July 4/07 1:16 am - 2006 Champions Return To Defend Tour De Gastown Titles
Posted by Editoress on 07/4/07
2006 Champions Return To Defend Tour De Gastown Titles
Courtesy Tour de Gastown
Both the men's and the women's race winners in the 2006 Tour de Gastown are returning to Vancouver on July 18 to defend their titles in British Columbia's premier bicycle race and the centrepiece of the BC Super Week series of bike races.
The race has already attracted some of the top teams in North America who will battle for more than $15,000 in prizes.
Last year's race winner, Australian, Hilton Clarke of the Navigators Insurance team, will come to Vancouver in top form having won the Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium in the US on June 23.
And the 2006 women's race winner, Burnaby's Gina Grain, a member of the Canadian National Team since 2001 who currently riders for Team Expresscopy.com, will again be tough to beat this year after a spectacular win in the Yaletown Grand Prix on July 1.
Tour de Gastown Event Director, Jonathan Wornell, says 130 men and 60 women are expected to register for this year's races.
"Apart from Hilton and Gina, the line up so far includes North Vancouver resident, Kirk O'Bee, and Victoria's Ryder Hesdjadal, both of the Healthnet Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis, former Tour de Gastown multiple winner, Gord Fraser, who is coming out of retirement to compete again this year, the Jazz Apples Cycling Team, a development team from New Zealand, and the Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team out of the US,"said Wornell.
Race Chair and Vancouver City Councillor, Raymond Louie, said spectators can expect a fantastic evening of racing. "The streets of Gastown provide one of the roughest challenges that riders face anywhere in North America, and that makes the Tour de Gastown such an incredible event for spectators." Louie added that the Tour de Gastown has become a firm family favourite as a mid-week summer outing. This year, organizers expect close to 40,000 spectators to line the route to see some of the top riders in North America.
As always, the event is free for spectators who are advised to arrive early to get the best vantage points around the 1.2km circuit. Although racing starts at 6.15pm with the women's event, the day's festivities begin at 1pm with a family festival and expo that includes exhibition cycling and fun events for kids.
A special guest this year will be former Vancouver Mayor, Senator Larry Campbell, who will be on hand to present the awards for the top placed BC man and woman riders in each of the races.
The event has a new presenting sponsor for 2007 - BC Hydro Power Smart. Hydro's Community Investment Manager Larina Lopez said her organization is committed to providing clean energy and encouraging energy conservation in B.C. and actively supports organizations and activities that also work towards that goal.
BC Hydro Power Smart recently announced that it will also be sponsoring Vancouver-based Symmetrics Pro Cycling, one of the most successful teams currently racing in North America.
The Tour de Gastown title is contested by men and women in separate races over a super-fast 1.2 km course on the streets of Gastown. It attracts some of North America's top riders who battle for more than $15,000 in cash prizes. Past winners have included seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
The women's race, over 30 laps (36km), is expected to attract about 60 riders and will begin at 6.15pm. The 50 lap (60km) men's race has a maximum field of 130 riders and will start at 7.30pm.
With the start and finish line at the Gastown steam clock on Water Street, the course includes a 165-degree hairpin turn onto Cordova Street, a three-block downhill sprint to a sharp left turn onto Carrall Street, a sweep through Maple Tree Square before a 250-meter dash to the finish line along Water Street's cobble stones.
Tour de Gastown 2007 merchandise, including T-shirts and caps, are now available through the Tour de Gastown website. Visit www.tourdegastown.com to order and for race details and updates.