Hundreds of Davis residents turned out last February to see cyclists racing in the Amgen Tour of California whiz through town. Next year they’ll get to see more.
Race presenters AEG announced last week that Davis will host the beginning of the second stage of the tour, a nine-day professional bicycle race.
“We’re very excited to be the starting point of the Amgen Tour of California,” said Davis Mayor Ruth Asmundson at a press conference announcing the changes. “We’ve been involved with [the race] for the past two years, but this will be our first time hosting the tour, and we are ready.“
The first stage will take place in Sacramento on Feb. 14. The second stage will start in Davis on Feb. 15 and end in Santa Rosa. The 2009 course has been expanded from eight stages to nine with the addition of a finishing stage in San Diego.
The Amgen Tour of California drew 1.6 million spectators in 2008, a record for any single sporting event in California, according to a press release. This also set the record for any cycling event ever held in the United States.
Half of the host cities in the 2009 race are new, said Davis public relations manager Bob Bowen.
“[The Amgen tour] is very committed to reaching new audiences and new parts of California,“ Bowen said. “There are places they haven’t gone to yet, like San Diego. They try to change it up and bring more cities to expose them to the excitement of the tour.“
Last year, cyclists entered the city on Russell Boulevard in West Davis. The course took them by the north side of the UC Davis campus, through downtown and out of the city via Pole Line Road toward Woodland. The route for the 2009 course has not yet been mapped.
“We expect to start the loop through Downtown Davis to get more people involved in it,” Bowen said.
It will most likely start around Central Park with the cyclists doing a neutral lap, he said.
“The idea is that [the competitors] will do a neutral lap, so they won’t be racing, but bicycling easily, so people can cheer them on,” he said.
Hosting the race won’t come free, however.
Asmundson said the city has committed to contributing $15,000 to help cover the costs of hosting the start of the second stage. This money will have to be raised through fundraisers and contributions from the community.
“We hope to bring in some sponsors who will be big businesses,” Bowen said. “UC Davis was a sponsor last year, so maybe they’ll do it again.“
Other events and activities, such as health and fitness fairs and activity booths, will be organized in addition to fundraising rides and races prior to the event.
Many community members expect this event to contribute to the city’s name recognition as an outstanding place for cyclists. Davis City Councilmember Don Saylor said he is excited for this new chapter in the history of biking, which will help identify Davis as a cycling community.
JANET HUNG can be reached at email@example.com.