EDMONTON – The final leg of the Tour of Alberta peddled its way into Edmonton on Monday.
Stage 6, the final leg of Canada’s largest professional cycling race, started at 12:50 p.m. and finishes at 3:47 p.m. in Churchill Square. The final leg sees athletes race 11 laps over an 11-kilometre circuit.
“We’ve had great support from our fans, sometimes surprising support based on some of the weather conditions we’ve had,” said the tour’s CEO Duane Vienneau.
READ MORE: Tour of Alberta Stage 3 route riders encounter snow
“Yesterday, from Edson to Spruce Grove… it was going to the longest stage…but a flat day. We just had two hard days in the mountains, coming home for the finish and it turned out to be probably the hardest stage we’ve had yet.
“The weather was crazy, the dirt roads turned into mud roads. It was just a very, very challenging day.
“The cyclists are pros. They’ll race through anything.”
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Despite the colder than usual temperatures, Vienneau hopes the TV viewership for the event will continue to grow. In its first year, the Tour of Alberta had 40 million international viewers. Last year, the race had 45 million international viewers.
“The international exposure is huge. The connection to the communities that we have in the province is a big part of our race as well,” added Vienneau.
The provincial government is helping sponsor the event, which will be back next year. Organizers hope the raise will be self-sustaining within five years.
“It’s growing. Every year, it’s growing,” he said.
“Our ultimate goal is to make sure the Tour of Albert is here forever.”
It’s also helping raise the profile of professional cycling, thanks in large part to the professional athletes showcasing their skills across the province.
“We have the best cyclists in the world and they’re loving this province,” said Vienneau. “They’re wondering what happened to the weather a little bit this week… but they’re battling through it.”