Paso Robles may be gearing up to announce that it’s secured a finishing stage in the 2011 Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race.
City officials declined to confirm or deny their participation until Thursday, but a press conference planned for Thursday suggests the big announcement.
The city, which formalized its application to race owner AEG on Sept. 21, sent out media invitations Wednesday for a conference call with tour officials on Thursday morning. A city press conference will follow later that afternoon “regarding Paso Robles’ possible role,” in the race, according to an email from city officials.
All host cities will be announced on Thursday, according to the Tour’s website, http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
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Solvang is also expected to make an announcement Thursday whether the race’s time-trial stage is coming back to the town, according to the Santa Maria Times.
If Paso Robles’ contract were secured, the race would arrive the day before the Paso Robles Wine Festival, officials have said. Though a specific date has not been announced, the wine event is scheduled to begin on May 20, 2011.
Paso Robles hosted its first stage finish in February 2009 when thousands of cycling fans lined Spring Street. The race skipped over the Central Coast entirely in 2010 when race organizers chose a more inland route and a May timeslot.
San Luis Obispo held stage finishes in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Race organizers revisited talks with Paso Robles this year for the 2011 race through a committee again chaired by police Chief Lisa Solomon, she confirmed in late September.
Tour officials "have strongly indicated they want to be here,” she said at the time, though negotiations were still underway.
Also as of late September, her committee had received $65,000 in sponsorship commitments for the race. City officials estimate it could cost $120,000 to host a stage finish in 2011.
San Luis Obispo didn’t apply for a 2011 stage because of that cost, officials there previously said.
Various North County community groups, including the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, urged the City Council last month to approve the city's application so they could create community marketing opportunities with the international attention the race attracts.
In October 2009, Messick told The Tribune that AEG “had a great experience in San Luis Obispo in years past and earlier this year in Paso Robles, " and that he hoped to bring cyclists through the Central Coast again.