There was plenty of excitement along several Central Coast roadways today. Tuesday marked the return of the Amgen Tour of California, which is billed as the biggest cycling event in North America.
“It’s phenomenal to see all the people here today and that they want to come out and enjoy beautiful weather, but also see the best teams and riders in the world right here in their city. People travel from across the entire United States and come from all around the world to be here,” said race president Kristin Klein.
Tuesday’s Stage 3 is the longest for the week-long race, which began Sunday in Sacramento.
The 119.6 mile stage started in Pismo Beach at the intersection of Pomeroy Ave. and Cypress St. and concluded about five hours later in Morro Bay.
In between the stage start and finish locations, cyclists pedaled through communities in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, including Grover Beach, Oceano, Guadalupe, Orcutt, Sisquoc, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, Edna Valley and San Luis Obispo.
“It’s fun and exciting,” said Ingrid Rodriguez, just before the stage start in Pismo Beach. “We see them on TV year after year and we’re super, super excited to see them right here in person.”
Today’s stage marks just the second time in the 12-year history of the race that San Luis Obispo County will have a start and a finish on the same day.
“Look at where we’re at today,” said Klein. “You could not ask for a better backdrop to start the biggest race in North America and the second biggest race in the world.”
No known total of spectators was released, but the race typically attracts thousands along the race route. In addition, the event was broadcast across the world on international television.
With so many people watching either in person or on television, it’s a vital opportunity for the area to market itself.
SLO CAL, which is the tourism and marketing arm for San Luis Obispo County, gave $50,000 to race organizers to help offset costs in Pismo Beach and Morro Bay.
“We buy into that partnership because we get two hours of live international television coverage,” said SLO CAL President and CEO Chuck Davison. “It’s a great way for us to showcase this county to a worldwide destination and talk to people about all the wonderful things that there are to do here and reasons to visit.”
While spectators and the television viewing audience undoubtedly enjoyed the spectacular Central Coast scenery, even the cyclists themselves admit to checking out the area during the race.
“You get glimpses,” said UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rider Travis McCabe. “You’re able to kind of race and you’re focusing on what’s happening, and then all of a sudden, you look out to the side and you see the beach and the coast and it’s pretty incredible.”
The 2017 Amgen Tour of California will conclude at the end of Stage 7 on Saturday in Pasadena.