Organizers couldn't contain their excitement at a press conference Thursday to announce the Tour de Delta's road race has become an internationally sanctioned event.
"To be hosting a world class, international cycling race is very exciting. We're going to see some great cycling, not that we haven't already, but it's just getting better," said Tour de Delta co-chair Cal Traversy.
The Switzerland-based International Cycling Union, cycling's world governing body, is sanctioning the White Spot | Delta Road Race, it was announced at the event held at municipal hall.
It will be the only UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale)-sanctioned road race in B.C., said Tour de Delta race director Mark Ernsting, adding that top level American pro teams will want to attend to obtain UCI points.
"This will give the event greater media exposure, elevated sponsor profiles as well as the profile of the sport not only in B.C. but Western Canada."
He noted the format of the Tour de Delta weekend (July 5 to 7 in 2013) would change slightly. The three races (two criteriums and the road race) will be run independently as opposed to the previous stage race format.
"This will allow us to hold the road race as a separate event under the UCI rules and guidelines," Ernsting said.
The route for the road race will also change with an unofficial 12-kilometre circuit already identified. It will be contained entirely in Tsawwassen with South Delta Secondary serving as the start and finish point.
Previous road races saw competitors start in North Delta and head into Tsawwassen for the closing circuit.
Ernsting said spectators will now be able to see the athletes do more laps.
"We want to continue with the tradition of making the races as exciting and family friendly as possible."
Mayor Lois Jackson said the Tour de Delta has "built great community pride and has become a premier cycling event."
Cycling Canada president John Tolkamp was also at Thursday's event. He called the announcement significant and said having a UCI-sanctioned race here would stimulate new teams and further investment in teams in Western Canada.
"For Canada, for our national team, it has significant implications. The points that our riders can now earn here with a home field advantage go a long ways to actually giving us extra spots at world championships and the Olympics."
Delta estimates hosting the UCI-sanctioned race will have an additional $25,000 cost.
Parks, recreation and culture director Ken Kuntz noted White Spot has already agreed to increase its sponsorship.
"We've applied for some grants and we're seeking other community sponsors so we don't think it will have any impact whatsoever in terms of the cost to the taxpayers," Kuntz said.
The Tour de Delta started in 2001 and is part of B.C. Superweek, Canada's biggest cycling series.
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