Clovis News

2011 Amgen Tour skips Valley

It's official -- the central San Joaquin Valley won't be part of the Amgen Tour of California next year.

The sixth annual professional cycling race, which selected Clovis as a stage finish in 2009 and Visalia as a stage start in 2009 and 2010, instead decided to take a coastal route through Central California.

The race will visit seven new cities in 2011 and cover more than 800 miles from May 15-22. Modesto will host the finish of Stage 3, which starts in Auburn, on Tuesday, May 16.

Clovis submitted a formal bid by its Local Organizing Committee for a stage that would start or end in Clovis, said Shawn Miller, the city's business development manager.

Miller said he worked with officials from Yosemite National Park and Mariposa to compose a route that would meet with Amgen's requirements.

"It included Yosemite with a couple of alternatives," Miller said. "We know they want Yosemite and that it's important to them; and the conversation with Yosemite went very well."

But, Miller said, the Fresno area was not part of Amgen's plans this year.

"We can't have our feelings hurt," he said. "They move this race around every year."

Visalia did not put in a formal bid to host a stage for next year's race.

Teams were not announced Thursday, although Lance Armstrong says he and his Team RadioShack are looking forward to the event. Last May, Armstrong crashed at the beginning of the stage that started in Visalia and had to abandon the race.

The first day of racing in May 2011 will include 11/2 laps around Lake Tahoe. The riders will then summit Donner Pass on the way to Sacramento. On the way to San Jose, the riders will venture into the Diablo Mountains for the first of two mountain stages.

Later, they will climb to the Mount Baldy ski area, known for its steepness and switchbacks.

Also left the off the schedule was Santa Rosa, which has been part of the Tour of California since its inception. Three-time winner Levi Leipheimer, a Sonoma County resident and internationally ranked racer, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that what lies ahead for Santa Rosa will make it worth the wait.

He said can't disclose any intelligence about the future role Santa Rosa may play in the tour, but hinted the city would be heavily involved in 2012.

Next year's tour "will be a good break for Santa Rosa," he said. "I think that we need that because from things I do know, we're going to need two years to prepare for next year."