Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2009 Amgen Tour of California will stop in Santa Cruz - report from press conference today

Mayor Ryan Coonerty announces Santa Cruz will be a stop on the Amgen Tour of California. Matt Twisselman, right, chairs the Tour's local organizing committee.

Ben Jacques-Maynes is a professional road cyclist who has raced in the Amgen Tour of California. Ben's jacket conceals the brace he is wearing to help heal his broken collarbone. Amazingly for his occupation, it is the first bone he has ever broken.

11 a.m. Santa Cruz, California

City officials, media, bicycling industry members and cycling enthusiasts gathered in Santa Cruz City Hall's courtyard for the press conference to announce the good news:

The Amgen Tour of California
professional cycling road race will stop in Santa Cruz in February 2009. The high-profile bike race, styled like the Tour de France, will cover 800 miles in California from February 14-22. It could attract as many as a quarter of a million visitors to Santa Cruz.

"It will be a challenge," said Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty, "but we are up to the challenge. We are proud to show off Santa Cruz." He also noted the Tour generates about $160 million dollars in revenue for the state.

The race will include stops in 16 host cities; this is Santa Cruz's first time being included in the race route; officials have spent three years courting the race organizers.

"We launched the effort to become a host city in 2006," said the City of Santa Cruz's Tina Shull, who has worked hard alongside Santa Cruz businessman Matt Twisselman, the lead organizer, and others who have assisted in the effort to attract the tour to Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is one of eight new cities selected for this year and the only coastal city. Though the race's exact route through the city has yet to be determined, the date is set: Stage 3, Monday, February 16, 2009 - the race that day will go from Sausalito to Santa Cruz - over the Golden Gate Bridge! The bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic the day of the race.

Approximately 120 riders (17-18) teams participate in this Tour, which will enter its fourth year in 2009.

Avid cyclists Jim Gentes, founder of Giro helmets, and Piet Canin, a founder of Bike Week in Santa Cruz, were on hand at the press conference.