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Party, road closures set stage for Tour of California leg in Morro Bay

Amgen Tour of California bicyclists ride south on Highway 1 between Cayucos and Morro Bay in 2008.
Amgen Tour of California bicyclists ride south on Highway 1 between Cayucos and Morro Bay in 2008. Tribune file photo

To the delight of city leaders and bicycle enthusiasts, the 11th annual Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race will begin its Stage 4 leg Wednesday morning, leaving from Morro Rock.

This year marks the first time the city has hosted a stretch of the race.

About 1,500 to 2,000 spectators are expected to attend the Morro Bay start, which takes place at 10:10 a.m. at 101 Coleman Drive.

“This a great thing for us and for the business community,” said Brent Haugen, executive director of Morro Bay’s Tourism Bureau. “This event will bring us international exposure since it will be watched worldwide. You’ll have Morro Rock in the background, and people will connect that iconic landmark to this destination.”

The city has announced that a beach party, open to the public, will be held at the Coleman Park parking lot from 8 to 11 a.m.

This a great thing for us and for the business community.

Brent Haugen, executive director of the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau

Local businesses and nonprofit organizations will be on hand with barbecue, ice cream, fudge, kettle corn, coffee and more, said Sam Taylor, Morro Bay’s deputy city manager.

“We’d definitely recommend folks come down around that time to start enjoying themselves,” Taylor said.

Short road closures will be in effect along the race route from Morro Rock to Yerba Buena Street, Taylor said. Street parking along the Embarcadero from Morro Rock to Pacific Street will be closed from 6 a.m. until noon.

Those wishing to view the race start at Morro Rock are encouraged to park their vehicles away from the route and ride their bicycles or walk to the event area, since vehicle parking will be limited, Taylor said. There will be valet parking for cyclists at Morro Rock.

The following roadways will also be shut down from 9:50 to 10:25 a.m. Wednesday during the race:

▪  Embarcadero from Morro Rock to Pacific Street.

▪  Pacific Street from Embarcadero to Main Street.

▪  Main Street from Pacific Street to Yerba Buena.

▪  Highway 1 northbound off-ramps at Main Street, Highway 41, San Jacinto and Yerba Buena.

“Residents and visitors are encouraged to alter travel times and avoid driving near the affected areas as travel will be restricted,” Taylor said. “Traffic is expected to be very heavy, directly before and directly after the event, due to spectators.”

Haugen said Monday that hotel rooms in Morro Bay are still available around the days of the race, with the expectation that Tuesday night will be the busiest for lodging.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to alter travel times and avoid driving near the affected areas as travel will be restricted.

Sam Taylor, Morro Bay deputy city manager

He said San Luis Obispo is a partner city and will host some of the racers and teams, while Morro Bay’s inns will host event coordinators and staff members.

Some of the Morro Bay coffee shops and restaurants, open before and during the race, will be promoted in some of the race’s informational guides for visitors, Haugen said.

The racers will head north along Highway 1, finishing the stage in Monterey.

“Once the event is done, we’ll follow up with businesses to find out how they did and determine the impact of the event,” Haugen said.

During the race, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders will generate race-related data from cyclists including heart rate, speed, power, cadence and position within the peloton. The raw data will be transmitted to Dimension Data’s cloud, where it will be analyzed to provide insights through speed and group comparisons across different parts of the route, and shared via social media including Twitter and on TV.

“Stage 4 is a very beautiful part of the world,” said Adam Foster of Dimension Data. “It will be exciting to overlay our metrics on the TV broadcast that will display an amazing aesthetic and hopefully our data will provide a different level of understanding into this stage and race.”

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