You know youve arrived when your name appears above the title.
Ryder Hesjedals Tour de Victoria was unveiled for June 24, even though the cyclist likely wont be here to take part in the event that is more a community ride than a race.
Hesjedal will be in the midst of a busy 2012 season which includes the Tour de France, Giro dItalia and London Summer Olympics and is not expected to have the time to be part of his namesake hometown event. But his name still carries enough weight in cycling that organizers didnt hesitate to name the Tour after the Colwood-raised two-time Olympian who was seventh in the 2010 Tour de France and 18th last year.
Its really humbling for me to see my name up on a graphic like that, said Hesjedal, during a press conference Thursday.
Obviously, I would love to do the Victoria ride. But its not about me. Its about the ride.
Last years inaugural Tour de Victoria, which organizers say attracted nearly 1,500 participants, was built on Hesjedals participation. The second year of the Tour, which has a new major sponsor in GoodLife Fitness, will rely on his reputation.
Last years event was a highlight for me and a dream come true, said Hesjedal, who has been anointed by defending Tour de France team champion Garmin-Cervelo as its feature rider for 2012.
You can see already what its already grown into. It promotes a healthy lifestyle and promotes Victoria, the community that created me and made me what I am as a cyclist.
Victoria Tour director Seamus McGrath said he hopes to have 3,000 cyclists for this years event.
Thats a lofty goal but weve seen what Whistler accomplished with 7,000 cyclists in the second year of its ride, said McGrath, an Olympian and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist in mountain biking.
Once people see how great cycling is in Victoria, our tour could easily grow that big. Its a matter of getting those [Whistler event] cyclists to Victoria.
McGrath announced a number of changes from last years inaugural Tour de Victoria, including the switch from a Saturday to a Sunday to minimize traffic disruptions.
The change from a May date to June was made with Alberta and Eastern riders in mind because of the several months of training that cyclists need outdoors for the 140-kilometre ride.
And last year we had a cool and wet day with some riders getting hypothermic despite that it was May 28, said McGrath.
The new date also avoids conflicts with the busy Swiftsure sailing weekend.
There will be three starting locations this year with the 140-kilometre ride beginning in Victoria, the 100-kilometre event starting in Langford and the newly-added 50-kilometre ride starting in Sidney.
The finish line for all races will remain on Belleville Street in front of the legislature.
Registration is now open at www.tourdevictoria.com.
Organizers said a detailed route map will be made available at that website in the coming weeks.
Hesjedal, meanwhile, leaves today for the Tour Down Under in Australia.
When a world-class team such as Garmin-Cervelo says they have general classification [lead rider] ambitions for you, thats huge recognition, said Hesjedal.
Hesjedal plans to trade Garmin club colours for a national team jersey at the Olympics. Canada has earned only one berth in the mens road race at London and its hard to imagine that spot not going to Hesjedal easily Canadas most recognized figure in cycling.
The Olympic road race is six days after the end of the Tour de France and Ill see how much energy is left for London, said Hesjedal.
Canada has only one spot for the road race and I feel I am capable of representing that spot, but well see what happens. I have been at the front of the San Sebastian [single-day road race held annually on the Saturday immediately following the Tour de France] three years in a row and am capable of doing that.
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