The Tour de France – the most revered of the Grand Tours, a pinnacle of bike racing and the ultimate physical challenge as the riders cycle 3,497 kms around France. For 21 days, the cameras of the world are on France as the greatest bike race passes amazing chateaux, beautiful landscapes and the breathtaking, lung and leg busting Pyrenees and Alps.
The racing itself is full of excitement. Since I first started to watch the tour, there have never been so many contenders. The race is on for the green and yellow jerseys as well as the polka dot King of the Mountain and white jerseys – so much excitement…..I would love to be there in person, but for now, it is not in the cards!
Luckily, the UCI ProTour is coming back to Canada. For one glorious weekend of bike racing, the magic of the Tour will hit the roads of Quebec City and Montreal. The excitement of the peloton and the stars of the racing world will be coming to us in September.
In 2010, the dream of bringing cycling’s international élite across the Atlantic became a reality. A major North American premiere. The presentation on Québec soil of not just one, but two events on the International Cycling Union’s prestigious WorldTour circuit, the sport’s highest level of competition, which includes the most legendary races in the world.
September 7 and September 9, 2012 mark the return of the pro peloton to Quebec and Montreal respectively! The action is so close, you can feel the riders as they race by. The two Quebec courses are ideal for spectating – unlike the Tour which operates on as a point to point race, the Canadian races run on a circuit course – over 5 hours, the pack passes by over a dozen times….the course is compact enough that you can actually walk the entire route and see the riders as they handle the cobbles, corners and climbs… A crowd favourite at the Quebec City race – Le Chemin de la Montagne – a nasty, leg busting climb…perfect place for an attack as riders grind their way to the top. Check out “The Boys Are Back In Town” – a video of the racers climbing up from the St Lawrence to the historic Old Town, Quebec City.
The crowds on Montreal’s Mount Royal, formerly the stage for the Women’s World Cup series, gather to watch the world’s best climb. In only 2 years here in Montreal, spectators gathering on Mount Royal is like a family reunion of cyclists – it is hard to walk very far before running into the same familiar faces from riding at home or watching the Quebec City edition.
Both Montreal and Quebec really get to showcase themselves as destinations beyond the races. Both cities have a European feel and flair all their own. This September, hundreds of thousands of cycling enthusiasts will be making their way to watch the race. The excitement will reach fever pitches as the races evolve with only one man standing at the top of the podium at the end of the day. Will it be Peter Sagan – this young rider is proving to be quite the champion, first week of this year’s Tour de France and he has already won 2 stages and has finished on the podium in Canada before? Perhaps it will be Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal bringing home the top position on the podium….only time will tell.
For those heading to the races – you are in for a treat. My favourite – Quebec City – the course and the views are amazing. The course is so diverse. It is also happens to be my favourite city in Canada – such a great atmosphere and European feel. Wander around the Plains of Abraham, take in a dinner at one of the many restaurants along Grand Allee or head into Old Town or Vieux Quebec. The racers stay at the historic Chateau Frontenac (a bucket list hotel if I ever saw one!!!), but there are many options in town. Last year we ran into a few of the guys out shopping after the race.
Need more convincing – check out the awesome highlights video from 2011 – with all the action. Will you be there for 2012?
For the more budget conscious around Quebec City, check out Sainte Foy for hotel options.