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Sports Briefs: GranFondo drops sanctioned race

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Rather than have a separate category the organizers of the RBC GranFondo Whistler will reconfigure the start area to accommodate the licensed riders.

"Our team at GranFondo Canada is committed to delivering a unique cycling experience," said event co-founder Kevin Thomson in a statement. "Racers have told us they want to ride together and that they appreciate having a timed course. With some slight changes to the GranFondo start, we will be able to provide what they are looking for by including them in the full GrandFondo event."

There are a few advantages of the change. Starting the elite riders with the mass start gives up and coming riders a chance to test themselves against some of the fastest riders in Canada. It's also a benefit for mixed teams, where a few athletes would compete in elite and the rest in the age categories — now they can race the course as a team.

It could also shorten road closures slightly, with one start time for all riders and the potential for keeping the field a little closer together for the first part of the event.

Early bird registration for the 2012 GranFondo Whistler ends on Jan. 6, going up in price by $25 after that.

The RBC GranFondo Whistler starts in downtown Vancouver and finishes in Whistler, following a 122-kilometre route up the Sea to Sky Highway.

For more on the race/ride visit www.rbcgranfondo.com.

Test of Metal registration Jan. 1

Getting into the annual North Shore Credit Union Test of Metal is almost as hard as the race itself, selling out for the last 10 years running. The speed at which the race sells out also gets faster every year, as fast as the technology will allow anyway, and last year the race sold 800 general registrations in just over 22 minutes.

If you're planning to race this year and missed the local registration, you're going to want to be online at least five minutes before registration opens at 6 p.m. on Jan. 1, and have your information handy including credit card numbers. Fast typing is also an asset. You can register up to four people so it makes sense to get together with friends somewhere with a fast Internet connection to increase your chances of getting into the event.

Registration is accessible through www.testofmetal.com.

The NSCU Test of Metal is a 67-kilometre point-to-point mountain bike race in Squamish, with over 35km of single-track.

Half Marathon registration Jan. 1

The inaugural running of The North Face Whistler Half Marathon was a huge success, with all 750 spots selling out just hours before the end of the early bird rates. Organizers added another 50 spots, which sold out almost instantly.

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