Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis and more than 100 of the nation’s best cyclists will cycle through town on Sunday as part of the Amgen Tour of California.
The first stage of the nine-day, 750-mile race will begin in Davis on Sunday, and local organizers say they expect the event to draw crowds of Picnic Day proportions.
“It all depends on the weather, but it will be a minimum of 20,000,“ said Davis public relations manager Bob Bowen. Some estimates of the crowd size on a sunny day suggest more than 30,000 people will be in attendance.
Rain or shine, sponsors and organizers have planned a day full of events and activities that will attract large crowds. The swarm of cyclists (properly referred to as the peloton) will arrive in Downtown Davis by 10:30 a.m. and will begin preparations for the race.
At noon, cancer survivor Deborah Dunham will fire the starting pistol and the cyclists will take off from Third and C Streets for two laps around downtown at neutral speeds.
“They’re warming up so they’ll go by slowly,” Bowen said. “It‘s a good time to take pictures.“
The race route will take the cyclists westbound on Russell Boulevard. The official starting line of the race is at Arthur Street, from which riders will race through Winters, past Lake Berryessa, and through the Napa Valley on the way to Santa Rosa, where the first stage ends.
With much of downtown impacted by road closures, spectators who drive should park at UC Davis, said Davis Police Sergeant Ton Phan.
Unitrans will be operating a free, continuous shuttle from the Mondavi Center parking lot to downtown beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. A second shuttle will loop around Community Park and Davis High School in the central part of town.
TAPS officers will be enforcing a $6 parking fee at campus lots.
Alternatively, spectators can ride their bikes and take advantage of the valet bike parking that will be offered on the north lawn of Davis Community Church at Fifth and C Streets.
Watch parties with live streaming video will be hosted at a number of restaurants in town, including 3rd and U Cafe, Barista Brew, Bistro 33, Cafe Bernardo, Fuzio, Season’s, Steve’s Pizza, The Graduate, Uncle Vito’s and Woodstock’s. The watch parties begin at noon and will last until the end of Stage 1, approximately 5 p.m.
After the Tour of California cyclists leave town, the Davis Bike Club will be hosting the Davis Junior Criterium along the same downtown route. A family festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Central Park.
A Downtown Cyclebration featuring pedicab rides, special displays, “whymcycles“ demonstrations and vendors will be held at the E Street Plaza from noon to 3 p.m. The California Bicycle Museum will be open in the basement of the Teen Center at Third and B Streets beginning at 10 a.m.
Presented by AEG, the Amgen Tour of California is the largest cycling event in America. Seventeen of the world’s top professional teams will compete in the race.
“The level of competition and talent for the fourth-annual Amgen Tour of California rivals the top races in the world and demonstrates the importance of the United States to professional cycling,” said AEG president Andrew Messick in a written statement.
For more information on the schedule, specific events that will be offered, road closures and parking options, visit tourofcalifornia-davis.com.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at email@example.com.