Ryder Hesjedal laughed.
Zack Bell broke into a wide grin.
Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel had just made clear his loyalties for the Tour of Alberta.
“I hope a Canadian wins,” Mandel said. “I know I shouldn’t say that, but I hope a Canadian wins.”
Whether politically correct, Mandel was echoing the sentiments of hundreds of cycling enthusiasts who packed city hall to watch the opening press conference for the inaugural TOA, which begins with the prologue Tuesday in the Alberta capital.
The 120-rider field will feature around 20 Canadians, none more accomplished than 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Hesjedal, and Bell, the reigning Canadian national road race champ.