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Tour de L’Île a soggy but joyous affair

Click to play video: 'Tour de L’Île 2016' Tour de L’Île 2016
WATCH ABOVE: Sunday's downpour didn't put a damper on the Tour de L'Île. An estimated 25,000 cyclists took part in the annual two-wheeled tour of the city – Jun 5, 2016

MONTREAL – It was under threatening grey clouds that thousands of cyclists readied themselves for the start of the Tour de L’Île in front of Jeanne-Mance Park Sunday morning.

An estimated 25,000 cyclists were expected to take part in the cycling extravaganza.

The clouds eventually did burst open but cyclists took it all in stride, some even taking the time to tweet.

Some participants dressed up as ducks.

While others just ducked for cover.

As for the brave, they just kept pushing on.

The  Tour de L’Île  is an annual event that takes cyclists on a leisurely and scenic ride across the city with different routes varying in length from 25 km to 100 km.

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“It’s a nice way to discover the city,” said Michelle Gardiner a first-time participant in the ride. “It’s cool because the streets are yours.”

Carlo Deluca, a fellow cyclist, agreed.

“It was very nice,” he said. “The experience was great. You get to see the city in a different way, there’s no traffic.”

The tour got its start in 1985 when 3,500 cyclists took part in the event. It was organized to show officials just how popular an activity cycling was and to encourage the government to reorganize urban spaces and roads to accommodate cyclists.

READ MORE: City of Montreal to invest $15M in bike paths for the 2016-2017 season

This year’s car-free route took participants from Jeanne-Mance Park across the Jacques Cartier Bridge and into Longueuil for the first time ever.

Cyclists  then rode along the St. Lawrence River before making their way back across the bridge into Hochelaga-Maisonneauve and the Olympic Park. From the Big O, it was back to the starting line via Rosemont-La- Petite-Patrie.

READ MORE: Cyclists take over city streets

But not everyone was happy. Some disgruntled motorists suggested taking over the Train du Nord bike path as a retaliatory move.

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And while road and bridge closures may have caused some traffic headaches and left some  Montrealers grumbling, the economic impacts of the event can’t be denied.

Organizers point to a 2013 CROP survey, where 22 per cent of participants in the Go Bike Montreal Festival — a week of cycling activities leading up to and including the Tour de L’Île — were tourists or travelers. Of those, 80 per cent said they specifically came to Montreal to participate in the event.

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