Professional cyclists will be pounding the cobblestone streets of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood Wednesday during the resurrected Gastown Grand Prix.
The renowned race is back on track after it ran into sponsorship difficulties and was cancelled in 2009. The Gastown Grand Prix began in 1973 and was held every year until 1993. The race returned in 2002 as the Tour de Gastown and ran until 2008.
“(This) is such a special race for any Canadian who’s ever been able to participate in it,” said 2008 Tour de Gastown champion Andrew Pinfold. “We don’t have that many opportunities to race in front of 30,000 people. You do feel like you’re a Vancouver Canuck when you’re able to race in front of that many people.”
The 1.2-kilometre Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix is the highlight of the B.C. Superweek, which also includes the Tour de White Rock, Tour de Delta, Giro di Burnaby and the UBC Grand Prix.
“(This is) a remarkable series of races that really catapulted a lot of young Canadian cyclists into the professional realm,” said Pinfold, who won’t be racing Wednesday after officially retiring from professional racing last year.
Coquitlam’s Alex Stieda, the first North American ever to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France (1986), said this is a great opportunity for young people to understand more about the sport.
“I only wish that when I was growing up in the 70s that we had these many races to race back-to-back in the Lower Mainland,” Steida said Monday in Vancouver.
B.C. Superweek schedule:
July 10 – UBC Grand Prix (ubcgrandprix.com)
July 11 – Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (globalrelayggp.org)
July 12 – Giro di Burnaby (girodiburnaby.com)
July 13-15 – Tour de White Rock (tourdewhiterock.ca)