Riders of all ages participated in 2019’s Axel Mercx Granfondo in Penticton, with over 1600 registering for 2020 before COVID-19 forced its cancellation. (Western News File)

Riders of all ages participated in 2019’s Axel Mercx Granfondo in Penticton, with over 1600 registering for 2020 before COVID-19 forced its cancellation. (Western News File)

Granfondo ‘Penticton’s best opportunity for an event in 2021’

The long-distance cycling event was cancelled this year after 1600 riders had already registered

Penticton’s annual long distance cycling event, the Axel Mercx Granfondo, is getting ready for 2021 with a COVID-19 recovery plan.

The Granfondo has brought in an average of 2,600 cyclists each year to Penticton.

Axel Mercx himself and event director Jeff Plant presented a brief outline of the future of the Granfondo to Penticton’s council on Oct. 20, as a COVID-19 safe event next year.

“I believe that we are the best opportunity that Penticton has to host a major event in 2021,” said Plant.

According to their presentation, the Granfondo brings the city an average of $6.2 million a year in economic impact.

READ MORE: Granfondo cycles through the South Okanagan and towards 10th anniversary

Plant also noted that in previous years, the event’s lack of international participants had been seen as a knock on the event. However, Plant now considers this one of the reasons why the Granfondo will be able to recover.

According to their presentation, the Granfondo sees 97 per cent of participants come from Canada, with 86 per cent coming from outside the Okanagan.

That Canadian ridership is seen as a major benefit with the impacts COVID-19 has had on international travel.

Other bright points brought up in the presentation were the increase in bicycle sales, which have grown since February.

“Participation in cycling is through the roof,” said Plant. “We feel the demand for a cycling event will be greater than ever, and we have the benefit of still having access to the vast majority of our market.”

Not being a race, the event also has a larger degree of flexibility to introduce COVID-19 safety measures, such as putting riders in groups of up to 45 and staggering the groups in intervals.

One of the other potential changes would be spreading out the post-event celebrations from a single location to multiple businesses and restaurants across Penticton.

READ MORE: 2,500 cyclists ready to take the South Okanagan roads for Granfondo

The event has drawn consistent numbers of entrants, of all ages and genders, since it began in 2011.

“When I moved here from Europe in 2008, one of my main goals was to introduce myself, but also to share my passion and my heritage,” said Mercx. “I realized quickly that there was a big demand in the community and support for cycling in particular.”

Before the 2020 Granfondo was cancelled, the event had 1655 riders registered, whose registrations were rolled over to the 2021 event.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Oliver Fire Department had to put out a fire on their own training ground, and it wasn’t one they set. (Facebook)
Vehicles torched at Oliver Fire Department training grounds

This suspected arson comes after the cars were vandalized earlier and suspicious fire the night before

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Steven Brown is running for Penticton city council in the June by-election. (Contributed)
Penticton race director throws hat into city council ring

Steven Brown will run with a focus on small business

Penticton Vees celebrate a goal in their second win to start their season on Saturday night at the SOEC. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees head into final weekend tied for first in league

The Vees have two games to take the top spot

Kelsey Johnson, the City of Penticton’s manager for parks and recreation, was recognized by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association as an emerging leader for her work. (Submitted)
National recognition for Penticton’s head of parks & rec

Kelsey Johnson was deemed an emerging leader by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Most Read