One of the most successful cyclists in Tour de White Rock history won’t be competing at this year’s event – but he’s not exactly skipping it without good reason.
Instead of competing at BC Superweek – which includes the Tour de Delta, UBC Grand Prix, Gastown Grand Prix, Giro de Burnaby and Tour de White Rock – Langley native Svein Tuft, 36, will be making his debut at the prestigious Tour de France, after being named to Team Orica-GreenEdge’s nine-man team.
The Tour de France stage race runs June 29 until July 21.
“Svein is a world-class time-trialer,” said Orica-GreenEdge sport director Matt White in a release.
“He’ll be crucial for our team time trial ambitions. He’s a strong guy with a huge amount of power to chase breakaways or look after the sprint train. We can use him in a lot of ways. I’m really looking forward to taking him to his first Tour de France.”
Tuft is an eight-time Canadian national time-trial champion and has won multiple BC Superweek events, dating back to his debut on the series in 2001.
He also represented Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
And though excited about his new opportunity to compete on cycling’s grandest stage, he admits it’s tough to miss out on returning to the Lower Mainland.
“I really look forward to BC Superweek because my cycling roots are here, my best memories have always been this type of racing, and it’s a chance to race in my hometown in front of friends and family,” Tuft said. “I don’t get that opportunity much in Europe, so it’s a real treat to come back and race.”
Joining Tuft on the Tour de France start line this year, will be fellow Canadians David Veilleux of Quebec, who beat Tuft in a sprint at the 2010 Tour de Delta, as well as Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal.
Tuft won last year’s Tour de White Rock criterium, and finished fourth in the 130-km road race, wowing crowds as he overcame an early mechanical issue that nearly knocked him from the race.
“A few more laps and I could have maybe caught them,” he said at the time.
This year’s Tour de White Rock is set for July 12-14, beginning with the hill climb on Friday (July 12), and continuing with Saturday’s criterium in uptown White Rock and Sunday’s Peace Arch News Road Race.
For more on BC Superweek, visit www.bcsuperweek.ca