Changes are in store for the Tour de White Rock this summer.
The popular cycling series, part of BC Superweek and held annually every July, will revert to a Saturday-Sunday schedule, as opposed to last year’s event, which ran from Friday afternoon until Saturday.
This year, the criterium race – in which riders zip around a tight course in uptown White Rock – will be staged Saturday, July 16, and the Peace Arch News Road Race will be pushed back to Sunday morning, the day it was traditionally held prior to 2015.
Last year’s scheduling change was a result of organizers cancelling the Friday hill-climb, thus shortening the event by a day. Reverting back to an all-weekend schedule should make it easier for families and racing fans to attend both races, especially the criterium, say organizers.
“The (organizing) board felt that Saturday was just a better day to get people out,” said John Stech, a City of White Rock community recreation co-ordinator who is also a Tour de White Rock race organizer.
“Last year, we’d thought we’d get people out (on Friday) but it just didn’t quite happen. This way, with it back on a Saturday, most people are off (work) so you don’t have to leave early to see the race.”
By bumping the Tour de White Rock back one day, it also better aligns the event with the rest of BC Superweek.
This year, Superweek begins with the three-day Tour de Delta from July 8-10, followed by rest days for the riders Monday and Tuesday, the Gastown Grand Prix Wednesday, Giro di Burnaby Thursday, the new Port Coquitlam Grand Prix Friday and then the two White Rock events on the weekend.
The Port Coquitlam race replaces the UBC Grand Prix, which was previously held earlier in the week.
The scheduling realignment should keep some of the top riders participating throughout the entire circuit; in previous years, some competitors have left midweek, after participating in some of the week’s better-paying events, such as the Gastown Grand Prix.
“Now that the PoCo race has been moved to a Friday, it eliminates what was a rest day before the Tour de White Rock. Now we have… five straight days of racing, so hopefully it gives (riders) more of a reason to stay, and keeps them here,” Stech said.
This year’s Tour de White Rock will also feature a new title sponsor – Steve Nash Sports Club.
“It’s a perfect fit for us, with regard to health and wellness, and healthy living,” Stech said, adding that the fitness club is also partnering with organizers to launch a re-designed Tour de White Rock website later this year.