Thousands take part in annual Montreal Tour de l’Ile

Over 25,000 cylicsts took to the open road on two wheels Sunday morning for the annual Montreal Tour de l’Ile cycling festival. 

This year’s routes took cyclists on 25, 50 and 100km rides from downtown through the city’s northern and eastern boroughs, by prominent landmarks such as the Olympic Stadium. 

Those on the 100km ride even made it off the island, riding through Repentigny and l’Assomption.

Roads being used as part of the cyclists’ route were closed for much of the day to vehicular traffic, but unlike last year, traffic circulation remained relatively fluid through major north-south and east-west thoroughfares in the city’s inner core.

This year’s edition of the Tour de l’Ile took place in the shadow of Mount Royal, where the controversial pilot project banning private vehicles on the mountain’s access roads took effect Saturday. 

When asked about the timing, Tour de l’Ile’s Director-General Joelle Sévigny said that the event has always been at least a little bit political. 

She cited the event’s first edition in the 1980’s, when the then-provincial government wanted an event to highlight a number of newly-installed bike paths in the city. 

That year, a remarkable 10,000 cyclists took part, a number that has grown to nearly three times that over the years.

"It's the power of the numbers,” Sévigny said, in reference to the annual turnout for Tour de l’Ile. 

She called the bicycle the "means of transportation of tomorrow, [and] it is today also.”

Frank Merhar took part in the 50km "classic" edition of the race. 

He remarked that the weather conditions for his ride were "perfect" adding, "it’s a good day to be a Montrealer."