a map of trouble spots on Adventure Cycling's website.
Aronhalt said race organizers remain flexible regarding to the road conditions and are confident the new race will become a "tourism" rallying point.
The six-day Tour of Alberta starts near Edmonton and makes its way south, dipping down to Black Diamond and briefly into the Rockies before its eventual finish in Calgary. The event forms a bridge on the North American calendar between the UCI 2.1-ranked Tour of Utah, the 2.HC USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado and two one-day World Tour races, the GP de Montréal and the GP de Quebec on September 13 and 15.
Teams already announced for the race include World Tour squads Garmin-Sharp, BMC, Cannondale, Argos-Shimano and the newly minted Belkin team, formerly Rabobank and Blanco. The Champion System team has been invited from the Pro Continental ranks, along with Continental squads Equipe Garneau-Quebecor, SmartStop-Mountain Khakis and Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies.
2013 Tour of Alberta:
Prologue: Edmonton Time Trial - 7.3km
Stage 1: Strathcona County to Camrose - 158km
Stage 2: Devon to Red Deer - 175km
Stage 3: Strathmore to Drumheller - 169km
stage 4: Black Diamond to Canmore - 200km
Stage 5: Okotoks to Calgary - 132km