Residents line streets for Tour of Alberta’s fleeting visit

The Tour of Alberta left Sylvan Lake almost as quickly as it arrived last Thursday, leaving roads closed

Tour - Lakeshore Drive last Thursday was awash with cyclists taking part in the Tour of Alberta

The Tour of Alberta left Sylvan Lake almost as quickly as it arrived last Thursday, leaving roads closed for less than half of the amount of time allotted to allow the high-calibre bicycle race to pass through smoothly.

Roads in and out of Sylvan Lake were closed for just under 40 minutes, according to Lee Furlotte, recreation, parks and culture manager for the Town of Sylvan Lake.

“We were quite conservative with the amount of time we allotted for the road closure,” he said. “I think it was a total of 38 minutes, compared to the hour-and-a-half that we had publicized.”

From an operational perspective, the event went “really well,” he added. Much of the success in that regard was due to the 55 volunteers from Sylvan Lake and around the province who volunteered as course marshals for the event, which saw cyclists circuit the town nearly two full times before heading east to Blackfalds.

Furlotte said the Town hadn’t yet had the chance to gauge what kind of impact — if any — the race had on Sylvan Lake. Regardless, it brought plenty of Sylvan Lake residents to Lakeshore Drive and other vantage points around town to take it what he referred to as “the swarm of bees” that passed through.

“If you blinked, you might have missed it,” he said, referring to the high speed at which the cyclists raced — between 40km/h and 70 km/h, which fluctuated throughout each stage.

Sylvan Lake was something of a unique stop for the tour, given that the town was essentially shut down for the duration of its visit, said Furlotte.

That brought its fair share of criticism, he added, but he feels the positives of hosting the race far outweighed the negatives.

“Besides some negative feedback, it went quite well,” he said. “It was great to see people out there (watching) and hopefully it generated some good publicity for the Town of Sylvan Lake.”

Last year’s race was broadcasted in over 162 countries worldwide, attracting more than 41 million television viewers.

“For an event of this magnitude to go through, that’s always a benefit to a town,” said Furlotte.

Daryl Impey of South Africa took the overall title of this year’s event, finishing one second ahead of Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands.

“After everything I’ve gone through, this victory is very rewarding,” said Impey in a Tour of Alberta media release. “My team did an incredible job getting me the best position to sprint for the win.”

He also spoke of his appreciation for the race.

“This was a very good race. It has become important for us. It’s organized well and well attended by the fans. We look forward to coming back.”

See more race photos in this week’s paper.

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