Tour of California cycling race may bypass SLO County next year

For the first time since its inception in 2006, it appears the Amgen Tour of California will bypass the Central Coast when it is held next year.

According to a cycling Web site, http://www.steephill.tv/tour-of-california/ , the race will begin May 16 in the Gold Country town of Nevada City and then feature stages in the Bay Area. A stage of the race would finish in Santa Cruz on May 18, but then the cyclists would head inland for two days of racing in the Central Valley before going on to Southern California for the finish on May 23.

The date of the tour is later, too, according to the Steephill Web site. Up to now, the Tour of California has been held in February, in large part so as not to conflict with races that occur in Europe in late spring.

But brutal weather conditions in the 2009 race – heavy rains, wind and cold temperatures – led to many complaints by the riders and caused Amgen organizers to reconsider when to hold their competition.

Amgen is planning to make an official announcement about the 2010 tour on Thursday morning.