There will be much more at stake than civic pride when the Amgen “Tour of California” bicycle race rolls into Modesto on May 19.
“Our downtown (business) corridor really benefits, as do some of our outlying businesses, especially restaurants and hotels,” said Andy Johnson of the Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Department. “Amgen brings as much as $10 million in revenue to its host cities. We plan to apply for it (host-city status) every year, as long as the community continues to support it.”
Amgen’s Tour of California has become one of the most anticipated professional cycling races in the world.
It begins Sunday, May 16, in Nevada City. Bicycle racers are scheduled to arrive in Modesto on Wednesday, afternoon. The city is the finish line for Stage Four of the week-long race, which starts in San Jose at 11 a.m. and rolls through Patterson before ending the day at the intersection of 12th and I streets in Modesto. The race ends May 23 in Southern California.
Stage Four will finish with two circuits in the heart of the Modesto’s downtown business district.
“The City of Modesto is honored that the Amgen Tour of California has chosen to call Modesto home once again,” said Mayor Jim Ridenour in a recent statement. “The community is completely behind this international event and looks forward to welcoming the world’s best cycling athletes and their fans to Modesto once again!”
Originally run in February, the capricious weather that California experiences at that time of year prompted Amgen to move the race to May. That put the race up against a premier Italian bicycle race, but Amgen organizers say they are not worried.
The 2010 race marks the third year that the event has come through the city and the second consecutive year that a race stage has concluded in Modesto. The first time Amgen hit town, Modesto was a race stage starting point.
Not only does the bicycle race attract spectators from across the state and around the world, it also is telecast to an international audience of bicycle racing enthusiasts. The city would have a hard time buying such publicity. Thanks to Amgen, it’s free of charge.
“It does go beyond economics,” said John Sanders, a Modesto stage race volunteer and co-chair of the city’s Lifestyle Festival, which uses the bicycle race as a backdrop. “It’s a feel-good event for the entire community. Environmentally, it’s a really, really good event.”
The Lifestyle Festival, which focuses on healthy living, features a “Breakaway from Cancer Village.” The American Cancer Society is behind the event, which also is supported by Hospice. The Village provides up-to-date information on community resources for cancer victims and their families.
Booths and vendors associated with the Lifestyle Festival will be placed along I Street between Seventh and 13th streets.
Other sponsors include Memorial Medical Center of Modesto, Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Ovarian Cancer Alliance.
This year, a special art show will be held at the Gallo Center for the Arts in conjunction with the Lifestyle Festival and the Breakaway from Cancer Village.
Another volunteer group, led by Bob Quintella and David Cooperider, is responsible for working out festival and race day logistics. This group handles everything from the renting and placement of “port-a-potties” to the hay bales that line the race route. Much of the equipment needed is donated by various businesses and organizations.
“The Amgen people lay out the race route (from San Jose to Modesto),” Quintella said, “and we help them map out the downtown (Modesto) route and finish line.”
New this year is an exhibition bicycle race, which will be held at noon in downtown Modesto before the Amgen riders hit town. The course must be cleared by 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19, in anticipation of the Amgen riders.
Chuck Hodge, who serves as the Tour of California’s technical director, says becoming a host city is a multi-part process. A number of factors are considered when a city submits its bids, including the size of the city, the amenities it offers (restaurants and hotels, among other things) and media exposure for Amgen sponsors.
“We’re very happy here in Modesto,” said Hodge. “It’s a great fit for the race and what we’re trying to accomplish here in California. We think we bring a good product to the community.”