Slagter wins second stage
The Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial entered its second day in the Canadian Rockies and Jasper National Park on September 5. The Stage win, his second and consecutive, went to Tom-Jelte Slagter, one of the Dutch rider’s in the Cannondale-Garmin team. He finished just four seconds ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) and Lancastrian (UK) Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), a trio that jostled for poll-position in the closing 500m of the steep climb up to the finish at Marmot Basin Ski Resort. “I’m glad I won”, Slagter said in the post-race conference. Mollema retained the General Category (GC) lead.
Adjusting to the temperature
No doubt Tom-Jelte Slagter also liked how things warmed up a tad during race time. When the peloton was preparing to set off from Jasper it was still minus 2C. Many of the athletes rode up to the sign-in along Connaught Drive layered up. Many had toques under their helmets and scarves across their faces, looking more like engine-powered bikers. By end of race, it must have been in the 20’s in the bright sunshine that broke through the earlier cloud bank smothering the valley floor. When asked if he had any special ways to adjust to that big temperature change, Bauke Mollema simply said “I had a great day!”
Dutch training for the mountains
Tom-Jelte Slagter, who now has both of his season’s stage wins from the Canadian mountains was asked how it is that guys from the Netherlands, where it is mostly flat country, can climb so well? “Well, there’s a lot of wind in Holland-it’s good training for the mountains”.
This fourth stage of the tour took just over four hours of riding three times around a stunningly beautiful course either side of the Athabasca, the mighty river that flows north from the toe of the Athabasca Glacier eventually discharging into the Arctic Ocean.
Bauke Mollema, who retained the Yellow Jersey after his second placing said “It was a great day. Pure nature and that motivated me.” Parks Canada should be feeling duly proud to hear that and to see pedal power in the parks being promoted to a higher gear. And Travel Alberta should welcome how the Canadian landscape was show-cased by television around a cycling world that knows quite a bit about the Alps and Pyrenees but is poised to learn, indeed want, more of the Rocky Mountains.
Mountains every year
It has taken three rounds of this relatively new competition to get Pro-cycling into the mountains. Plans for a stage over the Highwood Pass between Black Diamond and Canmore had to be ditched in the inaugural 2013 race after the massive southern Alberta spring floods washed away bridges and parts of the road along the route.
Duane Vienneau, Executive Director of the Tour of Alberta acknowledged the “huge support from Parks Canada and the Town of Jasper” and said “we will want to get to the mountains now every year”.
Cycling fans in Canada and beyond await with interest to see what bodes for the National Parks of Jasper, Banff and Waterton in the coming years. There’s a high realm of great routes here awaiting the world’s best cyclists.
For more images from the Tour of Alberta 2015, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography