The AMGEN Tour of California, a showcase of professional cycling that attracts some of the world's top riders, is bypassing the Valley with its route through the state next spring.
Officials in Clovis, which hosted stage finishes for the tour in 2009 and 2012, and Visalia, where race stages started in 2009 and 2010, expressed disappointment that organizers skipped their cities -- and surprise that the tour is skipping the entire Valley region from Bakersfield to Sacramento -- for the 2013 tour. The tour schedule was announced Tuesday.
For the first time in its eight-year history, the eight-day Tour of California will start in Southern California and head north. The 750-mile route begins in Escondido, in San Diego County, and finishes in Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County north of San Francisco.
"Taking the AMGEN Tour of California from south to north is something we always knew we wanted to do," said Kristin Bachochin, the tour's executive director. "We think this will bring a whole new element to the competition for the elite cyclists who participate."
Shawn Miller, business development manager for Clovis, said the city had hoped for another shot at hosting a stage start or finish next year.
"We would like to have had it because it is a great boost to the local economy," he said. "But it's a lot of work, too."
Miller was surprised, however, that Sacramento was not part of the 2013 tour. The state capital has been a tour stop in five of the past seven years.
"The Tour of California, like any other major road race, including the Tour de France, changes venues every single year; they like to shake it up," he added. "We've never expected to have it two years in a row. We were very excited to have it last year."
Several cities on the 2013 route have never hosted starts or finishes before, including Palm Springs and Avila Beach.
"California provides a variety of beautiful yet challenging terrain, helping us achieve our goal of creating a challenging route year after year," Bachochin said.
But several California cities have had the lion's share of the tour. San Jose has been part of the tour route every year since the first race in 2006, and Santa Rosa has been involved every year except 2011.
Tulare County Supervisor Phil Cox, who spearheaded his county's efforts to be part of the 2013 tour, said his committee learned several weeks ago that Visalia would not be included on the route.
"We're disappointed, but we told them that we want to be considered for future events," he said. "I think it's great for the county. It's a lot of exposure."
Cox was concerned, however, about the level of financial commitment sought by tour promoters from prospective host cities.
"Our only point of contention was the financial requirements," Cox said. "We offered a $40,000 to $50,000 cash commitment from our folks, but they were requesting in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $200,000 in support and sponsorships. We told them right up front we couldn't meet their list.
"We let them know we were interested in working with them, but not to contribute at the level they were requesting."
2013 AMGEN Tour of California schedule
Stage 1: May 12, starts and ends in Escondido
Stage 2: May 13, Murrietta to Palm Springs
Stage 3: May 14, Palmdale to Santa Clarita
Stage 4: May 15, Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara
Stage 5: May 16, Santa Barbara to Avila Beach
Stage 6: May 17, San Jose (time trial)
Stage 7: May 18, Livermore to Mount Diablo
Stage 8: May 19, San Francisco to Santa Rosa