White Rock residents will likely notice a few more cyclists cruising around local streets this week, as competitors start trickling into town for this weekend’s Tour de White Rock.
The annual cycling series – part of BC Superweek, which also includes races in Delta, UBC, Gastown and Burnaby – will kick off Friday, with the criterium in uptown White Rock, while the 134-km Peace Arch News Road Race will hit the streets Saturday morning.
Now in its 36th running, the Tour de White Rock has changed this year, and will be held over two days instead of the usual three, after organizers axed the popular hill climb, which used to run Friday evenings along Buena Vista Avenue.
Now, the fan-friendly criterium – which will see riders zip around a 1-km circuit that includes Five Corners, Johnston Road and White Rock Elementary – will serve as the opening act of the racing weekend.
The activities begin at 3:15 p.m. with the Kids Bike Parade, and at 3:30 p.m., the Kids Criterium (under-12) will be held, followed at 4 p.m. by the under-15 race. At 4:30 p.m., the first men’s race (category 3/4 riders) takes off from the start line, followed by the women’s race at 5:30 p.m. and the men’s pro event an hour later.
On Saturday, the road race begins at 9 a.m. down at the Marine Drive start/finish line.
The race – which is 134 km for the men, and 80 km for the women – will see riders traverse a hilly course throughout the city. The men will do 11 laps of a longer, 10-km course before moving onto a shorter circuit for the final laps, while the women will pedal through eight long laps to crown a champion.
Last year, Ottawa’s Matteo Dal-Cin cruised to victory in the men’s race, pulling away from the lead group to win by 62 seconds over second-place finisher Pierrick Naud of Montreal.
The women’s race was much closer, and ended with Meghan Rathwell winning in a sprint to the finish line; four riders crossed the finish line within four-tenths of a second of each other.
Veteran German cyclist Florenz Knauer – a familiar name among longtime Tour de White Rock fans – won last year’s men’s criterium, while Allison Jackson won both the women’s criterium and the now-defunct hill climb. Brandon Etzl – who is expected to be back on the bike this week in White Rock – won the men’s hill climb.
For more on the two-day event, visit www.tourdewhiterock.com