Mixed snow and rain expected for stage 3 start in Grande Cache
When one of the Tour of Alberta's partners, GoAuto, handed out vehicle ice scrapers during stage 2, it was purely coincidental that the pending weather conditions for stage 3's start in Grande Cache were calling for overnight snow and morning temperatures close to the freezing mark.
The 181km stage will depart from Grande Cache at roughly 10 a.m. and head toward Jasper National Park before taking the riders into the mountains for the first of two summit finishes to Miette Hot Springs. The location of the mountaintop finish is expected to get snow overnight also, but temperatures will rise to six degrees Celsius and the rain is expected to end one hour before the peloton's fastest expected time of arrival.
Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge), who is currently ranked third overall and is wearing the best Canadian rider jersey, said that while the European riders in the field have grown accustomed to the recent summer heat wave overseas, they have raced many times in cold and rainy weather conditions during the spring months.
"The cold weather has played a role for a lot of us coming from Europe," Meier said. "There has been a heat wave over in Spain and coming here is a bit of a shock to the system, and a lot of guys were bundled up today [during stage 2], but they are used to racing in cold weather like this during the spring races."
Two weeks ago, southern parts of Alberta were blanketed with snow, but this year the race is held further north between Grande Prairie and Edmonton, which was not affected by the random summer snowfall.
Tour of Alberta President and CEO Duane Vienneau told Cyclingnews ahead of the race that, "If we run into a scenario that the route is deemed unsafe to race we would make alternate plans as we go. The number one goal is safety to all involved."
Finish line crash takes down Barta and Kline
Shane Kline (Team SmartStop) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) crashed just after the finish line of stage 2 at the Tour of Alberta in Grande Prairie when the finish line tape lifted off the tarmac in the gusty winds and rainy conditions, and got caught in the riders' front wheels after the bunch sprint.
Following the race Kline posted on Twitter that he was nursing a lot of road rash but that he was otherwise OK.
Silber Pro Cycling's Perry leads mountain competition
Benjamin Perry (Silber Pro Cycling) took the lead of the mountains competition at the Tour of Alberta after riding in the all-day breakaway during stage 2 and picking up full points on the day's two KOMs.
Stage 2 was a 171km from Grande Prairie to Beaverlodge and back to the finish line in Grande Prairie. The field completed two large finishing circuits that included a short climb on Hwy 666.
Perry's breakaway companions were Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18), Phil O'Donnell (Axeon Pro Cycling) and Thomas Vaubourzeix (Lupus Racing). The four riders gained 3:25 and they were caught with roughly 10km to go.
"For me it was a good day to be in the break because it was going to be cold and wet and I wasn't too fond of the idea of riding in the bunch all day," Perry said.
"The goals originally was to go for the most aggressive rider jersey but I got a good gap for the first KOM and so I went for the next one and got that as well. A jersey is a jersey and we are here for some exposure and we will try and go for some of the later stages. It was mission accomplished today."