More than 2,100 cyclists took to Greater Victoria streets and paths Saturday as part of Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria returned.
The annual event is in its ninth year and welcomed riders from eight provinces, 11 U.S. states and 10 countries.
Advanced riders participated in a 160-kilometre race while others could participate in races ranging from 15 kilometres to 140 kilometres. A kids ride was also scheduled.
Cyclists were all smiles as they sped through Langford, having just finished a loop through Colwood and Metchosin. Many of them gave a thumbs up as they rode by while others exclaimed what a blast they were having.
“We started the Tour de Victoria to introduce more people to cycling and to promote the healthy lifestyle and environmental benefits of riding,” said tour director Seamus McGrath in a statement. “This ride welcomes cyclists of all ages and abilities. It’s a ride for everyone.”
Hesjedal, who is now retired, also took part. He is famous for his 2012 Giro d’Italia win and his fifth place finish at the 2010 Tour de France. He grew up in the Highlands, Colwood and Metchosin and now lives in Victoria.
Hesjedal started Tour de Victoria as a way to give back to the local cycling community and get more people involved in the sport.
“It’s great to see the Tour de Victoria grow and become a fixture. It’s not an easy endeavour to put on a safe, enjoyable event of this size. It takes a small army to pull this off,” Hesjedal explained. “The event wouldn’t be possible without the support of the many volunteers, partners, sponsors and communities involved. It’s coming up on 10 years next year, which is pretty phenomenal.”
-With files from Rick Stiebel