Gran Fondo take to road Satur­day

The Drumheller Mail - - SPORTS - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

The Gran Fondo Bad­lands is back for its fourth sea­son, and it is bring­ing along a spe­cial guest to the 2017 race.

Rick Skeith, or­ga­nizer of the an­nual bike trek through the val­ley tells The Mail, that Cana­dian cy­cling leg­end Alex Stieda will be its hon­oured guest. Stieda is the first North Amer­i­can cy­clist to lead the Tour de France, and in the 1986 race, he wore the yel­low jer­sey for one day.

“He is a good am­bas­sador for the cy­cling sport in Al­berta. He does a lot of work with teens and youth in the Ed­mon­ton area,” said Skeith.

Stieda will speak the night be­fore at the an­nual din­ner and will he act as the of­fi­cial starter on race day.

Reg­is­tra­tion for the race on Satur­day, June 24, which fea­tures a 50 kilo­me­tre (pic­colo), 75, 100 and 140 kilome- tre (medio), and full 160 kilo­me­tre Fondo has been strong says Skeith, who ex­pects about 650-700 rid­ers on the course. This may be down a lit­tle from pre­vi­ous years.

“Last year we were at about 800, so we are in the ball park,” he said, adding the econ­omy may play a role in the low­ers num­bers.

“Also a lot of peo­ple have done this ride three years in a row, so they might want to take a break. I am get­ting lots of new peo­ple com­ing in from out of prov­ince, a lot of peo­ple com­ing in from B.C. and On­tario, and the lo­cal peo­ple sign up at the last minute af­ter they see the weather fore­cast.”

Most the de­tails for this sea­son’s race are much the same as last year. They will once again be hold­ing the King and Queen of the Moun­tain com- bined hill climb chal­lenges. There is great par­tic­i­pa­tion from lo­cal spon­sors in­clud­ing McDon­ald’s and Tim Hortons of Drumheller. A favourite aid sta­tion on the course is at the Last Chance Saloon where they will be serv­ing up ba­con sand­wiches.

The Gran Fondo Bad­lands has once again teamed up with the lo­cal Sea Cadets and with lo­cal youth who are tak­ing on the Bad­lands to Banff Tour with Two-Wheel View.

“They will be out in full force to vol­un­teer again. We ap­pre­ci­ate it, and we pro­vide dona­tions to their cause,” said Skeith.

There is al­ways a need for vol­un­teers on race day. To reg­is­ter to help out on race day go to www.gran­fon­dobad­lands. ca.

Rid­ers take to the course from the Bad­lands Com­mu­nity Fa­cil­ity at 8 a.m. for the Grand Fondo, and 8:30 for the shorter dis­tances.

Lo­cally Owned and Op­er­ated by Greg and Sum­mer Manca

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