On Sunday July 8, the South Okanagan will see more than 2,200 cyclists take to the roads for the start of the 8th edition of the Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan (PGAMO).
While more than three-quarters of the participants live in British Columbia, this year’s cycling event attracts riders from eight different countries, as far away as Australia, Denmark, Italy, the Cayman Islands, and Japan. Thirty-three percent of registrants are women, and riders range in age from 13 to 90-years-old.
Cyclists will depart at 7 a.m. on Sunday, July 8th on Penticton’s Lakeshore Drive, adjacent to Okanagan Lake Park, before travelling through 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 – who now resides in the Okanagan. Merckx will be joined by four of his Hagens Berman Axeon under-23 pro riders – Sean Bennett, Ian Garrison, Michael Rice, and Jonny Brown. Brown returns for a second consecutive year, but this time as the youngest ever U.S. road race champion – a title he captured less than two weeks ago in Knoxville, Tennessee. Former NHL All-Star and Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations, Trevor Linden; current World Tour pro and EF Education First-Drapac rider, Nate Brown (Jonny’s brother); and, 2012 Giro D’Italia champion, Ryder Hesjedal, feature among the list of notable names riding in Sunday’s big ride.
“We’re excited to deliver one of North America’s best cycling events to Penticton and the South Okanagan for an eighth straight year,” says Merckx. “We are also extremely grateful for amazing volunteers, the City of Penticton and its residents, and our title sponsor, Prospera Credit Union, for their amazing support.”
Once again, the event benefits both the Axel Merckx Youth Development Foundation and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice – B.C.’s recognized pediatric palliative care provider, delivering care to over 600 newborns, children and youth and the families who love them.
Several activities will be centred around Penticton’s downtown core, including the Kids’ Piccolofondo fun bike race on Saturday, July 7 (2 p.m. start). Also on Saturday, the Passo Apex Hill Climb Race returns to Apex Mountain, starting at 9 a.m. The Penticton Trade and Convention Centre will host the participants’ Package Pick-Up and Granfondo Cycling Expo on Friday, July 6 (1 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and Saturday, July 7 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). A limited number of ride entries are still available on a first-come, first-served basis at Package Pick-Up.