On July 13, British Columbia’s South Okanagan will see 2,600 cyclists take to the roads for the start of the fourth annual Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan (PGAMO).
This year’s cycling event attracts riders from as far away as Norway, Japan, Australia and Bahrain. Riders range in age from teenagers to 84-years-old, with more than half of the registrants riding the full 160-kilometre Granfondo distance, approximately 35 per cent riding the 92-km Mediofondo, and 15 per cent tackling the 55-km Cortofondo.
Cyclists will depart at 7 a.m. at Penticton’s Gyro Park before travelling to the District of Summerland and the towns of Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Kaleden. Along for the ride will be event namesake, and former Belgian national cycling champion, Axel Merckx. The former professional cyclist, now living in the Okanagan, will be joined by Canadian Olympic legend Clara Hughes;former mountain bike Olympic medalist, Alison Sydor (who returns for a fourth year); Challenge Penticton winner Jeff Symonds, Ryan Eastman and Tanner Putt, members of the Bissell Development professional cycling team as well as Canadian musician, Barney Bentall.
Other notable cyclists participating include Vancouver Canucks president and former NHL All- Star, Trevor Linden, as well as current Edmonton Oilers head coach, Dallas Eakins.
“The PGAMO continues to be one of the highlights of the summer for many cyclists, including myself,” said Axel Merckx in a statement. “The excitement surrounding the event is a testament to the hard work by volunteers, organizers, local communities, and event partners.
“Prospera, our new title sponsor, has been integral to the development of this world class event that attracts visitors from around the world to Penticton and the Okanagan region,” he continued.
The event benefits both the Axel Merckx Youth Development Foundation, as well as Cops for Cancer – an initiative by first responders in support of the Canadian Cancer Society and Camp Goodtimes, a Lower Mainland summer retreat for children with cancer and their families. Our Cops for Cancer riders hope to raise $30,000.
Many ancillary activities will be centered around Penticton’s Gyro Park, including the Kids’ Piccolofondo fun bike race on Saturday, July 12 (1:30 p.m. start). The Penticton Trade and Convention Centre will host the participants’ package pick-up and Granfondo Cycling Expo on Friday, July 11th (1 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and Saturday, July 12th (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). A limited number of ride entries are still available on a first-come, first-served basis on-site at Package Pick-Up.