Poor road conditions force organisers to remove 35km of dirt sectors from stage 5 route
Organisers of the Tour of Alberta announced on Tuesday at the pre-race press conference that they have removed more than a third of the dirt roads that had been newly added to the stage 5 parcours for this year’s race.
The 206km stage from Edson to Spruce Grove was originally designed to be the longest stage ever hosted at the Tour of Alberta. It was also going to include 56km of dirt roads, routed over six sectors. As of Monday, organisers had to make a few “last-minute changes due to road conditions and things beyond our control,” said event Technical Director Jeff Corbett.
“I’m not going to say that there will be tears shed by the gentlemen in the front row here, that I have had to remove over 35km of those dirt roads. They were not in the condition that we needed them to be in for racing, so we’ve had to do some last-minute quick adjustments."
There will now only be 18.5km of dirt roads, keeping the first and the final three dirt sectors. Dirt sectors two and three have been removed and will be replaced with paved roads along Highway 16.
“We’ve taken out dirt and have given you a big, giant highway but it still should be flat and fast,” Corbett said.
To compensate for the slight loss of distance, race organisers have included a second finishing circuit in Spruce Grove, for a total distance of 204km.
Anderson looking for hometown win in Spruce Grove
Canadian sprinter Ryan Anderson (Optum Pro Cycling) will be looking for a hometown win in Spruce Grove, along the finishing circuits of stage 5.
Anderson placed third during the opening stage last year in Lethbridge and second in the finale in Edmonton, giving him extra motivation to go after the win this year.
“Last year, I got second on the stage but that was still exciting for me, and when they launched the new route, I was happy to know that I have another shot at that stage this year.
“I was looking at the map and the circuit that we are doing at the finish in Spruce Grove. I lived in the middle of the circuit. I grew up there and that was my home for 18 years, so that will be cool. I don’t know how the legs will be feeling, but I will definitely be extra motivated.”
Anderson arrives in Alberta having recently competed at the USA Pro Challenge, where he placed fourth in Steamboat Springs and sixth in Aspen. Guillaume Boivin will also be a key sprint option for the team. For the overall classification, Optum will be working for Michael Woods.
Silber Pro Cycling hunt opportunities in Alberta
Former Canadian road champion Ryan Roth will take the start line at the Tour of Alberta with his Silber Pro Cycling squad, with the specific intent to animate the six-day race between Grande Prairie and Edmonton from September 2-7.
“I joined Silber Pro Cycling partway through last year, and this year we have stepped up our game,” Roth said in the opening press conference. “The Tour of Alberta is the biggest race for us this year, so we are very excited to be here again.”
The team will also include Alex Cataford, Matteo Dal-Cin, Nigel Ellsay, Michael Le Rossignol, Benjamin Perry, Alexander Ray and Derrick St. John.
“We added some good young Canadian talent, and things have been coming together really well,” Roth said. “We’re here to hopefully animate the race and to take opportunities when they present themselves for us.”