Millions of viewers worldwide are going to tune into their television sets to watch the Tour of Alberta bike race.
And Ponoka is on the route.
The full entourage is expected to race through the town Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. and 120 international racers with 40 support vehicles are going to make their way along 50th Street, says Wes Amendt, director of community services.
Police and town staff have been preparing for road closures along the route, which takes racers on the second stage of the five-stage tour. Bikers will travel 185 kilometres from Devon to Red Deer, passing through Ponoka.
The biggest concern on the day of the tour is traffic control and organizers are seeking 40 to 50 volunteers to help with set up and clean up. Amendt received the request last week.
Organizers expect 40 to 60 million viewers around the world and approximately five million from Canada.
The race will be live on Sportsnet with highlights played throughout the day.
Amendt hopes to take advantage of the publicity. “We’ll try to get some signage out there.”
“We encourage people to line the streets. Come and watch,” he added.
There was no budget set for this but town workers have been fixing up potholes along the route and street sweepers will be clearing the roads the morning of the race. “Their main concern is that the roads are clear,” said Amendt.
Letters have been hand delivered to residents and businesses along the route and Sarah Olson, economic development officer, looks forward to the potential publicity of the event. “There’s an opportunity for people from the surrounding areas to come into our town.”
That and the international coverage is something she looks forward too. The letter she provided businesses owners encourages them to consider ways they can promote their shops.
“It’s a community pride thing,” said Olson.
Volunteers will receive a gift from the town for their efforts and T-shirts will be supplied to those who can help out. “We’re putting together a little care package/courtesy bag for the volunteers.”
Some information has come last minute to the town as organizers had to re-assess routes in southern Alberta, which has left them behind on some planning. The race route will take bikers south on Highway 2A, east on 57 Avenue and then south on 50 Street through downtown. Bikers will then head east on Highway 53 and south past the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury.
Eventually racers will head south on Secondary Highway 815 and make their way to Red Deer.
For more information check out the website: http://tourofalberta.ca/site/. If interested in volunteering contact the town office.