2012 Amgen Tour of California steers clear of Auburn, Placer County

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn has failed to make the list of 13 Amgen Tour of California host cities and Placer County will apparently be bypassed altogether. AEG, presenter of the annual pro cycling race, announced from Los Angeles early Thursday its list of cities and it steers clear of the Auburn area. Auburn played host to the start of the tour's third stage last year and was on the route the year before for the Nevada City-to-Sacramento leg. An Auburn organizing committee submitted an application in August to again host a stage start. The application was one of more than 100 from California communities seeking a major role in what is billed as the largest and most prestigious cycling event in America. Reaction from Auburn’s Amgen proponents was one of both mild disappointment but continued hopefulness for a return visit in the near future. “It’s a little bit of a disappointment,” Mayor Bill Kirby said. “It would have been a coup to get three in a row. But it’s positive looking ahead. We have the organization ready to go and they know it.” Police Chief John Ruffcorn, chairman of the 2011 Amgen-Auburn organizing committee, said the decision to bypass Auburn wasn’t totally unexpected, given AEG’s desire to show off the diversity of California locations each year it holds the event. Given the glowing reviews from AEG for Auburn’s presence both in the 2010 pass-through and this past May’s Auburn start, Ruffcorn said the future looks bright for a return visit. “There is no doubt in my mind that they will be back,” Ruffcorn said. Dan Tebbs, owner of Victory Velo Bike Shop in Downtown Auburn, said Auburn should definitely lobby for a start, finish or pass-through in the future. “It’s been a good run,” Tebbs said. “And I think we’ll get it back. What I’ll miss in having it here was the buildup, the excitement and the buzz that we had in our shop.” The list of host cities made public Thursday shows Santa Rosa, San Francisco, San Jose, Sonora, Bakersfield, Palmdale, Ontario and Los Angeles as start points. The Amgen tour will start in Santa Rosa May 13 and end in Los Angeles May 20. AEG’s Amgen tour coordinator had positive words about Auburn and its future prospects of welcoming the event back. “Auburn has been a great partner for us,” tour executive director Kristin Bachochin said. “We look forward to having the opportunity of working with the city again in the future.” Bachochin said the decision to go with other cities had more to do with geography and logistics this coming year. “There are only so many cities we can go to,” Bachochin said. “Valerie (retired Police Chief Valerie Harris) and everybody on the organizing committee were fantastic to work with. We consider Auburn a long-term partner and our goal is to come back one day.” Michael Roth, AEG vice-president of communications, said that in seven years, San Jose has been the lone city to host a tour stage every year. “The reason new cities were chosen is to expose new fans to cycling and the Amgen event – but also because we’ve made a commitment to the California Tourism Board to continue to show off new iconic areas of the state and create new challenges for cyclists,” Roth said. The 13 host cities for 2012 are: - Stage 1: Sunday, May 13 – Santa Rosa (start and finish) - Stage 2: Monday, May 14 – San Francisco to Santa Cruz County - Stage 3: Tuesday, May 15 – San Jose to Livermore - Stage 4: Wednesday, May 16 – Sonora to Clovis - Stage 5: Thursday, May 17 – Bakersfield – Time trial, start and finish - Stage 6: Friday, May 18 – Palmdale to Big Bear Lake - Stage 7: Saturday, May 19 – Ontario to Mount Baldy - Stage 8: Sunday, May 20 – Los Angeles (start and finish) For 2012, Amgen will return as the title sponsor for the seventh consecutive year, leveraging its name recognition with a campaign to raise awareness about resources available to people affected by cancer. The route itself traverse a total of more than 750 miles.