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Amgen Tour To Return To Santa Clarita

amgen09lanceinlineAfter a year off the route, Santa Clarita is once again part of the annual Amgen Tour of California, as a host city for the final start May 22, 2011. Considered cycling’s most important and successful road race held in the United States, the sixth annual event will cover more than 800 miles over eight days.

 

The 2011 Amgen Tour of California will travel to and through 15 host cities throughout the state over the course of eight days beginning May 15.  Last year’s date change from February to May allowed the Tour de France-style road race to visit locations that would not have been possible previously, including a visit to Big Bear Lake.  The race will remain in May to provide fans with the most action-packed, exciting race possible.


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“We’re very excited to be back in the sixth year of the tour." said Rick Gould, Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services for Santa Clarita. "When you look at the list of cities that have hosted the race, we’re right up there at the top. It's kind of exciting to be the final start of the race.”

A myriad of factors play into Amgen's attraction to the City.

“There are a couple of things that are factors,” Gould said. “Our location geographically is ideal, we are in the LA area, but we’re not, so our roads don’t require the same level or closures and intensity to get the roads closed that you might find in a more metropolitan area.

“If you really look at the route they chose, a lot of the start cities and a lot of the finish cities go by major metropolitan areas, but don’t always go into the middle of them. I went to the LA stage last year and closing down downtown LA on a Saturday was monumental.”

“Talking with the organizers, Santa Clarita has always been a great host for the Tour, just the Town Center, the way the roads work and the proximity of the hotels really fits.”

Gould said that the number of outdoor and fitness enthusiasts also played into the city’s selection process.

“We do have a strong bicycling community, both as community riders and also in the manufacturing area,” he explained. “Also the lifestyle of the city, Healthy Santa Clarita, the bike trails that we have all fit into what the tour is about.”

Previous years’ Amgen visits have spurred a flurry of activity around the cyclists and this Tour promises to be just as inviting.

“We’ve really only been in discussion for a couple of weeks,” he said. “We knew we had a good shot at it, but until the announcement comes out, you’re really not officially a city yet, so today is the day we begin in earnest figuring out what we’re going to do.

“We’re going to look at some old events that we did, and perhaps some new opportunities,” he continued. “I’m sure we’ll definitely take a look at the event that we still continue to do whether the Tour was here or not, which is ‘Hit the Trail.’ We may add some stuff, who knows, the door’s wide open and we’re looking forward to hearing from the community too if there’s stuff they think we ought to do.”

The race will wind through miles of beautiful California terrain, beginning with the first-ever visit to Lake Tahoe, a well-known cycling destination and home of “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.”  The eight-day race will travel through some of the state’s most scenic landmarks, with the overall finish taking place in title-sponsor Amgen’s hometown community of Thousand Oaks.

The 15 official stage start and finish communities that have been selected for the 2011 race include: South Lake Tahoe (new for 2011), North Lake Tahoe-Northstar at Tahoe Resort (new for 2011), North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley USA (new for 2011), Sacramento, Auburn (new for 2011), Modesto, Livermore (new for 2011), San Jose, Seaside, Paso Robles, Solvang, Claremont (new for 2011), Mt. Baldy (new for 2011), Santa Clarita and Thousand Oaks.

“Last year we witnessed the benefits of moving the Amgen Tour of California to May – better weather, a new, challenging route and more intense competition,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports.  “In 2011 we plan to continue to showcase the beautiful features the state of California has to offer, while also continuing to raise the bar for what it means to be the largest, most important cycling race in America.”

Highlights of the 2011 route include the race’s first visit to Lake Tahoe, with the first day of racing featuring a more than a lap and a half around the lake.  The riders also will summit famous Donner Pass on the way to Sacramento.  On the way to San Jose, America’s largest cycling event will venture into the Diablo Mountains for the first of two challenging mountain stages for the world-class cyclists. The riders will once again take the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway down the coast through Big Sur.  Another exciting addition to the 2011 race is the final climb up to the Mt. Baldy ski area, whose steepness and switchbacks are legendary in the Southern California cycling community.

Beginning with the inaugural year in 2006, the Amgen Tour of California quickly became the most successful race in the United States with regards to economic benefits to the state, global recognition and the level of competition.  The race also continues to set records in attendance for a single sporting event in the state of California, as well as any cycling event ever held on U.S. soil, with more than 2 million spectators in previous years.

“From the world-class riders and challenging competition, to the tremendous amount of support from the fans and host cities, the Amgen Tour of California has grown to become one of the most anticipated events within the international cycling community,” continued Messick.  “Making the final selection of host cities for the race becomes an increasingly challenging task each year.”

With the 2011 Amgen Tour of California once again taking place in May, the cyclists will have more time to train, and the competition promises to be even tougher.  In previous years, the race has drawn some of the world's most renowned and respected riders, such as top Tour de France competitors, World Champions and Olympic medalists that include Lance Armstrong, Tom Boonen, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Fabian Cancellara, Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish and Andy Schleck.

“I was in as good of shape the past three years [when I won the Amgen Tour of California] as I am now,” said Levi Leipheimer, race winner from 2007-2009, after the 2010 race.  “The difference this year is that you see a couple of riders on the same level.  The competition has definitely risen.”

“For our team, there’s only one race more important to us than the Amgen Tour of California, and that’s the Tour de France.  This is a huge result for us.  We can really walk away from the 2010 Amgen Tour of California with big smiles on our faces,” said Australian Michael Rogers of Team HTC-Columbia after winning the 2010 race.

Returning as the title sponsor for the sixth consecutive year, Amgen will continue to leverage the race to raise awareness and support for people affected by cancer through its Breakaway from Cancer® initiative.  A leading global biotechnology company with headquarters in Thousand Oaks, Calif., one of the 2011 race Host Cities, Amgen's invaluable support has helped to ensure the continued success of the race and impact beyond the sporting arena.

“The 2011 Amgen Tour of California route will deliver new challenges for the professional cyclists and also give Amgen an opportunity to introduce our company and our Breakaway from Cancer initiative to California communities that are getting involved in the race for the first time,” said Stuart Arbuckle, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology.  “We look forward to collaborating with all of this year’s host cities to spread awareness about Amgen, our mission to serve patients through using biotechnology to create medicines for people with grievous illness, and the incredible support services that are available free of charge to people affected by cancer through Amgen’s non-profit Breakaway from Cancer partner organizations.”

The only American race listed on the international professional cycling calendar with a 2. HC ranking, the Amgen Tour of California has drawn the attention of both cycling enthusiasts and first-time spectators, solidifying its position as one of the most anticipated cycling events of the year.

The 2011 Amgen Tour of California will visit 15 host cities for official stage starts and finishes, while other cities along the route also will have the opportunity to witness the excitement of elite professional cycling.  Stages for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California include:

Stage 1: Sunday, May 15 – South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe-Northstar at Tahoe Resort

Stage 2: Monday, May 16 – North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley USA  to Sacramento

Stage 3: Tuesday, May 17 – Auburn to Modesto

Stage 4: Wednesday, May 18 – Livermore to San Jose

Stage 5: Thursday, May 19 – Seaside to Paso Robles

Stage 6: Friday, May 20 – Solvang Individual Time Trial

Stage 7: Saturday, May 21 – Claremont to Mt. Baldy

Stage 8: Sunday, May 22 – Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks

For further information on the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.