With Photos by Joel Belizario (ISN)
September 4, 2013, Edmonton, Alberta – Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Peter Sagan, has won more races than anyone on the world’s professional circuit, notching his 20th victory of the season by winning the Prologue time trial of the inaugural Tour of Alberta in downtown Edmonton, Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old Slovakian rider won the 7.3-kilometer prologue around the centre city of Edmonton by 13 seconds over Australian Rohan Dennis of Team Garmin-Sharp. Sweden’s Tobias Ludvigsson of Team Argos-Shimano placed third.
BMC Racing Team crew members prepare their team’s racing bikes prior to the start of the Tour of Alberta Prologue in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
“I think this distance was good for me,” said Sagan, who won the past two sprint points jerseys at the Tour de France. “Maybe if it was longer, not so good. But I have been training and racing at high altitude in Colorado the past two weeks, so I think my fitness is good.”
Simon Geschke of Team Argos-Shimano is the first rider out of the gate during the inaugural Tour of Alberta in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Less than two weeks ago, Sagan had won four stages of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, considered by many to be the biggest bike race in the United States. Dennis called Sagan a, “hard man to beat at the moment.”
The inaugural Tour of Alberta kicked off in front of massive crowds in the tens of thousands that welcomed Canada’s first major internationally-sanctioned stage race. The six-day race kicked off in Alberta’s capital city in the evening in front of a live national and international audience.
Emerson Oronte of Jelly Belly P/b Kenda rounds a corner during the Tour of Alberta Prologue in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Riders from 27 countries took the start house in an event that organizers hope will be an annual affair for Canada’s second most western province.
The race continues with Stage 1, which includes a mostly flat stage from Strathcona County to the bike-friendly city of Camrose, south of Edmonton. The race will be 158 kilometres long with sprint points at Fort Saskatchewan and Ardrossan.
A rider passes the timing zone during the Tour of Alberta Prologue in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Christian Vandevelde of Team Garmin-Sharp grins as he passes Marcus Burghardt of BMC Racing Team during the Tour of Alberta Prologue in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
“The roads for sure will have wind, I think,” said Robert Gesink, who races for The Netherland-based Belkin Pro Cycling team. “I am used to winds in my home country of Holland, and they can do strange things to a bike race.”
A rider passes a crowd gathered at the Alberta Legislature during the Tour of Alberta Prologue held in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Gesink referred to the rural Alberta countryside the cyclists will undertake in Wednesday’s stage, where winds sometime kick up in late summer in the province. The winds can sometimes cause splits in the pack of riders while racing, which can create time gaps.
With time bonuses for the first three finishers on each of the next five stages, and with Sagan already picked as the top sprinter in the race, it leaves people guessing on whether this could be a race where Sagan could lead from start to finish.
Brent Brookwalter of BMC Racing Team prepares to tackle the uphill section of the Tour of Alberta prologue held in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
“He will be hard to beat for the overall for sure,” said Team Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal, the top Canadian racing in the Tour of Alberta and winner of the prestigious Giro d’Italia in 2012. “He’s a quality bike rider and obviously on very good form. That’s a scary proposition.”
The big names didn’t disappoint with top finishes by 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of BMC Racing, who finished 4th overall, 20 seconds behind; 2013 Tour of Poland winner Pieter Weening of team Orica GreenEDGE, 21 seconds behind; seven-time U.S. National Champion in the time trial David Zabriskie and Hesjedal both of Team Garmin-Sharp, finished 30 seconds back.
Alexander Cataford of Equipe Garneau-Quebecor rides uphill past an appreciative group of spectators during the Tour of Alberta Prologue in Edmonton on September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
More information on the Tour of Alberta can be found at www.tourofalberta.ca. Follow the Tour of Alberta on Twitter @TourofAlberta or on Facebook at TourofAlberta.
About the Tour of Alberta The Tour of Alberta: Canada’s Pro-Cycling Festival is a six-day stage race scheduled to be held September 3 to 8, 2013. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling’s governing body, awarded the inaugural Tour of Alberta with a 2.1 sanctioning in September 2012, making it one of the highest level pro cycling events in Canada, and one of the highest level events in North America. An annual event beginning in 2013, the event will be broadcast live daily in Canada on Sportsnet, and broadcast internationally on various networks, as it is expected that the event will host riders from over 20 countries around the world.