Slagter will return to Tour of Alberta with Cannondale-Drapac

Two-time stage winner Tom-Jelte Slagter will return to the Tour of Alberta this year with Cannondale-Drapac, no doubt hoping to improve his third-place overall finish in 2015, when he won stages 3 and 4 on his way to the final podium.

Slagter, who won the stage in Jasper National Park that will be reprised this year, will get help from Cannondale-Drapac teammates Nathan Brown, who wore the mountains jersey in the Tour de France for two days in July; Lawson Craddock, third-place finisher in the 2015 Amgen Tour of California; and Alex Howes, who finished third at the Colorado Classic earlier this month. Kristjan Koren, trainee Cyrus Monk and sprinter Wouter Wippert round out the WorldTour team's provisional Alberta roster.

Defending Alberta champion Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel) had to abandon the Tour of Utah earlier this month after a crash and will not be on hand to defend his title, but his team will send an able replacement in TJ Eisenhart, who led the Colorado Classic for a day and won the Redlands Bicycle Classic in May. He'll be backed by Utah stage winners John Murphy and Ty Magner, along with Andzs Flakis, Miguel Bryon, Oscar Clark, Joe Lewis and Brendan Rhim.

Rally Cycling will take the start with a strong team that includes Tour of Utah winner Rob Britton, who moved to Alberta last year. Evan Huffman, who won two stages at the Tour of California in May and a stage in Alberta last year, will also take the start, along with Colin Joyce, who won the opening stage in Alberta last year and wore the leader's jersey for two days. The provisional Rally roster also includes Adam de Vos, Jesse Anthony, Sepp Kuss and Canadian champion Matteo Dal-Cin.

Canadian Continental teams in the race include H&R Block and Garneau-Quebecor, which will be led by 2016 Canadian champion Bruno Langlois. Silber Pro Cycling will bring young sprinter Pier-Andre Cote, who was third at the Canadian national championships, Ryan Roth and Nigel Ellsay, who was seventh overall in the 2016 Tour of Alberta.

UnitedHealthcare, which announced its provisional roster last week, will feature Janier Acevedo and sprinter Travis McCabe. Tanner Putt, who won a stage in Alberta last year, and 2016 fifth-place finisher Alex Cataford will also anchor the US Pro Continental team.

Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Maxxis), who was third in Utah and second at the Colorado Classic earlier this month, has been riding well as of late and will be a rider to watch. His US Continental team will also features a bevy of breakaway specialists, including Taylor Shelden, Angus Morton and Josh Berry.

Another rider to watch is Spaniard Oscar Sevilla (Medellin-Inder), who will continue his return to North American racing since riding with Rock Racing in 2009 and 2010. Sevilla won the Vuelta Madrid in Spain earlier this year and was second in the Vuelta San Juan and Tour of Ankara. He was third in Vuelta Asturias and finished fourth in the one-day Winston-Salem Classic in May.

Italian team Amore & Vita-Delle SMP will bring former Albanian National Champion Redi Halilaj and top sprinter Marco Zamparella, while new US Continental team Aevolo boasts U23 riders from four different countries. Elevate-KHS will feature Canadian James Piccoli, who was third in Utah on the stage that finished atop Snowbasin, and sprinter Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, who finished on the podium of stages recently in Tour of Utah and Colorado Classic.

The four-day UCI 2.1 race begins Friday, September 1, with the Jasper Park stage that finishes with a climb to Marmot Basin Ski Resort. Slagter won the stage in 2015 on the fourth of six stages. He went on to finish third overall behind Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott). This year's race concludes September 4 with a circuit race in downtown Edmonton.

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