The Gastown Grand Prix (sponsored by Global Relay) is the richest criterium in North America. This year the winning woman and the winning man each took away $12,000. It’s also the only criterium in Canada with official international UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) status. The annual Gastown Grand Prix is held on the cobbled streets of downtown Vancouver, with a short course and tight curves making for a very challenging race. I will of course never be able to compete in it, but it’s a spectacular race to watch. If you add in dinner and a bottle of wine, it’s a perfect Vancouver evening experience!
This year’s Gastown Grand Prix was especially exciting for many because the women’s race was won by Tina Pic (USA) – at 50 years old, the oldest cyclist in the entire race. It was great to know that 50-year-old legs conquered the cobbles! I was so inspired that I have started planning some extra midweek rides.
Tina Pic hails from Utah. She has had a 20 year professional cycling career (so far), during which she has won six US National Criterium titles. She is a Happy Tooth Pro Cycling rider. Tina said after the race: “A race like this just makes it all worth it, it’s just so fun to come out here and have such big crowds, it’s great!”
See if you can spot Tina in this short but fun video:
The Gastown Grand Prix has three segments: youth, women, and men. Global Relay has just renewed its sponsorship, so we will be able to watch the race for another five years, at least.
Because it’s set in historic Gastown, the Gastown Grand Prix is a great place to find a restaurant for dinner, while watching the race from a patio or on the big screen. The Water Street Café has a patio right at the start line.
From the Water Street Cafe patio, you can observe cyclists getting ready for their event, and see a big screen TV showing the race.
The 2016 Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix took place on Wednesday, July 13th. It was the 33rd year of the event. What helps to make it spectacular is the backdrop of Vancouver – always awesome in summer. To make it even better the race runs over the cobblestoned Gastown streets.
The men’s race was delayed this year by a fire alarm in an adjacent building in Water Street.
The crowds waited patiently for almost 30 minutes as the fire fighters did their due diligence, but the men’s event had to be shortened from 50 laps to 40 laps (so as to end before dark). That must have played havoc with many people’s strategic planning. In the end, it was won by Rally Pro Cycling’s Eric Young.
In this race, the venue is as interesting as the race. Gastown is famous for being the Vancouver epicenter of shopping, patios and restaurants, design, culture, and fashion.While you’re at the race, try walking the entire circuit – you will see a lot of interesting things.
The first bike race ever held in Gastown was back in 1898, when two men raced each other penny-farthing bikes. The races are now a whole lot more exciting! If you’re planning on a Vancouver vacation in 2017, the week of the Gastown Grand Prix would be a great time to do it.
So check out the 2017 BC Superweek Calendar to find out when the next Gastown Grand Prix will take place, and put it in your calendar. I just did!
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