This year marks 42 years of the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (GPP). There is a long and rich history behind the Canadian Pro 1/2 criterium race ever since it began in 1973— when Vancouver native and bike racer, Dr. Roger Sumner, came up with the idea to showcase Canada’s cycling talent.
The first race was held in 1973, and winner Bill Wild won a colour TV. In comparison, this year’s purse is $50,000 with the grand prize for both men and women at $12,000 each. By 1976, 122 elite cyclists were signed up to race in the GGP.
Female cyclists began to compete during the 1980s when the women’s category was introduced. Canadian cyclist Verna Buhler won the first female title in 1982, her first win, and would go on to repeat another two times.
In the ’90s, younger generations began to dominate the Grand Prix. They began to beat out the more experienced cyclists, using the GGP as an opportunity to challenge more veteran racers. Jonas Carney, a 19-year-old U.S. racer, won the event in 1990 and 22 year-old John Mckinley took home the title in 1992.
In 1994, due to a lack of sponsorship, the GGP took a nine year hiatus, but when it returned, 28,000 people lined up through the streets of Gastown eager to watch the race. Mark McCormack of the Saturn Pro team won the $10,000 prize money. By 2006, the event was attracting 40,000 spectators who all came to watch the racers compete for $15,000 in prize money.
In 2014, 130 racers competed for the $13,000 grand prize. Luke Keough won first place in men’s and Leah Kirchmann won in women’s.
Where: From Water Street at Cambie Street to West Cordova and along Cordova to Carrell, down Carrall and left on Water St. to Cambie.
When: Wednesday, July 15; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
1979 Gastown Grand Prix champion David Watkins (left) and Stan Walden (right)
Vancity Buzz is a proud media partner of the Gastown Grand Prix