Cycling race to come to Bakersfield

Gregory D. Cook
October 21, 2009
Filed under News

On May 20, 2010, an estimated 40,000 fans of Tour de France-style cycling will crowd Panorama Drive and Bakersfield College to watch nearly 200 professional cyclists, including seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, compete in the AMGEN 2010 Tour of California.

At a press conference at the Park at Riverwalk, Bakersfield mayor Harvey Hall announced the Bakersfield had been selected as one of the 16 cities to host the starts and finishes of the race’s eight stages.

“Cycling is very popular in Bakersfield,” Hall said.

He sited how a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors made it possible for Bakersfield to be chosen as one of the host cities. “The local enthusiasm for the sport, as evidenced by our local cyclists and community members, makes Bakersfield an excellent choice.”

The Tour of California covers over 750 miles in eight stages. This year the race will begin in Nevada City, California on May 16, and will make its way to a finish in Thousand Oaks, California eight days later. Bakersfield is slated to host the finish of the fifth stage on May 20.

While the exact route of the stage has not been announced it will start in Visalia and end on the Panorama Bluffs at Bakersfield College.

According to Amber Chiang, director of marketing and public relation for BC, the college is a natural choice for the event. “We have the room to accommodate all the fans, cycling teams and the international press that will be there,” she said.

The Bakersfield Sports Foundation played a large role in promoting Bakersfield as a host city for the race. Over the last year they have raised over $162,000 in donations from local organizations and individuals to be used for support and production of the event.

“This is America’s answer to the Tour de France,” Kerry Ryan, president of the Bakersfield Sports Foundation, and avid cyclist. “This is America’s largest cycling race. It doesn’t get bigger than this.”

Kerry is excited about the Bakersfield stage of the race because it will give the racers the opportunity to race in the rolling hills north of town. “We are hoping for a hilly stage,” he said. “We are hoping to get them up into the lower sequoias around the Woody and Glenville areas, then bring them up the bluffs for the finish.”

The title sponsor of the race, AMGEN, is a human therapeutics and biotechnology company that uses the race to promote awareness of the resources available to people fighting cancer.

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