Between Pismo and Morro Bay, Tour of California cyclists will race through downtown SLO

The Amgen Tour of California bike race will feature riders cycling through a huge swath of San Luis Obispo County in May, including a route that runs right through downtown San Luis Obispo for the first time in recent years.

The prestigious cycling event will visit the county May 16 for the third stage of the route. The 113-mile stage both begins and ends in the county — a huge boon because the race draws thousands of bicyclists, their families and fans to the stages’ starts and stops. Attendees rent hotel rooms, eat and shop in the host cities, boosting the local economy.

This year’s Stage 3 segment will start at the Pismo Pier, before cyclists head south through Oceano and into northern Santa Barbara County, riding through Guadalupe and Orcutt and looping back up into San Luis Obispo County in Nipomo. The race will then travel up through the Edna Valley and into San Luis Obispo along South Higuera Street into downtown.

This will be the first time the race runs through the heart of San Luis Obispo since 2014.


San Luis Obispo city tourism manager Molly Cano said the city is “very excited about the opportunity to work with Amgen Tour of California.”

“As a pass-through town along the race route, we are enthusiastic about the global exposure that the race will bring to SLO and the positive impact it will have for our community promotion,” she said.

Cano noted that the city would be working with the SLO Downtown Association and other regional partners to set up a place downtown where residents and visitors can stop to watch the racers as they ride by, plus set up televisions to stream the rest of the race.

After San Luis Obispo, the race will loop up toward Morro Bay via back roads and Highway 1, run through Morro Bay State Park and along the Embarcadero before ending in a final dash up Harbor Street.

The Tour of California is an eight-day professional cycling race that was first held in 2006. It covers between 650 and 700 miles through many iconic landscapes in the state.

This year, the men’s race will start May 14 in Sacramento and end May 20 in Pasadena. The women’s race will start May 11 in South Lake Tahoe and end May 14 in Sacramento.

The tour is sponsored by Amgen, a Thousand Oaks-based biotech company.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie