Amgen in Tahoe: Revered bike race will begin first two stages here in 2011
LAKE TAHOE andamp;#8212; Itandamp;#8217;s official. The 2011 Amgen Tour of California is coming to Lake Tahoe.Stage one of the more than 800-mile race will start May 15 in South Lake Tahoe and end at Northstar-at-Tahoe after making one and a half clockwise revolutions of Lake Tahoe. Stage two starts at Squaw Valley USA, taking riders over Donner Pass and ending in Sacramento on May 16.Additional details of the routes will be released in December or January, said AEG Sports President Andrew Messick, which organizes the race, during a Thursday conference call hours after the location was announced.Selecting Lake Tahoe as the host of two stage starts is the result of a year and a half of work by an organizing committee including representatives from both shores of the lake, Messick said.South Lake Tahoe Mayor Kathay Lovell, who took part in those efforts, said she was andamp;#8220;ecstaticandamp;#8221; about the city hosting the race, during Thursdayandamp;#8217;s conference call.Andy Chapman, tourism director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said the addition of Lake Tahoe stages will provide a previously unseen uniqueness to this yearandamp;#8217;s tour. andamp;#8220;There is nothing quite like riding at elevation andamp;#8212; 6,300 feet,andamp;#8221; Chapman said in a Thursday statement. andamp;#8220;These cyclists are going to be pushing the envelope as they make their way up and down mountain passes and not once but twice around the national treasure of Emerald Bay State Park for a grand finish at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort. Equally spectacular will be the Stage 2 Start at Squaw Valley USA with Tahoeandamp;#8217;s famed granite peaks making for an unforgettable backdrop.andamp;#8221; A switch last year from February to May, opened the high Sierra as a destination for the Tour of California. The later start date also positions the race as a training ground for riders competing in the most prestigious event in cycling, the Tour de France, Messick said.Australian Michael Rogers of Team HTC-Columbia placed the Tour of California squarely behind the French race in terms of importance in the international cycling scene.andamp;#8220;For our team, thereandamp;#8217;s only one race more important to us than the Amgen Tour of California, and thatandamp;#8217;s the Tour de France,andamp;#8221; Rogers said after winning the 2010 race. andamp;#8220;This is a huge result for us. We can really walk away from the 2010 Amgen Tour of California with big smiles on our faces.andamp;#8221;Tahoe tourism officials also expect area businesses to walk away happy. The tour estimates it has a more than $100 million impact to California cities each year.andamp;#8220;Whether itandamp;#8217;s skinny or fat tires, Tahoe is a passionate biking community,andamp;#8221; said Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, in Thursdayandamp;#8217;s statement. andamp;#8220;Hosting the Amgen Tour of California, the countryandamp;#8217;s most prestigious bike race, will put us on the map as andamp;#8216;must rideandamp;#8217; for cyclists while having a significant impact on the local and regional economy.andamp;#8221;Spending from spectators and cycling teams benefit host cities immediately and long-term benefits from the race, which is broadcast live to 90 countries, include establishing the cities as andamp;#8220;cycling destinations,andamp;#8221; Messick added.Steve Teshara, a member of the Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association agreed.andamp;#8220;Securing a leg of the Amgen tour further solidifies our region as an outdoor sports mecca,andamp;#8221; Teshara said. andamp;#8220;Now, we have to ensure the tourandamp;#8217;s logistical needs are met.andamp;#8221;Local jurisdictions are responsible for coordinating the moving road closure necessary for the bicycle race. Host cities are also excepted to provide numerous concessions to race organizers, including hotel rooms for cyclists and their support teams.One logistical consideration for travelers the weekend of the race should not have an impact on the success of the race, Messick said.Highway 50 over Echo Summit, the primary road into the South Shore for travelers coming from the west, is expected to be at least partially closed for repairs the day of the first stage of the race.andamp;#8220;I donandamp;#8217;t think that it is going to have a huge impact,andamp;#8221; Messick said. andamp;#8220;There are plenty of alternatives to get to South Lake Tahoe, I-80 being the most obvious. The program that weandamp;#8217;re putting in place with partners on both the North Shore and South Shore is one that will be compelling enough to convince people to drive for a few extra hours to compensate for 50 being closed.andamp;#8221;But long delays and detours from the Highway 50 closure could sour visitors on the Lake Tahoe experience, said Mike Murphy, the owner of Roadrunner Gas andamp; Liquor in Meyers, in a Thursday e-mail.andamp;#8220;(The race) could do more damage than benefit if people get frustrated trying to get to Tahoe in May 2011,andamp;#8221; Murphy said.But Lovell contended the added travel time would only be a andamp;#8220;slight inconvenienceandamp;#8221; to travelers who have three other options for getting into the South Shore.She said the city will give race organizers the andamp;#8220;full commitmentandamp;#8221; needed to make the raceandamp;#8217;s Lake Tahoe segments a success.andamp;#8212; Reporter Matthew Renda contributed to this story.