The Tour of Alberta came to town last week. Yup, a sanctioned UCI 2.1 Pro Stage Race came to Alberta for six days of racing.
We were lucky enough to host the prologue in Edmonton to kick off the race. I was excited because a prologue showcases the racers one at a time. They start at one minute intervals, so there was a lot to watch unlike a stage where they zoom by in a big clump!
It was a 7.3 km time trial, starting and finishing in the heart of downtown with tight corners and one descent and climb.
There were 115 riders from 15 teams including six top European pro teams, 23-year-old Peter Sagan (ranked number two in the world), Cadel Evans who won the 2011 Tour de France, and top Canadian Ryder Hesjedal who won the Giro d’Italia in 2012.
Kelly and I rode our mountain bikes downtown so we could ride around and watch from various points of the course.
We got there in time to see the first rider take the first turn of the course. After watching a few riders at that turn, we rode a bit further to see them take the second and then third turns right before hitting the downhill. Then we moved on to see them crest the hill about 5km in and stayed there until the end.
Kelly was as excited as a kid at Disneyland! He told me who riders were, drooled over bikes, and cheered like crazy.
I was simply in awe of how tight they take corners, their speed, and their grit.
It was also interesting to visibly see the speed variances between the pro tour teams and the continental teams.
They saved the best for last with Peter Sagan, Cadel Evans, and Ryder Hesjedal. Hesjedal was the very last rider and, as a decorated Canadian, the cheers he got were pretty incredible.
In the end, Sagan took first with second place coming in 13 seconds behind him and the rest of the field spread to two minutes and 21 seconds back.
The other five stages rode throughout Alberta, with an approximate total distance of 850km or 530 miles.
Rohan Dennis of Team Garmin-Sharp ended up winning the event overall on Sunday.
For a first year event, I think spectator support was decent. In Edmonton there were thousands of fans on bikes and with cowbells, cameras, and maps.
Hopefully we host the race again next year, with a more exciting route to better showcase Alberta and with more fans to cheer on the cyclists!
Have you ever watched a professional bike race, or any bike race?