17 FEB 2017: Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie is a cycling event that launched in 2015 in Saulnierville Nova Scotia. Yet since then, it has become the largest cycling event in Atlantic Canada, and the Municipality of Clare, where the event is hosted is now a finalist for an award from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.

Grand Fondo is a type of long distance cycling event that originated in Italy but has become popular in other countries.

It was only three years ago that the Municipality of Clare was considering ideas for tourism, when they decided on a Grand Fondo idea.  A cycling event checked off all of the boxes, in that it was a recreational event that represented a healthy lifestyle, and would showcase the region’s natural beauty.  

Louanne Doucet is a co-owner of bike store Velo Baie Sainte-Marie and one of the organizers of the cycling event. She said it has "snowballed into something bigger than we could have ever imagined.”

She suggested that the success was because of the hundreds of volunteers that show up “and give 100 percent. It’s a community effort.”

Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie is offering four rides in 2017, from 35 kilometres to the new Super Gran Loop for “hard-core cyclists” at 161 kilometres.

Registration is now open for the event to be held on September 24.

Next month the Municipality of Clare hopes to be the Sport Tourism Organization of the Year at the 2017 at the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance PRESTIGE Awards.

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