Quito, Jul 30 (EFE).- Ecuadorian tourism officials expect some 50,000 people to turn out for this weekend’s Giro d’Italia Ride Like a Pro amateur cycling race in this capital, featuring retired Spanish great Alberto Contador.
The July 29-July 31 event will give riders of all ages the chance to sample something akin to the experience of Contador, winner of seven grand tours, and of Ecuador’s own Richard Carapaz, who won the 2019 Giro d’Italia and took gold last year in the Tokyo Olympics.
Quito’s Parque Bicentenario is serving as the hub for three days of racing.
The routes of Saturday’s 5km races for youngsters ages 2-5 and 6-14 lie entirely within the park, while the longer adult circuits – 40km, 90km and 150km – range across the Quito metropolitan area.
The finish line has a pink carpet and triumphal arch like those that greeted Carapaz when he won the Giro.
Festivities got under way Friday with the inauguration of Expo Village, a food and fashion fair modeled on the post-Giro party in Verona.
The fair also includes nightly concerts.
More than four months of preparation went into making the event possible, the head of Quito Turismo, Maria Cristina Rivadeneira, said during the inauguration.
Contador, whose laurels include two Tour de France titles, three triumphs in the Vuelta de España and a pair of Giro d’Italia trophies, said that “everything that gets young people into sports is good.”
He hailed the “spectacular” efforts of the organizers and the large crowds of spectators lining the routes.
“Without a doubt, this is a tremendous stimulus for sport, for all of society and for cycling in Ecuador,” the Spaniard said. “Sport, in the end, is quality of life, a healthy lifestyle.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race in the maximum category, he said that riders unaccustomed to the altitude in Quito (2,850m/9,344ft) will struggle with fatigue.
As far as his own prospects, Contador said that he hadn’t been able to train very much because he was covering the just-concluded Tour de France for Spanish television. EFE fgg-sm/dr