Davis to host Tour of California in 2010

The Amgen Tour of California will return to Davis in 2010.

Race officials announced yesterday that the city of Davis will again be a host city in the professional cycling road race. On May 17, 2010, the second stage of the eight-stage race will begin in Davis, leading cyclists on their way to the finish line in Santa Rosa.

It will mark the fourth time the race has passed through town and the second time Davis has hosted the second stage of the race.

“This is big news for us, and it fits so well with our identity as a community,” said Davis Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor. “This is Bicycle City, USA. You can’t get better than this.”

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong announced he would compete in the fifth-annual race, sparking enthusiasm from organizers and fans. Returning to the tour for a second consecutive year, Armstrong is expected to be a top competitor.

Also competing will be three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer, as well as cycling pros Dave Zabriskie and George Hincapie.

City spokesman Bob Bowen said the city has not yet negotiated the race route through Davis.

“We’re hoping that it will start in the same place as it did last year, near Third and C Streets at Central Park, so we can use it for sponsor booths and maybe even a benefit for a worthy cause on Sunday prior to the Monday start,” Bowen said.

One of the biggest changes for the race this year is the date. For the past four years it was held in February. In 2010, the tour will run eight days from May 16 to May 23.

AEG Sports President Andrew Messick said there were several reasons for this.

One is that it opens up opportunities to have the race in places that would be snowed in or too cold during the winter months. It also minimizes the possibility of rain, which dampened the race in both 2008 and 2009.

“There really are only two legitimately rainy months in California, and those are January and February,” Messick said. “So for us, we really felt that to be able to showcase the California that we know and love – blue skies, warm weather – we needed to be in the spring.”

Another consideration was the timing of the racing season itself.

“As we continue to grow our race, we aspire to be an important part of the cycling calendar,” Messick said.

Having the tour in February made it less of a priority for top athletes, and it also meant they weren’t necessarily in top shape, he said.

Several new cities have been added to the race this year as well: Nevada City, Bakersfield, Big Bear Lake, Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills.

JEREMY OGUL can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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