On The Road Again
Touchstone bike fans are getting pumped up to watch the return of the Amgen Tour of California from Feb. 18 through 25, 2007. Professional teams will compete over a 700-mile route that includes the redwoods, the wine country and the Pacific Coast. The first three teams to be announced were The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, Team CSC and Predictor-Lotto. A total of 16 teams are expected.
A new element that was missing from last year’s inaugural race is a loop through the Central Valley. Individual time trials start in San Francisco Feb. 18. The tour itself begins the next day with a stage from Sausalito to Santa Rosa, and the following day to Sacramento. Then riders will skip south to Stockton for the Feb. 21 stage to San Jose. From there the race shifts down the coast with a leg from Seaside to San Luis Obispo. Subsequent stages go to Solvang, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita and Long Beach.
The sponsor, Amgen, a pharmaceuticals developer based in Thousand Oaks, is hoping the California tour will someday eclipse the Tour de France. While it has a long way to go, the California tour got off to a good start. The first one drew 1.3 million spectators.
“I was out watching the first three days of the race last year and it was definitely worth the hype,” says Jessica de Jesus, who helped start the Mission Cliffs Bike Club. “It's pretty special seeing all these guys riding the roads we ride all the time at the blistering pace they set. One of the most impressive things was seeing the amount of spectators out on the road, even mid-week! I was just in France this past summer watching the Tour de France and it was very similar in many aspects, which is a very stunning comparison to be able to make.”
The Sacramento Pipeworks Bike Club will definitely make plans to attend the tour as a group, says Pipeworks manager Vaughn Medford. “The Amgen tour is certainly everything they say it is. Still too young to be considered on par with world class rides like The Tour De France or Paris-Roubaix, it is already equal to something like The Tour of Georgia.”
Mission Cliffs will be out in full force as well.
“In addition, we will probably organize the last club ride in February to be a portion of Stage 1 of the race,” says de Jesus.
Aside from being an exciting sports event, the tour also raises funds for cancer care and treatment. Last year, Amgen raised more than $1 million for The Wellness Community. This year the tour also will support the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.
Labels: cycling, event, Touchstone Bike Club