August 04, 2011 – Ontario is the destination for 1,800 cyclists taking part in Vélo Québec’s Grand Tour Desjardins, from Saturday, August 6 to Friday, August 12, 2011. For the first time, Ontario will play host to the Grand Tour Desjardins that is an annual supported cycling tour that has shaped and celebrated Quebec’s cycling culture since its 1993 launch. The cyclists, from Quebec and other parts of the world, will use a 600-km route that combines Ontario’s Waterfront Trail and the Rideau Heritage Route, and the Thousands Islands, visiting five communities along the way: Brockville, Perth, Napanee, Belleville, Kingston.
“Ontario is becoming a recognized cycling destination. The arrival of 1,800 cyclists in Vélo Québec’s Grand Tour Desjardins is a signal of the progress we are making. This is an important opportunity to welcome Quebec cyclists and show them that Ontario is a wonderful cycling destination, given that Quebec cyclists spend $139 million annually on touring.” notes Justin Lafontaine, Project Director of Transportation Options.
“For a few years now, cyclists have been asking us to hold the Grand Tour Desjardins in Ontario. We spent a lot of time examining this possibility in order to come up with an ideal itinerary highlighting the most beautiful areas of southern Ontario, while offering a selection of optional routes for cyclists of different levels,” explains Joëlle Sévigny, Executive Director of Vélo Québec Voyages et Événements.
The seven-day itinerary includes:
DAY 1 | Saturday, August 6 | 81 to 121 km | Brockville to Perth
DAY 2 | Sunday, August 7 | 111 to 150 km | Perth to Napanee
DAY 3 | Monday, August 8 | 98 to 121 km | Napanee to Belleville
DAY 4 | Tuesday, August 9 | 104 to 186 km | loop around Belleville
DAY 5 | Wednesday, August 10 | 118 to 152 km | Belleville to Kingston
DAY 6 | Thursday, August 11 | 32 to 89 km | loop around Kingston
DAY 7 | Friday, August 12 | 91 to 137 km | Kingston to Brockville
To give the visiting Quebec cyclists a sense of Ontario’s many cycling opportunities, the Ministry of Tourism has provided funding to Transportation Options and the Waterfront Regeneration Trust to set up a mobile Welcome Cyclists Information Pavilion. Staffed with bilingual ambassadors from the Rideau Heritage Route, the Pavilion will give visiting cyclists a sense of many cycling opportunities in Ontario. The Pavilion also offers information about local attractions in the five host towns for those times when cyclists want a change of pace.
The Grand Tour Desjardins is produced by Vélo Québec Événements and its travel agency, Vélo Québec Voyages, with the participation of Mouvement Desjardins and in partnership with Ontario Tourism, VIA Rail Canada and RONA. Vélo Québec is a non-profit organization that has played an important role on the Quebec cycling scene for more than 40 years. It constantly encourages the use of bicycles – whether for recreation, tourism or as a clean, active mode of transportation – in order to improve the environment, health and wellbeing of citizens. Vélo Québec is the architect, under the aegis of the Ministère des Transports, of the Route verte – North America’s largest bikeway – criss-crossing more than 4,300 km of Quebec. Vélo Québec reaches over 200,000 biking enthusiasts each year through a range of diversified activities. For more information click HERE.