One of the most prestigious races in US cycling will pedal through a handful of tri-county cities this May.
The 10th anniversary of this year’s 724-mile, Amgen Tour of California features stages that pass through host cities, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach and Santa Barbara — reprising their roles from tours past. The Ventura County portion of the route goes through Ojai and Santa Paula on its way to Santa Clarita.
This year 18 international teams are expected to take part in the race, with tri-county host cities offering up some of the more interesting competitive landscapes on the tour.
The race is on the Union Cycliste Internationale Americas Tour and the USA Cycling Professional Tour, making it one of the major competitions leading up to the Tour de France in June. The competition is a big draw with cycling enthusiasts and tens of thousands of people are expected to roll in to the event’s host cities, filling up hotels, cramming restaurants and pumping cash into the tourism economy. Balcom Canyon, just outside of Santa Paula, is one of the major climbs on the tour and as many as 5,000 spectators are predicted to line that section of the course.
The race is economic windfall, but does have it drawbacks, including congestion and major clean up efforts. Still, host cities typically bend over backwards to accommodate the cyclists and the fans, and many are already enlisting thousands of volunteers.
The tour starts in Sacramento and will finish in Pasadena, with 43,000 feet of total elevation in between. Other host cities on the tour include Nevada City, Lodi, San Jose, Santa Clarita, Big Bear Lake, Ontario, Mt. Baldy, and Los Angeles.
In the region, Stage 4 on May 13 covers 107 miles from Pismo to Avila Beach. Stage 5 on May 14 will traverse 98 miles from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita.