Edmontonians will get their first look at Canada’s inaugural international professional cycling stage race Monday as the Tour of Alberta kicks off.
Events are planned all-day Monday at Sir Winston Churchill Square, including a family bike ride along portions of the official race course.
A prologue race will be held Tuesday evening, starting and ending at Churchill Square. It is this first leg that will establish which rider will wear the coveted leader’s jersey.
The race itself starts Wednesday morning with cyclists riding from Strathcona County to Camrose.
Riders will then travel 800 kilometres through urban and rural Alberta, ending in Calgary on September 8.
The race is like no other event Alberta has ever hosted, said Val Mellesmoen, director of marketing and communications for the tour.
"I don’t think Albertans really have an idea of what to expect out of this. And pro cycling is not necessarily a mainstream or really well-known sport in Canada, and we’re hoping to change that in the next six days."
Cyclists and their support teams have been arriving in Edmonton over the two days, including No. 7 ranked Ryder Hesjedal, with several taking to the streets to train and acclimatize in advance of the race.
Mellesmoen said with riders from across the world arriving to compete in the multi-day, 11-location event, logistics have been no simple task.
"It’s a constantly moving and fluid environment around here, but it’s neat," said Mellesmoen.
"We needed to bring in some of the best people in the world to manage the logistics because it’s a constantly moving event," she added.
In Edmonton, a number of downtown roads will be closed Tuesday for the race, and a car-free zone established from 4 to 9 p.m.
Mellesmoen said race organizers hope to do a second Tour of Alberta next year.