Curious sights in Valley Springs, photo courtesy the Barbozas
SACRAMENTO - Modesto and Sacramento cycling enthusiasts expecting to catch the annual Amgen Tour of California will either have to travel or wait another year.
Sacramento and the surrounding areas, through which the tour usually passes, were surprisingly omitted, according to an Amgen press release.
"Sacramento didn't do anything wrong," Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau Mike Testa said. "The Sports Commission has produced a great event over the years and I think it's just really a product of the Tour of California needing to tour all of California. At some point, we knew Sacramento would not play host to this event."
When Sacramento hosted an opening stage in previous years it brought in about $8 million said Testa, who is confident Sacramento will be included in the 2013 race.
"We've got a great track record of fan support and I know that's really important to the racing officials," Testa said.
In Nevada City, fans also will have to wait to cheer cyclists along the streets.
"You really have to sell yourselves to them and you have to make yourselves demographically viable. That's really what it comes down to," Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop owner Duane Strawser said. "Any city that gets excluded it has nothing to do with them or something they've done wrong. It really comes down to the mileage of any given stage and you just have to fit in like a piece of a puzzle."
Nevada City became a Stage 2 start in the 2011 Tour of California after snow and ice conditions in Lake Tahoe made it difficult for cyclists to compete. The race provided free marketing for Nevada City and was an economic boost for businesses.
"It was wonderful. It brought a lot of people here for the businesses and it was just real exciting to watch them," Nevada City Chocolate Shoppe Juanita Scott said.
Strawser said he was surprised to learn that Sacramento was not included in the 2012 Tour of California.
"On one hand, it makes sense to maybe to go away for a year, but to me that's still one of the central core locations in California, being our capital and being a hot cycling community, that it just made sense to use Sacramento as a hub one way or the other for Amgen just like Paris is always the finish on the Tour de France," Strawser said.
Strawser plans to work on a 2013 proposal with officials from Lake Tahoe and Sacramento to make a viable route throughout the region.
The 2012 race begins in Santa Rosa on May 13 and concludes 750 miles and seven days later in Los Angeles.
The eight-stage tour will travel through 13 host cities, including first-time venues Sonora and Ontario.
The stages are as follows:
Stage 1: Santa Rosa
Stage 2: San Francisco to Santa Cruz
Stage 3: San Jose to Livermore
Stage 4: Sonora to Clovis
Stage 5: Bakersfield
Stage 6: Palmdale to Big Bear Lake
Stage 7: Ontario to Mount Baldy
Stage 8: Los Angeles
Complete Tour of California map with stops
Teams and riders have yet to be announced, but approximately 140 professional cyclists are expected to compete.