In a few months, dozens of elite cyclists from around the world will descend on Edmonton, to begin the inaugural ‘Tour of Alberta’ – and local cycling enthusiasts and leaders are looking forward to it.

“We are bringing the Tour de France to Alberta,” Retired professional cyclist Alex Steida said. “It’s a free event to watch so that is really cool.”

The 850 kilometre stage race will start on Sept. 3 in Edmonton – and finish on Sept. 8 in Calgary.

It’s expected to have 16 elite cycling teams, including eight international teams from 20 countries – made up of 150 cyclists competing.

The cyclists are expected to tour through between 16 and 18 rural communities along the way – 10 to 12 of those will be ‘official hosts’ during the race.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage Albertans no matter where they live,” Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Verlyn Olson said.

While only the start and finish locations were officially announced – the race route will be confirmed in the New Year – the Deputy Mayor of Devon hopes organizers choose his town to host part of the event.

“We’d be pleased as punch to have Tour of Alberta come through our town,” Deputy Mayor Dan Woodcock said.

“We would be more than excited to see them come, we want them to come, this is something our community has taken to heart over the last few years and it’s an outstanding opportunity to show off our community.”

In addition to the official announcement, the Rural Alberta Development Fund (RADF) also approved $3.5 million in funding to the Alberta Peloton Association, to support the event.

The funding will focus on community festivals and assisting local organizers.

With files from Dez Melenka