March 25/04 1:31 am - Tour De Delta Doubles Prize Money
Posted by Editoress on 03/25/04
Tour De Delta Doubles Prize Money ! Richest BC Superweek Ever !
Courtesy Tour de Delta
DELTA (March 25, 2004) - After only three years of racing, the Tour De Delta has become such a big hit that organizers have announced they're doubling the prize money to $20,000, making it the richest three-day event in Canadian cycling and turning BC Superweek into one of the biggest weeks of racing in North America. Combined with the Tour de Gastown and Tour de White Rock, riders will be competing for record purses totaling $40,000 during BC Superweek.
"The goal of the Tour de Delta board of directors is to create an international caliber stage race," explains Race Director, John McMurchy. "Increasing the prize money will attract more professional cyclists and establish the Tour de Delta and BC Superweek on the North American race calendar. Three years ago when our cycling director, Jamie Davidson started recruiting riders from the big teams in the U.S.A. he had to explain what we were doing with the races. Now teams are calling us to see when to pencil in BC Superweek on their racing schedules."
This year's BC Superweek begins with the Tour de Delta Brenco Hill Climb, July 16, the Lehigh Cement Criterium July 17, and the White Spot Road Race July 18. It continues with the Tour de Gastown July 21 and concludes with the three stages of the Tour de White Rock, July 23, 24, 25.
The increased purse money will make a dramatic difference according to Rita Clarkson, director of the Tour de White Rock, the Granddaddy of bike races in BC, which is now in its 25th year.
"It's great news and will definitely have a big impact," she says. "The better riders will come from a further distances based on the size of the prize money. This will guarantee we'll get the better riders out of the U.S. and back east. It'll definitely give us better races and a better BC Superweek. Raising the purses is the key. That and coupling with Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon. It's one of the biggest races in the States. We' ve positioned BC Sueprweek so it begins the week after Cascade. The top riders have already traveled across the country to race in Oregon so it's easier and more economical for them to drive up to Vancouver for our races."
Last year, BC Superweek attracted more than 40 pros riding on the US Circuit. They included two of the top four men, based on North American rankings: Ontario's Gord Fraser, who won Gastown and American Danny Pate, who won the criterium and finished second to Ben Brooks in the road race in White Rock. Fraser is expected to return along with his teammates on the Health Net Racing Team.
"Gord billeted with us in White Rock," says Rita Clarkson "This was his first time here in a decade and I can tell you he was impressed by the organization and competition in all the races in BC Superweek. I remember the last thing he said, standing in our driveway before heading for the airport. He turned and said don't worry we'll be back next year and this time we'll be bringing our "A Team" with us."
It's too early for any of the teams to name the squads they'll be sending to Vancouver this summer but most of the top teams have included BC Superweek in their announced schedule. "We're thinking of increasing the size of the field from 120 to 140 this year," reveals Tour de Delta cycling director, Jamie Davidson. "We're expecting most of the big pro teams will bring full squads of 6 to 8 racers. The increased prize money is going to help. It is just part of the evolution of our event and a result of the success. The community is really behind it. I mean it's pretty outstanding when you realize Delta has done it all with sponsors completely from within Delta. It was a valuable lesson learned from White Rock, get local sponsors and don't rely on big national sponsors who can pull the plug at any minute. The prize money is not the only reason the top riders keep coming back. The feedback I get each year is that they enjoy everything about the races up here, from the organization to the atmosphere to the crowds. Racing in front of 20 to 30,000 in Gastown is a rare treat for any racer." Increasing the crowds is another benefit organizers hope to achieve by doubling the purse in Delta. They're also trying to raise the fun level at the races by adding more festival type activities and entertainment before each event.
"The races and the Envision Mayors Rally on the Saturday morning make this one of the biggest weekends of the year in Delta," says Mr. McMurchy. " We' re trying to make it bigger and better each year. The Lehigh Cement criterium in the historic village of Ladner will be bustling with family activities prior to the twilight races on Saturday night. Our ultimate goal is to have crowds of over 10,000 spectators come out to Delta every year for the fun and the racing."