February 11, 2013 (Montreal, QC) – Important details were revealed here today for the inaugural 2013 edition of the Montréalaise cyclo-sportive (three mass recreational rides) planned for the Montreal region on Saturday, Sept. 14. A press conference on Feb. 12 in Quebec City marks the official launch of la Québécoise being held on Sept. 12.
Participants might include former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, Canadian opposition leader Thomas Mulcair, the entire Garneau-Quebecor road team, and former pro cyclist Steve Bauer as noted by organizer Serge Arsenault.
Arsenault and his team are also staging the fourth edition of the Grands Prix Cycliste Quebec et Montreal (GPCQM) WorldTour races in 2013, and the two Cyclo-sportive are part of the overall plan to mobilize more cycling in the province beyond the scope of the pro racing.
Joining Arsenault at the conference table were: Bernard Vallet (organizer of the Ardéchoise cyclo-sportive ride in France); Pierre Dion (TVA); Richard Deschamps (Montreal Executive Committee member responsible for sports and leisure); Charles Lapointe (Tourisme Montreal); Joseph Adamo (VP, marketing at Transat); and Richard Remy (Sur la Route Voyages). But perhaps it was the absence of a familiar face that was most remarkable. Well-known sports commentator Richard Garneau (1930-2013) was invariably the master of ceremonies at previous Arsenault conferences, but passed away recently and Randy Fergusson took his place today.
“Garneau has covered some 23 Olympic Games,” said Fergusson. “He was the long time voice of Radio Canada’s La Soirée du hockey and, in the 1960s, was the first Canadian journalist to cover the Tour de France.”
Vallet, who wore the King of the Mountain jersey at the 1982 TdF, spoke about the circuit of the September 13 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal as being among the “most highly-rated circuits in the world of cycling.” Vallet mentioned that numerous epic cycling races had been held on Mount Royal and on Park Avenue, including the 1974 UCI World Championships (the RR was won by Belgian Eddy Merckx) and the 1976 Olympics (where the RR was won by Bernt Johansson of Sweden).
Vallet described the Ardéchoise ride in France – at 15,000 participants – as the second-most popular cyclo-sportive event in the world after one in South Africa. And Vallet now also has a major role in organizing Arsenault’s cyclo-sportive rides.
“I expect the slowest riders to roll along at some 18 to 20 kmh,” suggested Vallet. “Meanwhile, the strongest riders might ride at about 35 to 38 kmh. And I recommend that participants ride a minimum of 1,500 to 2,000km during the cycling season before attempting these cyclo-sportives.”
Participants at this year’s Ardéchoise ride in France will all receive a brochure for the Montréalaise and Québécoise rides. Vallet said that he is now working as the ambassador in Europe for the Canadian cyclo-sportive rides. At this point Arsenault interrupted, saying, “…no, you have to SELL them to Europeans!”
Despite the joke, Arsenault stressed that his organization is promoting quality rather than quantity for now. “We will not be trying to break the attendance record for at least five years!” he told Pedal after the conference.
Adamo spoke about the importance of cycle tourism to his airline, which has been an associate of the GPCQM since the beginning. He noted that each year Transat flies half a million tourists to Montreal and developing market niches-such as cycle tourism-is helping to boost these numbers. Air Transat is developing its own packages which combine cycling, gastronomy, and museum visits for both Montreal and for Quebec City.
Some journalists wondered if there is too much competition between similar cyclo-sportive events each summer in Quebec. Arsenault responded that his people looked at what other groups had organized on the calendar and did not find a conflict. Pedal asked the same question of Jacques Sennéchael, whose Vélo Mag publication sponsors a similar ride the following weekend near Trois-Rivières and he quickly agreed with Arsenault: “It’s only February and we are already full for our September event and have started a waiting list!”
Details of the Quebecoise ride will be revealed in Quebec City on Feb. 12, but in the meantime here are the details of the Montrealaise ride:
Event: la Montréalaise (cyclosportive)
Date: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Starting/finish point: Park Avenue, Montreal
General route: South to Nun’s Island, over St. Lawrence River, through south shore farmland and back to Park Ave.
Distances (horizontal in km/vertical in m): 95km/170m; 145km/226m; 190km/529m
Services provided: first aid, feeding posts, electronic chip, timing, toilets & showers, hot lunch at finish line, sweep truck, diploma, souvenir jersey
Open to: all over the age of 16
Expected average speed: between 18 and 38 kmh
Cost per registrant: $125 (early bird registration)