Cambria, Pismo Beach gear up for Amgen cycling race

nwilson@thetribunenews.comFebruary 20, 2014 

Amgen Tour of California announced the route for its ninth annual professional cycling race Thursday, noting that Cambria and Pismo Beach — two of the three new host cities — will showcase California’s iconic coastal route during the May 11-18 competition.

But their sweeping ocean vistas could be deceiving.

“These stages will be anything but relaxing with head winds, tons of climbing and relentless effort to stay in contention,” organizers noted in a news release.

The eight-stage race will start at the state capitol in Sacramento and finish in Thousand Oaks, cover 740 miles, include 12 host cities and feature 16 world-class teams.

On May 14, Cambria will mark the finishing location of the 105-mile Stage 4, which begins at 11:50 a.m. from Monterey. This stage — which tour organizers have dubbed “the most beautiful” stretch — ends at West Main Street and Cambria Road at the Veterans Memorial Building.

Local organizer Guy Savage said that Amgen has said to expect about 2,000 spectators. The community has been planning parking accommodations and informing hoteliers about the event.

“We’re right now pulling together the specifics on our parking plans and other public accommodations,” Savage said. “We will be holding a community meeting as well on March 6 to address questions about the race. We hope this will be a two-night event for some visitors.

“Cambria isn’t the most centralized location, so they’ll want to stay perhaps the night before and the night after.”

Savage said organizers will soon announce a time for the community meeting at the Veterans Memorial Building on 1000 Main St.

Amgen is making a concerted effort to reduce water consumption with the ongoing drought impacts, including using concrete instead of water-filled jugs to anchor tents, he said.

Savage also said visitors will be encouraged to use portable toilets to help reduce water usage from standard flushing.

The next day, May 15, the cyclists will embark on Stage 5 starting at the Pismo Beach Pier at 11:45 a.m. and finish in Santa Barbara at Cabrillo Boulevard and Garden Street. That stage will be 108 miles and include the San Marcos Pass on Highway 154.

Pismo Beach mayor Shelly Higginbotham said the city is “very excited to be the host city and think it’s a good way to showcase beautiful Pismo Beach and the benefits of cycling.”

Higginbotham said city officials also are making plans for accommodating a large crowd and have worked with hoteliers and coordinated with Rideshare of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments to encourage carpooling to the event. They also plan to reach out to local schools to work on bike safety.

Volunteers are encouraged to participate. For more information about the race or to volunteer, go to www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.

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