The coastal city is hosting a leg of the professional cycling race for the first time. It’s one of 12 California partnering cities for the 11th annual event.
Spectators will have the opportunity to see world-class riders up close — for free — as they depart from the base of one of the Central Coast’s best-known landmarks. The starting point is likely to feature surfers on one side and boats in the harbor on the other.
Stage 4 will begin about 10 a.m. with cyclists pedaling at speeds of about 25 mph through town before picking up to 45 mph on Highway 1.
Racers will wind through our cool downtown and head north onto Highway 1, one of the most scenic and best rides of the California Coast.
Jamie Irons, Morro Bay’s mayor
The cyclists will pedal their way along the Embarcadero, turn left on Pacific Street through downtown and make a left on Main Street, which they will follow up to Yerba Buena. The riders will then join Highway 1, continuing up to San Simeon and past Hearst Castle, through Big Sur, over the famed Bixby Bridge, past Carmel-by-the Sea, and ending in Monterey County at Laguna Seca.
The city will hold rolling road closures, but the total time that cyclists will be on city streets is expected to be about 10 minutes or less.
The entire stretch of Stage 4 will be 133 miles long, the vast majority of it with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean.
“As the gateway to the North Coast, the city of Morro Bay is excited to have the Amgen Tour of California begin Stage 4 at the foot of the iconic Morro Rock,” Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons said in a statement. “Racers will wind through our cool downtown and head north onto Highway 1, one of the most scenic and best rides of the California Coast.”
Irons, a cycling enthusiast himself, has shared notes on the event with Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higginbotham.
Pismo Beach served as a host city of the Tour of California last year, along with Avila Beach.
Irons and other city officials said they see the race as a tourism draw that will help market the city’s natural beauty to the rest of the world through race broadcasts.
“We are so pleased with Amgen’s chosen route through Morro Bay, as it will bring great visibility to the businesses downtown and help showcase our wonderful community,” said Brent Haugen, executive director of Morro Bay’s Tourism Bureau.
Vendor booths will be set up along the route in Morro Bay, and the city will showcase its harbor and business community as part of the route.
Visit San Luis Obispo County is paying $30,000 on behalf of Morro Bay to mitigate impacts, including city staff time and catering expenses to host the event.
Morro Bay’s Tourism Bureau will pay $15,000 to sponsor local hotel stays for AEG officials who coordinate the race.