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Morro Bay to host leg of 2016 Tour of California

A group of cyclists ride down North Thompson Avenue in Nipomo during stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California in May, when Pismo Beach and Avila Beach served as host cities.
A group of cyclists ride down North Thompson Avenue in Nipomo during stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California in May, when Pismo Beach and Avila Beach served as host cities. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Morro Bay will be a host city for the 2016 Amgen Tour of California bicycle race in May, staging a leg of race for the first time, possibly in the scenic Morro Rock parking lot.

The Morro Bay City Council authorized the negotiation of a contract with the biotech company Amgen, the race sponsor, at its last meeting, Mayor Jamie Irons said.

We’ll be a start stage, not an end stage. This is a big bicycling community. It’s very beloved by folks in the county. This is great for SLO County.

Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons

It’s unclear whether other San Luis Obispo County communities will be hosting legs of the race. In May, Pismo Beach and Avila Beach served as host cities for this year’s race. In 2014, Cambria and Pismo Beach were host cities.

Host cities throughout California for the 2016 race will be officially announced Thursday, including at a news conference in Morro Bay.

The eight-day race began in 2006 and each year covers 650 to 700 miles across the state of California.

Amgen anticipates that about 3,000 spectators would attend the Morro Bay staging event, according to a staff report presented at the last council meeting.

That’s about half of the number of people who attended one day of the city’s Avocado and Margarita Festival this year, according to the report drafted by Deputy City Manager Sam Taylor.

“The race would start at the Morro Rock parking lot,” Taylor noted. “This location also provides the only area of the community where the required amount of parking is available for the Amgen staff, racers, and media.”

Visit SLO County, a nonprofit organization marketing the county, has allocated $30,000 to help cover costs associated with Morro Bay hosting the event. And the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau, which uses a percentage of city bed taxes to help promote tourism, has allocated up to $16,000 for the staging.

The city is responsible for various costs and provisions, including guaranteeing 80 hotel rooms the night before the race for organizers and riders.

The city of Morro Bay also would be responsible for security, managing street closures, all permits that may be required, providing restrooms, providing meals at various times and locations, and more, Taylor wrote.

“In exchange for the provisions of the city, Morro Bay will be showcased worldwide — with an average viewer rate of 1.1 million seeing the community,” Taylor wrote. “That’s more than 1 million advertising impressions, in essence, for Morro Bay, in more than 200 countries and territories globally.”

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