Black Diamond plays key role in Tour
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 09:18 am
Black Diamond is expecting its biggest influx of visitors yet after it was selected to play a vital role in Canada’s first major international pro cycling event.
The foothills community is the starting and finishing point in the fourth stage of the inaugural Tour of Alberta pro cycling event and is ready to entertain an estimated 12,000 people with a full day of activities on Sept. 7.
The community was originally selected to be the start point for the fourth leg of the event on Sept. 7. Riders were supposed to end their journey in Canmore, but safety concerns prompted changes after major sections of Highway 40 were damaged by the June 20 flood.
Now, Black Diamond is the only community to serve as a start and finish for a stage in the Tour of Alberta.
“They called us and said they were so impressed with our ability to organize (events for the day) they felt we could handle the start and finish,” said David Petrovich, Town of Black Diamond Economic Development and Events Coordinator. “They had faith in us.”
The 900 km race has stops in Edmonton, Devon, Red Deer, Strathmore, Drumheller, Black Diamond, Okotoks and Calgary between Sept. 3 and 8. It will feature some of the best professional cycling teams in the world with competitors from as many as 20 different countries.
Petrovich said plans have been underway for months to show the world what Black Diamond has to offer.
“We have the most responsibility being the smallest town and having a start and finish,” he said. “We wanted to make sure the world knows what Black Diamond is all about.”
Planning and preparations were put on hold temporarily when portions of the community flooded in the June 20 flash flood, Petrovich said.
“Because of the flood we are behind three weeks,” he said. “We are right now in makeup time. We were ahead of the game before the floods so we are now more on track with what everybody else is doing.”
Petrovich said the Town is planning three festivals, children’s activities, bus transportation in the community, beer gardens and fireworks. Details are listed at www.blackdiamondtourofalberta.ca
On Sept. 6 and 7, a beer garden featuring food, beverages and live music will take place in the outdoor arena behind the Oilfields Regional Arena from 6 p.m. to midnight with entertainment by performers the Backyard Betties and Rachelle van Zanten.
The Sept. 7 festivities take place in the fields at C. Ian McLaren School.
The Riverwood Estates Festival of Arts will feature the talent and work of local artists, art demonstrations, a wine garden and live performances by local talents including The Travelling Mabels.
Local merchants will have booths set up and the Lifestyle and Fitness Festival will feature related performances, demonstrations and activities, said Petrovich.
Food will be in abundance with food trucks and barbecues and souvenirs available for purchase by the Tour of Alberta and Black Diamond.
The event will end with a professional fireworks display at dusk.
The cyclists are scheduled to start the day’s race just after noon at the location of the festivities and return at around 5 p.m. They will head north on Highway 22 toward Bragg Creek and cycle back toward Millarville on a 60km circuit that gives way to a smaller 40km circuit further east that is done twice and then back on Highway 22 to Black Diamond. The challenging route boasts rolling hills and steep climbs.
The event will be broadcast live in Canada on Sportsnet and internationally on various networks.
“Unless (the Tour of Alberta) stays in Black Diamond we will never see something this big again,” Petrovich said. “This is a huge event. If you look at the magnitude of the viewership it’s unprecedented the coverage that we’re going to get. That kind of coverage is what really puts a smaller town on the map. We are absolutely thrilled.”
Petrovich said the Tour of Alberta could be a big economic boost for the community.
“I believe that Black Diamond is going to become an official spot for cyclists to start testing what they can do and how fast they can do the route,” he said. “I believe, over time, that will be part of a much larger tourism group that will be coming to Black Diamond.”
Petrovich said the town might even see an increase in population as a result of its role in the Tour of Alberta.
“Events like this attract people who want to live in these locations as well,” he said. “I believe we are going to have people more interested in moving here once they see what we’re all about.”
Preparations for the festivities will continue over the next few weeks and volunteers are still needed to help out with a variety of tasks throughout the day. Those interested in volunteering with such tasks as course marshaling, security and parking can contact David Petrovich at 403-933-4348 or go to www.blackdiamondtourofalberta.ca
To learn more about the Tour of Alberta go to www.tourofalberta.ca