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Canada’s greatest criterium bike race, the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, is hitting the city’s oldest streets tonight.
Watch North America’s top cyclists race wheel-to-wheel on Gastown’s thrilling 1.2 km course with the infamous hairpin corner.
The schedule for todays races includes the following:
- Youth race 5:30 pm
- Opening ceremonies at 5:55 pm
- Women’s race at 6:15 pm (35 laps/42 kms)
- Men’s race at 7:30 pm (50 laps/60 kms)
And to help you see why it’s an event that you don’t want to miss, we’ve compiled a list of 20 reasons you should check it out.
1. It’s a massive party
It’s one of Gastown’s biggest and best parties of the year. With 20,000 spectators, 250 racers, three great races and plenty of pubs, clubs and restaurants to enjoy, Gastown is the place to be on Wednesday July 12.
2. It’s free
As a free event, the price is more than just right – it’s perfect. Now you’ve got extra cash for a delicious pint or a donation to the crowd prize that the riders race for with just a few laps left in the race.
3. Easy to get there
With Gastown just about the easiest and quickest place to get to using pubic transit, leave the car at home and get here by walking, SkyTrain, SeaBus, or any other emissions-free mode of transportation.
4. O Canada
Attending this great Canadian race is a fantastic way to celebrate our nation’s 150th year. This year, the race will kick off a rousing rendition of our national anthem by Vancouver Whitecaps singer Marie Hui.
5. Bike racing is a contact sport
It’s amazing to watch athletes doing something most of us can do, like riding a bike, but doing it at incredibly fast speeds. The Global Relay Gastown Grand prix gives fans a chance to line a racecourse just inches away from professional riders flying by at 50 to 65 km per hour, while bumping elbows and shoulders, and their wheels just inches from each other.
6. Fast pace cars
From Lotus and Maserati to Tesla and Lamborghini, Gastown always features the latest machines on two and four wheels. This year, the race will unveil the Lexus (LC 500) as its newest pace car.
7. Canada’s best
The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix is the place to meet the national team riders who will represent Canada at upcoming Olympic, Commonwealth and Pan American Games.
8. Leah Kirchmann
She’s one of Canada’s top pro riders and a two-time Gastown winner. Leah (Team Sunweb) will be going for a record-tying third victory tomorrow.
9. Great photo ops
The view is great and the action is fast no matter where you shoot from. This amazing shot by Vancouver photographer Stefan Feldmann won him top prize in a worldwide photo competition in 2016.
10. Even the refs are cool
The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix is so hip, even the chief commissaire (referee) is a star. Vancouver’s Wayne Pomario is one of the world’s top cycling officials, who famously fined Lance Armstrong for an infraction during a major race. Lance was not amused.
11. Enjoy a Vancouver sporting tradition
Race fans have made the Gastown Grand Prix one of Vancouver’s favourite events since 1973, when bike shorts were really short and helmets and safety fencing were optional.
12. Rain or shine
The forecast calls for sun tomorrow, but even if it pours, North America’s best riders will be ready to tackle Gastown’s slippery brick roads.
13. Great Course
Gastown has a unique 1.2 km long race course famous for its bricks, cobblestones, signature hairpin turn (at Water and Cordova), historic downtown setting and start-finish line located next to Gastown’s famous Steamclock. The route takes riders up Water Street, around the hairpin turn at Cordova Street and Water Street, down Cordova, around Maple Tree Square and the Gassy Jack statue and back up Water Street.
14. Big money
The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix has the biggest criterium winning prizes in North America with the men and women each racing for a whopping $12,000 winning prize and thousands more for placings and mid-race lap sprints called primes.
15. Looking for a unique way to enjoy a sip of champagne? This is the place
Hit the stage area for the post-race awards ceremony and you might just catch some bubbly or the bouquet of flowers the winners traditionally throw to the crowd.
16. Meet your heroes
Few sports give kids a chance to get so close to their sporting heroes. Race fans in Gastown will have a chance to meet the nicest pro athletes anywhere warming up in Rider Alley before their races (on Abbott Street) and along the course after the races.
17. That famous hairpin
It’s one of the most famous turns in North American bike racing with plenty of thrills, spills and great viewing spots down low and up high in the parkade.
Ever wonder how that turn looked more than one hundred years ago?
18. Canada vs the world
We’ve got more than 230 riders hitting the bricks tomorrow. Taking on riders from seven Canadian provinces will be riders from Australia, England, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, and 17 states across the US.
19. The race has two of the coolest trophies in sport
The men’s trophy is a chamberpot donated by race founder Roger Sumner in the early 1970s, while the women’s trophy was created by Gastown artist and business owner Ross McMillan in 2005.
20. Post race parties
After the race, Gastown has bars and restaurants galore to unwind at and swap stories about an unforgettable evening of racing. You can check out all of the happy hour deals on offer right here.
- The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix is Canada’s most famous criterium bike race. (A multi-lap race held on a short closed course.)
- The international UCI-sanctioned race attracts North America’s top professional and Olympic cyclists.
- The race is sponsored and operated by Global Relay, a high-tech firm in Gastown that has invested $2million in the race across 10 years (2012-2021).
- The race is part of BC Superweek, Canada’s biggest professional cycling series, which features more than $135,000 in prize money with nine races over 10 days. BC Superweek runs from July 7–16 this summer and is made up of the Tour de Delta (July 7 – 9), New West Grand Prix (July 11), Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 12), Giro di Burnaby presented by Appia Development (July 13), PoCo Grand Prix presented by Dominion Lending Centres (July 14), and Steve Nash Fitness World presents Tour de White Rock (July 15 – 16).
- For more information, visit BC Superweek online.
- The race was first held in 1973.
- Since 1973, the Gastown Grand Prix has been won by riders from Canada (33), United States (20), Australia (2), Italy (1), New Zealand (1), Germany (1) and Sweden (1).
- Ron Hayman, Gina Grain and Verna Buhler are tied for most victories with three wins each.
Where: Start/finish line next to Gastown’s steam clock. Spectators can line the route along Water, Cordova, and Carrall streets.
When: Wednesday, July 12
Time: Youth race at 5:30 pm, opening ceremonies at 5:55 pm, women’s race at 6:15 pm, men’s race at 7:30 pm.