ALBERTA

Tour of Alberta cycling race gains a mountain stage, heads to Jasper in 2015

01/15/2015 01:45 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT
SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. - The Tour of Alberta's cycling stage race will be limited to the northern half of the province, but includes a mountain stage in 2015.

Grande Prairie will host the first two days of the Sept. 2-7 race before it moves through Grand Cache, Jasper, Edson, Spruce Grove and Edmonton, organizers announced Thursday.

The third edition of the Tour of Alberta, sponsored by ATB Financial, opens with a team time trial instead of the individual time trial that kicked off the previous two tours.

This year's fourth stage will be held in a national park for the first time with the cyclists racing from Jasper to the top of Marmot Basin ski resort. They'll finish the race in Edmonton on Labour Day.

"I grew up in Spruce Grove and it's going to be a finishing town so that's pretty special to me," Canadian cyclist Ryan Anderson said. "I think the race has always waited to go to the mountains, so I think the stage in Jasper will be pretty fantastic this year."

The 2014 Tour of Alberta featured 120 cyclists from 13 countries racing 734 kilometres through Calgary, Lethbridge, Innisfail, Red Deer, Wetaskiwin, Sherwood Park and Edmonton.

With $125,000 in total prize money available, Daryl Impey of South Africa won the six-stage race. Anderson was fifth, just 11 seconds back of Impey, to earn the top Canadian trophy for a second straight year.

He finished second to Impey in a final-stage sprint. The 27-year-old Optum Pro Cycling racer now builds the back end of his racing season around peaking for the Tour of Alberta.

"Leading into the fall I have priorities and the main heart of it is the Tour of Alberta," Anderson said. "I come to Alberta with the best fitness I can."

A mountain leg from Black Diamond to Canmore was on the inaugural race itinerary in 2013. Flooding in southern Alberta altered the stage to a race through the foothills and back to Black Diamond.

So after two years of racing mainly on the Alberta plains, the climbers will get their chance in 2015. Anderson expects the mountains will create more separation among the top cyclists.

"You could still (have) a guy like Darryl Impey win the race again if he comes back, but more people are going to lose more time on the stage in Jasper versus last year where probably the guys from first to fifth were pretty close on time," he said.

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