Ryder Hesjedal poses with his bike following a press conference announcing the June 24 date for the second annual Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria.

Tour de Victoria gears up for 2012

The 2012 Tour de Victoria will be short one Ryder.

The 2012 Tour de Victoria will be short one Ryder.

West Shore native, Olympian and Tour de France competitor Ryder Hesjedal, who helped launch the tour last year, will miss out due to his training schedule.

“I was able to be here last year in the inaugural ride. Unfortunately, if everything goes to plan and I’m in form and back in the tour after the Tour of Italy, I won’t be able to be at the ride,” Hesjedal said at the launch event last week.

This year’s Tour de Victoria will take place on June 24, allowing participants plenty of time for spring training.

“A huge highlight for me to have this ride exist and happen the way it did and to be able to be there … was a dream come true,” Hesjedal said.

“My vision for the ride is not only to promote the amazing region of Victoria, the place that created me, that made me who I am as a cyclist, but also to promote a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

The 2011 Tour de Victoria attracted 1,350 cyclists from as far away as Nova Scotia and Texas. Upward of 800 riders registered for the 140-kilometre course, about 400 for the 90-km and 150 participants cycled the four-kilometre community ride in downtown Victoria.

More than 500 volunteers were involved, including more than 300 road marshals, who ensured vehicle traffic and cyclists didn’t mix at intersections throughout 13 municipalities.

“This is a fabulous ride … just the energy and the spirit in this community for cycling is amazing,” said Victoria-based Olympian and GoodLife Kids Champion Silken Laumann.

“The Tour de Victoria just centralized that, got everybody so enthusiastic about those longer rides and it was really a goal for many individuals to ride.”

Funds raised through the 2012 Tour de Victoria will support the GLKF grant program.

“At GoodLife Kids Foundation we really want to share and to build enthusiasm for fitness in young people. It’s incredibly important for me to see the enthusiasm and passion for fitness growing at an early age,” Laumann said.

GoodLife Kids Foundation supports groups that get kids active.

“(Exercise) can’t just be about hard work, can’t just be about being fit. It’s got to be about having fun, about playing and finding that joy in moving our bodies,” Laumann said.

“I know that’s what got all of us as Olympians into sport, because it was fun.”

For more information regarding the GoodLife Kids Foundation grant program, visit www.goodlifekids.com.

What’s new?

One of the biggest changes in the 2012 Tour de Victoria is the date. The tour will happen June 24, one month earlier than last year.

Other alterations for 2012 include course and distance changes, and the addition of the 50-kilometre Tour de Victoria. The 90-km tour gains 10 km to become the 100-km Tour de Victoria.

In order to include more Greater Victoria communities in the event, the start line of the 100-km ride has been moved to City Centre Park in Langford. The new 50-km distance starts at Parkland secondary school in North Saanich and welcomes those aged 16 and up. The 140 km ride will start at the legislature.

All three distances will be timed from start to finish in 2012.

The 140-km and 100-km riders will also be timed on the locally-feared Munn’s Road hill climb in Highlands.

All three distances will finish at the same point, the B.C. legislature in downtown Victoria, where riders will enter a welcoming festival environment. Those not riding are invited to Victoria’s Inner Harbour to cheer the riders on.

For more see www.tourdevictoria.com.

sports@goldstreamgazette.com