[Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information.]
The Amgen Tour of California will return to Santa Barbara and visit Avila Beach for the first time ever when the Tri-Counties hosts the end of Stage 4 and all of Stage 5 for the eight-year-old road cycle racing event next year.
AEG, presenter of the race, has set up a south to north course for the first time. The Amgen Tour of California is considered America’s largest and most prestigious professional cycling stage race. It has sparked controversy because erythropoietin, a blood-boosting drug that is the prime suspect in several doping scandals that have rocked cycling, is a drug that Amgen brought to prominence in the late 1980s. The race will cover approximately 750 miles from May 12-19, 2013.
Twelve cities have been designated as hosts, based on competitive bids that include availability of hotel rooms and other amenities for racing teams and spectators.
According to a release, the cyclists will land in Santa Barbara midway through the race on Wednesday, May 15th. The cyclists will ride north from Santa Clarita toward the Pacific Coast and Santa Barbara, which last hosted the race in 2008, for the Stage 4 finish. The race will remain in Santa Barbara for the start of Stage 5, which heads north to Avila Beach for the Stage 5 finish.
“I am thrilled that the Amgen Tour of California is returning to the City of Santa Barbara. Welcome Back!” said Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider in a statement from Santa Barbara’s Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission. The race will begin in San Diego County and end in Santa Rosa, which was the start for last year’s race.
Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, is returning as the race’s title sponsor for the eighth consecutive year, continuing to leverage the event to advertise important resources available to people affected by cancer through its “Breakaway from Cancer” initiative.
San Jose is the only city to host the race for all eight years. Solvang, the Santa Ynez Valley city that has hosted the event in the past, submitted a bid this year but was not selected.