THE AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA IS the largest cycling event in America. From May 15-22, the more than 800-mile race winds through some of California’s most scenic landmarks, including Lake Tahoe and historic gold-rush towns.
The peloton, which includes 19 elite cycling teams, begins at its highest start elevation in six years—6,300 feet above sea level at South Lake Tahoe. After a lap and a half around the lake, Stage 1 finishes at the Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort.
Stage 2 starts at Squaw Valley USA on Monday, May 16, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The riders head north to Truckee, then west over Donner Pass at 7,100 feet. From here, the scenic route will pass through Nevada City (last year’s start) and Grass Valley, Beale Air Force Base and on into Sacramento.
Auburn is called the “Endurance Capital of the World,” so it’s fitting that one of the fastest stages begins there on May 17. The riders will make three laps through town, including a neutral start in Old Town, before heading south through Folsom. The Stage 3 race continues through the Gold Country on its way to Modesto, ending a 122-mile journey. The Tour of California finishes in Southern California, including a trip up to Mt. Baldy.
“The entire community is excited to welcome the Amgen Tour of California to Auburn,” says Mayor Bill Kirby. Bike Auburn, the race’s local organizing group, has joined with city and civic leaders to stage events before the race.
On Saturday, May 14, a Stage 3 ride and family festival are planned, allowing locals to follow the pro course. A family fun ride, barbeque and live music is planned too.
A food and wine event is Sunday, May 15, at Winchester Country Club. The Vino Velo Gala will feature local wineries—such as Lone Buffalo and Viña Castellano —as well as restaurants, including Monkey Cat and Carpe Vino. (Go to BikeAuburn.com for tickets and more information).
On race day, a lifestyle festival will be held in Auburn, featuring food, entertainment and family activities. Sierra FoodWineArt is a sponsor of the race.
The Tour de France-style cycling race is expected to boost the region’s economy. Mayor Kirby, for his part, purchased a new bike for the race at Victory Velo in Auburn.
(photo credit: Barry Walton)