July 06, 2012 (Penticton, BC) – On Sunday morning (July 8th), British Columbia’s South Okanagan will see 2,500 cyclists take to the roads for the start of the 2nd annual Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan (VFGFAMO). As of Thursday, July 5th, less than 100 spots remain for this mass participation event that attracts cyclists from as far as the Netherlands and Switzerland, and ranging in age from 10-years-old to 85-years-old.
Cyclists will start at 7 a.m. on Sunday, July 8 at Penticton’s Gyro Park before travelling to the District of Summerland and the towns of Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Kaleden. Along for the ride will be event namesake, and former Belgian national cycling champion and Olympic medalist, Axel Merckx; as well as:
- Five-time Tour de France champion and arguably the world’s all-time greatest cyclist, Eddy Merckx;
- Former mountain bike Olympic medalist, Alison Sydor (who returns for a second year);
- Professional triathlete and Penticton local, Jeff Symonds;
- Professional mountain biker and Okanagan native, Evan Guthrie; and,
- Four members of the Bontrager-LIVESTRONG professional cycling team (Gavin Mannion, Ian Boswell, Jasper Stuyven, and Ryan Eastman).
“We kick off the event for a second year at a time when the sport of cycling is on the rise in Canada,” says Axel Merckx. “The excitement surrounding the event is a testament to the hard work by volunteers, organizers, and partners.
“Together with our unbelievable sponsors, such as Valley First, and partners, like the City of Penticton, we hope to offer a few thousand cyclists an epic ride through the amazing Okanagan.”
Partial proceeds from this year’s event benefit both the Feed the Valley initiative (in conjunction with title sponsor, Valley First); and the Axel Merckx Youth Development Foundation.
Many ancillary activities will be centered around Penticton’s Gyro Park, starting with the Tour Breakfast (6 a.m. start) and Kids’ Piccolofondo fun bike race (2 p.m. start) on Saturday, July 7th; and the Granfondo Wine Tasting (6:30 p.m. start) on Sunday, July 8th, following the ride. The Penticton Trade and Convention Centre will host the participant’s Package Pick-Up and Granfondo Cycling Expo on Friday, July 6th, as well as the Granfondo Festa dinner and Cycling BC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on the evening of Saturday, July 7th. The remaining 100 entry spots will be made available for purchase at the Package Pick-Up on Friday and Saturday.
The 2012 Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan (VFGFAMO) is a fully supported ride featuring several categories and distances to challenge cyclists of all levels. The traditional Granfondo spans 160 km, while the shorter Mediofondo and Cortofondo categories feature 92 km and 55 km routes, respectively. This year, the 2012 VFGFAMO has joined the UCI World Cycling Tour as its only North American stop. This new twist in the Granfondo category allows those riders who want to push their competitive limits to do so, and qualify for the chance to race at the UCI World Tour Final in South Africa – and possibly earn a UCI rainbow jersey.
The Granfondo weekend on July 6th to 8th will also feature a full schedule of events leading up to and following the ride. For more information about the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan, visit HERE.