A professional cycling race featuring 120 competitors will be travelling over the streets of Sylvan Lake in September.
It will be like the Stanley Cup finals being played on your street, at no charge. Some pretty elite cyclists are coming here,” said George Berry, chairman of the Central Alberta stage organizing committee. A sprint as part of the race “is going to be quite exciting with high speeds”, he predicted. The cyclists will do two loops through Sylvan Lake.
The six day Tour of Alberta will visit Central Alberta for stage 2 on Sept. 4. The day will begin at Innisfail then cyclists will wind their way through the countryside to Sylvan Lake before concluding in Red Deer.
Berry provided councillors with a preview of the event during their meeting Monday night.
“We wanted them to experience and see the charm of Central Alberta,” he said exclaiming his excitement for the race.
The route will take cyclists out of Innisfail and west on Highway 54 to Range Road 10 then north to Burnt Lake Trail and up 781 to Highway 11. From there they’ll proceed west on Highway 11 to 60th Street, north to Lakeshore Drive then east to the traffic circle, south on Highway 20 to Memorial Trail, then west to 60th Street and back down Lakeshore for the second loop. Once they hit the traffic circle the second time they’ll go north on Highway 20 to Aspelund Road then east before making their way back for the day’s finish in Red Deer.
Berry said they’re planning a sprint finish in Sylvan Lake. “About a third of the way through the stage, speeds can go down a bit from 40-50 km/hr to 30 km/hr. We like to put something into the race, a big speed up,” he explained adding local businesses put up a cash prize.
“It’s high action coming in there with top speeds of 70 km/hr.”
The Tour of Alberta is a big event, added Berry. Last year there were 160 million viewers in over 60 countries. He’s also had calls from people in several U.S. states who are planning to travel to the region to volunteer.
Two hours of live television coverage are planned every single day of the race. That coverage will include commercials highlighting Central Alberta and Sylvan Lake. “It’s very exciting, we’re lucky to have it in Central Alberta.”
The intent is to have Central Alberta included as one of the stages each year of the event. “We’re hoping in the future to have a start or finish right here in Sylvan Lake.”
Discussions are underway with Chinooks Edge School Division and Red Deer Catholic Schools to allow students to watch the race as it passes through town, said Berry.
The loop through Sylvan Lake will be approximately 12 kilometres and it will take the whole entourage – all the cyclists and their support vehicles – about 30-45 minutes to travel through town.
Berry said roads will remain open and then close as cyclists are approaching.
Asked by Councillor Chris Lust about expectations from the community, Berry said they’ll need about 30 volunteers in Sylvan Lake and would like town assistance with setting up and taking down barricades for road closures and making temporary road closures.
Councillors requested staff prepare a report for a future meeting so they can discuss supporting or approving the event.