For the first time, the City of Ventura will host a Stage Start for the Amgen Tour of California on Monday, May 14. This is the 13th edition of the “Tour”. This bicycle race is the largest annual cycling race in the United States and the only U.S. race that is sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale. The Tour attracts professional teams that race most of the year in the large, well-known European bike races such as the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.
The Tour begins on May 13 in Long Beach and ends on May 19 in Sacramento. Ventura is the second of seven stages in the Men’s race. The Women’s race is run on the last three days of the Tour.
The May 14 stage, Ventura to Santa Barbara, will start at the Ventura Pier at 11:15am. Spectators should arrive early in order to avoid road closures and traffic. Free bike valet parking will be on the Promenade at the base of California Street. Pre-race activities include lifestyle and sponsor booths along the Promenade. Pre-race is also an opportunity to see world-class cyclists close-up and maybe get some autographs.
The teams will ride a circuitous, 3-mile route through downtown Ventura at a much slower pace than race speed; creating excellent opportunities for seeing the racers. Harbor Boulevard, Main Street and San Jon will be particularly good viewing locations. Once the cyclists pass the official starting point for the race on Harbor Boulevard past San Jon, they will begin hammering the pedals and get up to their average race speed of close to 30 miles per hour.
The racers will travel through several Ventura County cities, including Oxnard, Camarillo, Santa Paula, and Ojai, on a very challenging route as they head to Santa Barbara County. The approximately 100-mile route has been modified slightly in Montecito due to the disastrous January mudslides. However, the stage finish is unchanged; the top of Gibraltar Road, the culmination of a relentless 8-mile climb. It is expected that the lead cyclists will reach the top shortly before 4pm.
A local recreational bicycle club, the Channel Islands Bicycle Club (CIBike), is part of the Local Organizing Committee which is led by the City of Ventura. CIBike has been recruiting the nearly 200 volunteers who will assist the Ventura Police Department in keeping closed city streets free of pedestrians and cars when the race comes through. CIBike holds monthly public meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at the Museum of Ventura County in downtown Ventura.
The April meeting featured the Tour of California and brought out many of the race volunteers. The next meeting, May 9 at 6:30pm, will feature Derek Towers, the Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Ventura and a member of the Local Organizing Committee for the Tour.
The May 14 race stage will be an excellent opportunity to cheer for, up-close, some of the best cyclists in the world. CIBike provides ongoing opportunities for locals to bike in a social group, see Ventura County’s towns and landscapes up close, and enjoy the many benefits of cycling. For more information, visit: amgentourofcalifornia.com and CIBike.org.