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Six-day Tour of Alberta set for launch in 2013

Organizers will officially launch the inaugural Tour of Alberta on Monday morning

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Organizers launched the six-day Tour of Alberta Monday morning in Edmonton.

The event touts a 2.1 designation from the UCI, meaning it can invite the sport’s top teams. Canadian (and defending Giro d’Italia champion) Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) has confirmed that he will ride the event, according to organizers.

The 2013 Tour of Alberta will run September 3-8, and, as VeloNews reported July, will run from Edmonton to Calgary. Organizers will unveil the official route for the race’s first edition in early 2013, but it’s clear the route itself will offer a sweeping parcours, with open plains, Rocky Mountain climbs and even urban settings.

“A cycling event in Alberta, modeled after the classic road races such as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, has been a long-time dream of many Albertans, and it is real coup to be the first race sanctioned at this level in Canada,” said Brian Jolly, the chair of the Alberta Peloton Association, the not-for-profit association behind the race. “The UCI sanctioning recognizes both Alberta’s growing international reputation to host high quality, world-class sports events, as well as it’s safe, warm, welcoming western hospitality, breathtaking scenery and varied landscapes.”

Medalist Sports — the firm behind races like the USA Pro Challenge and Amgen Tour of California — will organize the technical aspects of the event.

Alberta’s Rural Development Fund is providing $3.5 million in seed funding to help establish the event as a major annual cycling event and festival across the province. Officials estimate the economic impact from the race at $30-35 million per year.

“I am thrilled that our province will be hosting another world-class event,” said Verlyn Olson, minister of agriculture and rural development. “The Tour of Alberta will provide a tremendous opportunity for many rural communities to roll out the red carpet and demonstrate why this province is such a great place to visit and call home.”

The event made its way onto the UCI America Tour calendar in September and will officially launch on Monday. The 2013 Tour of Alberta will fall in the middle of a more than a month-long string of major UCI events in North America that opens with the August 2-4 Tour of Elk Grove, continues with the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah August 6-11 and concludes with the WorldTour Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal on September 15. The August 19-25 USA Pro Challenge will precede the Alberta Tour, while the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec will kick off the pair of WorldTour events on September 13.

“The Tour of Alberta is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our province as Albertans join with cycling fans from around the world in an international celebration of sport and culture,” said Alberta culture minister Heather Klimchuk. “Visitors will discover the rich heritage of Alberta and the incredible talent found in our communities as they enjoy the many cultural events held alongside the excitement of competitive cycling.”