World class cyclist heading to Alberta

Any Central Albertans who have ever wanted the chance to ride along side Lance Armstrong will get the opportunity in September in Calgary.

The seven time Tour De France champion will be in Alberta Sept. 8 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s ‘Link Pink’ event.

“It’s an exciting opportunity. We are happy to welcome seven time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong to Calgary to fund raise for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation,” said Tracy Sopkow, marketing and communications director for the Foundations Prairie region.

“It’s going to be a great event. There’s an opportunity for cycling enthusiasts to come out and take part in a 60 kilometre ride with Lance and then later that evening, he’s going to be giving a keynote address at the Telus Convention Centre for anyone that wants to come out and listen.”

The CBCF held a similar event in Jasper last year, and Sopkow says that event was a huge success.

“We did this last year with Lance, where we took a group of cyclists out to Jasper to ride with him and they did a fairly challenging 100 kilometre ride last August,” said Sopkow.

“We’re going to be doing it again this year in Calgary. Should be an easier ride, a little shorter, and a little more open to cycling enthusiasts, cancer survivors and anyone who wants to come out and support the cause. Last year, we had 43 cyclists taking part and about 1,100 people who came out to see Lance speak at a luncheon that same day and we raised about $1.5 million so we’re hoping to do that again in Calgary.”

The event in Jasper was geared more towards advanced cyclists, while this year’s event in Calgary is less challenging, opening the door for novice cyclists to get involved.

“This year’s ride is going to be set up as two 30 kilometre loops, so people have the opportunity to either ride all 60 kilometres or, if they just want to join in for a 30 kilometre lap, they’re able to do that as well,” said Sopkow, who noted that last year’s ride was tougher because it was in the mountains.

“You definitely don’t need to be a hard core cyclist, who can keep up and climb the hills, because we’re doing something fairly flat and rolling just to the west of Calgary, so it’ll be much more open to the everyday cyclist.”

Sopkow says bringing in someone of Armstrong’s calibre will not only raise awareness of the devastating effects of cancer, but it will also give those with the disease hope that it can be beaten.

“I think Lance, outside of his sporting accomplishments, with his commitment to the cancer cause and what he’s been able to do internationally, in terms of raising money to eradicate cancer and bring some attention to a disease, has been phenomenal,” she said.

“His celebrity and his sporting achievements are a draw but his message is really about cancer and that’s what he focuses on when he gives his keynotes, is his ability to overcome it and how now he doesn’t survive cancer, he’s a thriver and I think that’s a very powerful message that he passes on to a lot of people. There is a wonderful life out there after a cancer diagnosis.”

Anyone who is interested in taking part in the event is encouraged to check out the link on the foundations web site at www.cbcf.org.

“There’s two ways people can get involved in riding. Riders can either sign up to either ride as an individual or they can sign up as a team,” she said.

“Teams are five members strong and there is a minimum fund-raising commitment obviously, because we want people to raise money so that we, at the foundation, can grant it out to support research and community education projects in the field of breast cancer. Or, people can join us that evening at the dinner at the convention centre and purchase a ticket.”

sports@reddeerexpress.com

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