Up to 100 of the fastest cyclists in Nova Scotia are expected to compete for top honours and big cash prizes this weekend at the expanded Cape Breton Classic Road Race.
Hosted by the Framework Racing Team, the third annual Cape Breton Classic is the only cycling race held in Cape Breton for semi-pro, elite and intermediate skilled riders that is sanctioned by Bicycle Nova Scotia.
This year, for the first time ever, the Classic will expand into the streets of Sydney and include a former steel plant site when it opens its two-day, three stage event on Saturday, August 27.
The first two stages this Saturday will involve a 9km Time Trial where each rider will leave at a staggered time, starting at 1 pm, near the Sydport Industrial Park. Those who rank the fastest will have a slight advantage when they enter the second stage which begins at 4 pm, at the former Sydney Steel site.
After a night of rest, the third stage and final stage will be held Sunday and will involve up to 115 km of racing on roads over gruelling hills surrounding the Barachois Mountain, near Georges River.
“We decided to expand the race this year in hopes of growing the sport of cycling in Cape Breton,” said Framework Racing president Bill Goldston. “Cyclists in Cape Breton are really lucky as we ride some of the toughest and most beautiful roads in the province so we’re hoping others will come out to enjoy them too and hopefully help expand the tourist season.” It’s the first time ever in the 100 year history of Sysco that a sporting event of this calibre has been held on ground where hot steel once poured into rails.
Following on the heels of the successful Blue Rodeo concert, the paved roads surrounding a new track and lighted tennis court provides an ideal course for the second stage “crit” or Criterium as it’s known in the cycling world. Racers will start together elbow-to-elbow to complete up to 25 laps of that 1.2 km city block at Sysco and those standing on the sidelines will see cyclists vying for top spot at speeds which average more than 40 km/per hour.
“We’re really excited to be part of the action involving so many of the province’s top athletes,” said Harbourside Park president Gary Campbell who has been involved in the provincially-lead cleanup for more than two decades. “It’s a nice milestone to see and those who decide to take in the action in Sydney will have a great vantage point to see all the race action no matter where they stand on that block.”
Now called Harbourside Park, the former Sysco site has been transforming into a green site in recent years as part of the $400 million cleanup effort announced by the province of Nova Scotia and government of Canada in the early 2000s.
Unique to Bicycle Nova Scotia’s 2011 season, this three-part race Cape Breton Classic is expected to be one of the highlights featuring some of the best including Framework Racing’s own Ambrose Delaney who chopped up the summer race circuit in North America in fine style, placing in the top 10 at international events including the America’s Cup in Quebec last month where he won the final stage.
Combined times of the three stages will produce overall winners in six divisions including those for women, youth and men. Like other races in Bicycle Nova Scotia’s season this summer, participants will be classified by their ability, or sex. Participants must be licensed which can be obtained at registration.