Alberta is set to become the home of the international pro cycling circuit's newest destination and Canada's highest level pro cycling event - the Tour of Alberta.

In concurrent press conferences in Calgary and Edmonton, the Alberta Peloton Association, announced the six-stage event will take place next year between September 3 to 8, complete with riders who normally tackle the iconic Tour de France, trying their hands at some Alberta roads.

Riders will tackle "stage routes traveling throughout rural Alberta, villages, towns and small cities, which rarely, if ever, have had the benefit of seeing, let alone hosting, major international sporting events in their communities," organizers said Monday.

The Tour of Alberta will be the highest level pro cycling event in Canada and will feature up to 16 teams - of up to eight riders each - half of which can be Pro Tour teams, the same ones who make their mark in the Tour de France or Giro d'Italia.

“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 a real coup to be the first race sanctioned at this level in Canada,” said Brian Jolly, Chair of the APA, the not-for-profit association organizing the Tour of Alberta.

“The Union Internationale Cyclistes 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, breath-taking scenery and varied landscapes.”

The event will draw more than 300,000 spectators and more than 30 million TV viewers in more than 100 countries, organizers said.

Although the official route won't be announced until early 2013, Alberta Tourism Minister Christine Cusanelli hinted riders may have to tackle rolling foothills, badlands and "majestic mountains."

More information is available at www.tourofalberta.ca.

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