July 19/06 7:48 am - Tour de Gastown Preview
Posted by Editoress on 07/19/06
Tour de Gastown Vancouver BC
A couple photos from last night's the VIP reception at Storyeum, on Water Street in Gastown.
In just a few hours, the 2006 Tour de Gastown will take place in Vancouver, in front of a crowd that will likely number at least 35,000. The 26th annual running of the event has attracted strong fields for both the men's and women's races - 123 men and 42 women are on the start list. There were some earlier worries about rain, but the skies have cleared and it should be a beautiful evening.
For the men, the favourite is defending champion Gord Fraser (Health Net p/b Maxxis), who has brought 4 team mates to help him this year. He will face strong competition from Navigators, who also have five riders. Navigators has a number of potential winners - Hilton Clarke (who won the Burnaby GP earlier in the week), and the Russian duo of Oleg Grishkine and Vassili Davidenko. On the local front, Team Symmetrics is coming off a dominant performance at the Tour de Whiterock, and probably feeling some pressure to win in front of the home crowd. Symmetrics has 11 riders in the race, led by national road champion Svein Tuft and Tour de Beauce stage winner Andrew Pinfold.
The race is one of the last times Fraser will race in Canada before his planned retirement in August after the U.S. Criterium Championships (Fraser will finish his Canadian career at the Tour de Delta this weekend). The men will race 50 laps (60 kilometres), starting at 7:30 pm (10:30 pm EDT).
In the women's field, defending champion Gina Grain (Colavita Cooking Light) faces a number of threats, including Sarah Uhl (Home Depot), Leah Goldstein and Mandy Poitras (both Symmetrics), former winner Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) and national champion Alexandra Wrubleski (H&R Block). Grain has just spent the last three days going to the hospital for IV antibiotic treatments for an infection in her left arm, and says that she still has some soreness. The women race 30 laps (36 kilometres), starting at 6:15 pm (9:15 pm EDT).
Map of Course