San Luis Obispo will host California’s first Amgen Tour of California professional bike race in February.
Professional cyclists from around the world will participate in the eight-day race starting in San Francisco and ending in Redondo Beach.
San Luis Obispo will host the finish to the fourth stage of the race on Thursday, Feb. 24 and the start on Feb. 25.
“We are a bike-oriented community and we are tickled to death with this,” Mayor Dave Romero said. “We will have a lot of city staff, police and sheriffs that will be protecting the routes when they come in.”
The route into San Luis Obispo will go from Turri Road onto Los Osos Valley Road, over to Chorro Street and finally to Monterey Street with a finish line in front of the court house.
Cal Poly’s industrial technology senior Lucas Euser will also participate in the race, riding with his fellow TIAA-CREF teammates. Euser will be racing with the some of the top cyclists in the United States and Europe such as Levi Leipheimer and members of Lance Armstrong’s former Discovery Channel team.
“It’s going to be a huge experience for me because it’s the first race where I have to get out and show them what I can do,” Euser said. “As a team we are going to go for stage wins. If I am part of that in any way that is enough for me. I don’t have to have personal success. If my team does well that is good enough.”
Euser began preparation specifically for this race in early November and will continue his rigorous training schedule until February.
“I will ride about 18 to 22 hours a week and my hard weeks are 22 to 30 hours. I spend some time in the gym and do other stuff like yoga and palates,” Euser said. “We take three or four months to get ready for the nine months of racing we do, so we are on our bike for 11 months out of the year.”
During this past summer, Euser was selected for the US national team in Europe and lived in Belgium where he participated in international races throughout Belgium and France.
Euser said his experience in Europe helped him prepare for large races such as the Tour of California. One of these experiences included his participation in the Tour de l’Avenir, the Tour de France for cyclists 26 years old and under. The 10 day race spans 1500 kilometers across the French countryside said Euser.
“They are actually really similar. That (Tour de l’Avenir) was a 10-day race and the Tour of California is an eight-day race,” Euser said. “It is the most similar to what I am going to be doing in February, and it was the harder thing I have ever done. It is going to be a challenge physically and mentally.”
Other activities will accompany the race such as a lifestyle festival, promoting healthy living, which will take place during the two-day event in Mission Plaza.
“We are hoping it (the race) will spill over into Farmer’s Market and we are planning on the local expo to take place later,” Linda Fitzgerald, organizing chair of the Tour of California said. “From what I understand, the racers will be around after the race to interact.”
Fitzgerald and Romero both said they would like to see a five-year commitment on the city’s part, making San Luis Obispo an annual stop for the tour.
“The people in the local organizing committees see the value in this,” Fitzgerald said. “We are very interested in having San Luis Obispo become a permanent stop on the Tour of California. We’re keeping our fingers cross on that one.”
The race will lead into San Luis Obispo’s infamous Mardi Gras weekend, which Romero said would hopefully eliminate past events.
“This is a healthier event that will replace that,” Romero said.
Fitzgerald said that the city feels prepared for the event with the past experience of hosting two Olympic torch runs, but the city is in need of up to 400 volunteers for the two day events. Cal Poly students are encouraged to participate in the event Fitzgerald said .
For more information on the Amgen Tour of California go to www.amgentourcalifornia.com or for volunteer information call Rich Ogden at 781-7305.