The Cambrian

Cambria gears up for Tour of California bike race

Amgen Tour of California cyclists are seen south of San Simeon in 2007.
Amgen Tour of California cyclists are seen south of San Simeon in 2007. The Tribune

Local organizers are already laying plans in preparation for the arrival of Amgen Tour of California in Cambria in May.

The eight-day bicycle race, now in its eighth year, starts May 11 in Sacramento and finishes May 18 in Thousand Oaks. Sixteen top international professional cycling teams are expected to race along 750 miles of California roads in a series of challenging stage contests.

The fourth stage of America’s largest cycling race starts the morning of May 14 in Monterey, and ends in Cambria about 100 miles south.

Many cyclists and observers are expected to spend that night in the pines, and support crews are to arrive the night before. Total attendance could be between 1,000 and 2,000, including spectators in town to watch the conclusion of the race stage and participate in adjunct events, such as a Lifestyle Tent that can include some booths for local businesses.

May’s stage finish in Avila Beach attracted an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 spectators.

The race passed through Cambria in 2006, 2007 and 2008 on its way to a San Luis Obispo finish. The race was also due to pass through in 2011 on the way a finish in Paso Robles, but a landslide on Big Sur forced the route inland. This is the first year it will end here.

Tour organizers announced the host cities, including Cambria, on Nov. 5, after the Cambria Tourism Board agreed to spend up to $30,000 on race-associated expenses, including lodging costs, the same amount put up by the Avila Beach Tourism Alliance.

Assignments made

The Cambria board’s Events Committee met Dec. 11, and made the following organizational assignments:

  • Guy Savage, assistant county administrative officer, will be co-chairman of the Local Organizing Committee. He said that in his day job he represents the entire county, but for the Tour of California, “I’m a Cambrian.” He’ll also represent Pismo Beach to a lesser degree. Stage 5 starts in Pismo Beach on May 15. Savage said Cambria’s sponsorship role is more complex and will require more of his time.
  • Dave Flynn, county deputy director of public works, will serve as technical director.
  • Charlie Yates will be co-chairman of the organizing committee as well as operations director. He also co-chairs the Events Committee. Yates, who oversees Pacifica Hotel Co.’s Cambria lodgings, fills a vacancy on the tourism board created by the recent resignation of the Bluebird Inn’s Ken Cooper.
  • Victoria Moreno of Victoria’s Last Resort will be director of the Lifestyle Festival and of sales and partnerships. She also co-chairs the Events Committee.
  • At least four members of the Lions Club (likely Carol and Michael Broadhurst, Greg Wilson and Andy Zinn) will be part of the school/community outreach/and ancillary events group.
  • Suzy McDonald agreed to direct volunteers.
  • Julia Mitchell, the tourism board’s managing assistant, took on the tasks of the awards ceremony.
  • Jessica Blanchfield and MultiMarketing Corp., marketing consultants to the tourism board, will handle media and public relations.

Savage said there’s lots to do and not much time to do it. Economic benefits to the community can be huge, as can the impact of appearing on international TV broadcasts and other media coverage, he said.

Details of the route have not yet been announced. Savage said part of Main Street in West Village will be closed for the entire day. Sections of Cambria Drive will also be impacted.

The tourism board committees will also look at hiring an event coordinator, although some members indicated they’d rather wait to see if they really need one.

Another race possible

Tourism board members also heard a presentation at their Dec. 10 meeting that asked them to co-sponsor with San Simeon a two-day bicycle race, probably on the last weekend of May. The Giro della Costa Centralle Bike Race would replace the SLO GranFondo Race.

Get Off the Couch Potato Sports Productions representatives said they’ve purchased and are rebranding the GranFondo. They are changing the course in part because of parking and access constraints in downtown San Luis Obispo.