The Amgen Tour of California — the professional bike race that skipped the Central Coast this year — may return to San Luis Obispo County next May.
Paso Robles has once again applied to host a stage finish for the event, which lured thousands of spectators into its downtown in February 2009. The City Council on Tuesday approved the application for the 2011 event.
Race owner AEG is keeping its newer spring slot for the race in 2011; previous Tour of California races were held in February. Organizers moved it for 2010 from winter to spring in part so cyclists could traverse the Sierra Nevada range without being pelted by rain or snow.
That decision detoured the race out of the Central Coast, resulting in no stage finishes in San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles, as had happened on previous routes.
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This time, however, race organizers revisited stage-host talks with Paso Robles through a committee again chaired by police Chief Lisa Solomon.
“It is still in negotiation,” Solomon said Wednesday. “They have strongly indicated they want to be here, but the whole route has to line up with all cities in place for our finish to come together.” An official announcement will be made in early October, she added.
Various community groups, including the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, urged the City Council to accept the city’s letter of intent to again be a stage host in 2011.
If a contract were secured, the race would arrive in Paso Robles on May 19, the day before the Paso Robles Wine Festival.
The consensus was that the race’s arrival on that day would lead to marketing opportunities combining the bike tour and the wine event, officials said.
City organizers also thought of that when negotiating for the 2010 race, but in the end, AEG stuck to a more inland route.
San Luis Obispo didn’t apply to be a stage host in 2010 because of budget concerns, city officials have said. Calls to the city weren’t immediately returned Wednesday on its status for the 2011 race.
Calls to Amgen officials also were not immediately returned.