GranFondo back this Saturday 

Organizers expect large field for cycling event

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE/TOURISM WHISTLER - GRAND FUN The RBC GranFondo will return with roughly 4,500 riders this Saturday, Sept. 10.
  • Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
  • GRAND FUN The RBC GranFondo will return with roughly 4,500 riders this Saturday, Sept. 10.

Organizers of the RBC GranFondo are expecting big numbers this year.

The race, which runs Saturday from Vancouver's Stanley Park to Whistler Olympic Plaza, is expected to welcome 4,500 riders across a number of divisions.

Organizer Neil McKinnon said the event has grown significantly in the past two years, with an eight-per-cent boost in 2015 and double-digit growth already expected this time.

"We got a phenomenal response this year," he said. "Our numbers are already well ahead of last year.

"I think cycling in general is growing. If you look at the story of healthy lifestyles, look at the story of bike lanes, look at biking as alternate transportation, take a look at clubs and companies getting involved in cycling... I think it was just a matter of time for it to resonate with people."

The shift to cooler, rainier weather likely changed the minds of a few potential last-minute registrations, he noted.

"We probably would have had more if the weather didn't turn in the last week and a bit. It turned ugly on us," he said. "But we're ready to go. We have capacity for everything."

The crown jewel, the 122-kilometre Giro, will be hotly contested this year.

Last year's second-place finisher, Whistler-raised Will Routley, told Pique on Sept. 6 he will not be racing.

However, the men's field will still be strong with Jure Rupnik, Jack Burke, Zach Bell and Garrett McLeod angling for the title.

Canadian team pursuit teammate Georgia Simmerling, Laura Brown and Jasmin Glaesser, who won bronze medals at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio last month, will headline the women's field. Sara Poidevein of Canmore could also make a charge, he noted.

"On the women's side, the field is really stacked this year," McKinnon said. "One thing we've seen is a big growth in women's cycling and certainly on the Giro side of things, we should see a really exciting race."

For the shorter Medio ride, clocking in at about 55 km, the route is reverting back to its pre-2015 offering.

"Typically, it would start at Squamish and end at Whistler. Last year, we wanted to experiment with it and see what the uptake would be, so we started it at Stanley Park and ended in Squamish. What people told us was they wanted to finish in Whistler and be part of the big celebration because really, the story is about the achievement of getting to Whistler and then celebrating with all your 4,000 or 4,500 new best friends," he said.

As for traffic impacts in town, Highway 99 from Function Junction to Village Gate Boulevard will have flashing lights and intermittent stoppages and Alta Lake Road will be available as an alternative route. Blackcomb Way West and Village Gate Boulevard will be closed, though Lorimer Road and Whistler Way will both be open as alternatives. Traffic control people will be controlling traffic at the Village Gate and Northlands Boulevard intersection from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Major delays are expected for those travelling from Vancouver to Whistler. A full list of traffic impacts is available at


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