Tour of Alberta
Back to the mountains
The Tour of Alberta, Canada’s uci 2.1 race, is going big for its first stage. The fifth edition of the event will start in Jasper with three 50-km circuits and will finish with a 10-km climb to Marmot Basin, like the fourth stage of the 2015 edition. While the climb is long, it doesn’t necessarily favour the mountain goats. “It’s not brutally steep, so not pure climber’s climb,” says Jeff Corbett, TOA technical director. “A strongman can get up it.” Corbett doesn’t expect the climb to give the stage winner a race-clinching time gap. In 2015, the peloton was all together when it came to the bottom of the climb. “I think because the hill was an unknown that year, people held back a bit beforehand. We had a handful of little breakaways but nothing got more than a minute or two,” Corbett says. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar. We might hit the bottom of the climb all together and let it play out, which is great. It’s the way you want it. Then you get to see a true showdown on the climb with everyone starting on an equal footing,” Corbett adds. Two years ago, Tom-jelte Slagter won the stage. Second-place finisher and eventual race-winner overall Bauke Mollema described his run up the hill as one of the hardest kilometres of his life. From Jasper, it’s over to the Greater Edmonton Area. The remaining three stages will follow a hub-and-spoke setup, with everything centred around the provincial capital. Fans will be able to catch a lot more of the racing as the stages are more compact than in previous years. “I think it compresses the drama and compresses the action,” he says.
The final stage is a TOA classic. The past three years of the race have concluded with a circuit in Edmonton that features the start/finish at Churchill Square, the Bellamy Hill Road climb and the run by the legislature and along the river. A crowd usually gathers at the top of Bellamy where you can see almost two-thirds of the hill. Families hang out on the legislature grounds. This final day of 124 km is usually competitive right to the end. In 2014, Tom Dumoulin lost his overall led by one second on this stage. In 2016, the defending champion, Bauke Mollema, started this stage one second back from Robin Carpenter. The Dutch rider on the Worldtour team (Trek-segafredo) wasn’t able to take the overall win away from the U.S. racer on the continental team (Holowesko/citadel presented by Hincapie Sportswear).
Tom-jelte Slagter wins Stage 4 of the 2015 Tour of Alberta in Jasper
Riders head to Marmot Basin during the 2015 Tour of Alberta