Posted by Editoress on 05/31/07
Purse Hikes and New Race Make BC Superweek Richest in Canadian Cycling History
Courtesy Eric Dwyer
More money and more races in more places makes BC Superweek, July 13-21, 2007, the richest week-long cycling event in the century old history of Canadian road racing.
The addition of the Giro Di Burnaby to the BC Superweek lineup, and a significant hike in the Tour de White Rock prize money will raise the purse totals to $60,000. Another $1,000 to $4,000 per event in primes, cash or prizes for winning laps within a race, will push the total available to racers to over $65,000.
"BC Superweek has become truly super with 4 venues and 8 races in 10 days for more than $60,000" says John McMurchy, race director for the Tour de Delta. "We've always attracted many of the top racers in North America but the addition of Burnaby is really going to change the nature and type of racer and teams coming to Delta and all of BC Superweek."
Rita Clarkson, race director of the Tour de White Rock, agrees. "The money is going to draw more teams coming from farther away and they'll each be bringing specialists for the diversity of racing in BC Superweek. We've got two road races, four crits and two hill climbs so not every rider will be competing in every event, just their specialty."
The opening event of BC Superweek, the granddaddy of racing in BC, the Coast Capital Savings Tour de White Rock, July 13, 14, 15, will have a record purse of $15,000. The Tour de Gastown, July 17, which averages crowds of 20,000 to 30,000, will offer $15,000, which includes many of the most lucrative primes. The purse in the Giro Di Burnaby is $10,000 and the closing event, the Tour de Delta, July 20, 21, 22, will be worth $20,000, the richest single event on the Canadian calendar.
"That's fabulous, local riders have never had it this good," says the recently retired Scott Goguen of Coquitlam, who always had to work full time to support his racing habit for the last 22 years. "We raced for fair money back in the late 80's and early 90's but that was only in Gastown. Now we've got a really solid base of races in half a dozen locations making Vancouver the major destination spot for top riders from all over. Even if superstars like Gord Fraser wind up winning all the events, there's a big trickle down effect. A local guy can still make lots of money by finishing in the top 10 in one or more events. I hope they take advantage of the opportunity because the way it's going with races like Burnaby popping up out of nowhere, this could easily develop in BC Super two weeks."
The Giro Di Burnaby was such an overnight success last year that it was quickly added to the BC Superweek lineup. It drew crowds of more than 8,000 in a community without any history or tradition in the sport.
"Burnaby is not a cycle savvy community," admits race organizer, Rainy Kent. "We didn't know what to expect. We were told we would never be able to pull it off. Imagine shutting down Hastings, one of the busiest streets in the Lower Mainland on a Friday night. It was an eerie experience. We were prepared for complete chaos and there was none. Everything went almost perfectly. Some local businessmen weren't thrilled by the idea but when they saw the crowds they changed. Last year they saw the race as an inconvenience. This year we hope they see it as an opportunity to increase the community profile. We are in awe of the way it's worked in Delta and White Rock where it's embraced by the community, the public and the businesses. We hope to double our crowds this year and help build BC Superweek into an event that is the best in Canada."
One of the keys to the unprecedented growth of cycling on the West Coast is the support and co-operation of municipalities in the Lower Mainland. "It used to be a major fight with municipalities to stage races," recalls Goguen. "It was a major battle to get them to shut down streets or reroute traffic for a bike race. To get them onside and also have them contributing money is a major breakthrough."
In White Rock, City Council gave racing a major endorsement by contributing another $7,000 to the purse for a race that has become a landmark event for the community.
"It's made us famous in the bike world," says Clarkson. "We've got a long and proud heritage and tradition. Our road race is acknowledged as one of the toughest in North America. Council recognized that and realized that it's vital for us to increase purses because that's how you keep the good riders and teams coming to White Rock. It's helped create a tremendous synergy with business as well. That's how we got such a terrific new title sponsor in Coast Capital Savings, a firm that's firmly entrenched in the White Rock-Surrey area. It's a wonderful union that's going to beneficial to everyone, the sponsors, the community and the riders but none of this could happen without the continuing municipal support."
McMurchy describes the municipal support as the major reason the West has supplanted the East as the cycling center of Canada. "Our municipal support allows us to do so much more than they do back east where all races are supported by local businessmen and business associations. The integration of municipalities with Cycling BC has allowed us to raise the profile and popularity of cycling, create major events and train volunteers and officials like national commissaires to establish a major infrastructure with all the components necessary for cycling to take off and continue to grow."
For more BC Superweek information visit our website at www.bcsuperweek.ca
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