Sixteenth annual Tour de Delta rolls into North Delta, Ladner and Tsawwassen
The sounds, smells and sights of summer are almost here, but it wouldn’t truly be summer in Delta without the 16th annual Tour de Delta cycling race and festival.
Spanning July 8-10, the event kicks off on the Friday evening with the MK Delta Lands Criterium in the heart of North Delta, followed by Saturday’s exciting Brenco Criterium in historical Ladner Village, and finishing up with the White Spot Delta Road Race in Tsawwassen on Sunday. The latter event sees over 150 pro cyclists tearing through T-town competing for points in the UCI 1.2 (Union Cycliste Internationale) circuit, the only internationally sanctioned pro cycling event in the province.
“That race really engages the community because we use quite a few of the city streets for the course,” says long-time Tour de Delta race director Mark Ernsting, who is a former pro cyclist.
Mark says he encourages residents in the area to invite their friends over to have a barbecue on the front lawn to watch and cheer on the athletes as they speed by in a blur of colours.
Started back in 2001, the Tour de Delta became an official UCI 1.2 event in 2013 for the men, and in 2014 for women. It has grown in popularity each year, and according to Mark it’s due to the broad appeal across both genders and all age groups.
“There’s a few things that are driving it but one particular reason is the opportunity for the youth and kids to become engaged in such events like this,” he says.
Tour de Delta isn’t just a race, but indeed a festival spanning the three communities of Delta. There is a “Kids Crit” for both North Delta and Ladner, and a Youth Race in Ladner with age categories for all the events. There’s also a Tsawwassen Kids Race starting at the South Delta Secondary School track on the day of the UCI events.
Mark says having six to twelve-year-old kids coming to participate and then watch the pros compete offers a dream they can pursue, while the older youth learn about racing with teammates and tactics that help immensely when they become professionals.
However, the other reason Tour de Delta remains a popular event is that unlike many sports, you don’t need to become a spectator in your late twenties and beyond.
“In our sport you can achieve success later in life,” says Mark. “A lot of sports like gymnastics or figure skating, generally you’d have to start very young to be able to have that skillset. Whereas in our sport we’ve had many champions in Canada that really didn’t take up cycling until 19, 20, or 21 years of age, and have since become world renowned in their late twenties and early thirties.”
Indeed, Something Good Magazine profiled pro cyclist Meghan Grant in May, a 33-year-old member of Team Canada from Tsawwassen who intends to compete for her country in the 2020 Olympics.
Mark says older riders – competing in the “Master” categories beginning at age 30 and going all the way to 70+ — find cycling isn’t as difficult on their bodies as other sports, but can still compete at a high level in a sport they enjoy.
“Maybe they can’t run like they used to due to their knees or hips or back or whatever it is, and now on a bike they can get out for an hour or two and leave from home without having to have a gym membership,” he says. “They can just do the exact same thing as running and leave their home or office at any time. It’s convenient for them to head out and be back and continue with regular life.”
For those coming purely to spectate, you’re still in for a big treat. The Tour de Delta has traditionally brought out some big name cyclists, including multiple time Canadian champions Svein Tuft and Christian Meier.
For more information about this event, including maps, start times, registration and more, visit tourdedelta.ca.