One student sporting a Cal Poly lacrosse jacket perched in a tree outside Hudson’s Grill and Bar to get a better view. Another group hung a canvas-sized sign from a building across the way that read, “Go #133 Lucas Euser.”
As the lead group of riders made the final turn onto Monterey Street, fans lining the sidewalk of downtown San Luis Obispo gave an appreciative roar as the whirring wheels blurred through the finish line.
Perfect weather, beautiful scenery and a world class bike race – locals and race organizers alike couldn’t have asked for a better day, San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero said.
“At least (the race) didn’t take place last Saturday,” Romero said. “It was another day in paradise.”
The decision to host a stage of the tour was an easy decision for Romero when Amgen approached him with the idea.
“I didn’t know there was such thing as a tour in the United States,” Romero said. “They told me they had had the Tour of Georgia for a couple years and they said, ‘Mayor, are you interested,’ and I said, ‘sure we are.’”
Fans had more than weather and a race to cheer about. Cal Poly student Lucas Euser crossed the finish in 101st place out of 109 racers, riding as a member of Team TIAA-CREF.
“I’ve been thinking about (the Tour of California) for the last four months,” Euser said. “It’s cool that everyone’s here and I’m happy that they get to see what I do and what cycling is all about. I saw a lot of go Lucas signs out there today.”
Euser’s followers were evident throughout the crowd, holding numerous signs supporting the local talent.
San Luis Obispo natives both young and old witnessed the race.
Manchoon Seetho, a 21-year-old computer science major at Cal Poly, isn’t an avid cycling fan, but attended the conclusion of Stage 4 because it was “something to do other than work.” Even though the only (former) cyclist he could name was Lance Armstrong, Seetho leapt at the chance to see a group of exceptional riders competing in San Luis Obispo.
“I don’t think it matters what town it is, it’s just great seeing world class riders (come through your town),” Seetho said.
The Tour of California has generated an enormous amount of interest for devoted cycling fans and greenhorns as well. Vice President of AMG Sports, Michael Roth, said roadside crowds have come in the vanguard of 680,000 according to estimates after the fourth stage, fast approaching the overall goal of one-million total for event.
The tour has a contract for the next three years, but has no obligation to return to San Luis Obispo, Romero said.
“They seem happy, we seem happy and hopefully they’ll come back,” Romero said.
The Tour of California will resume today with the peloton leaving San Luis Obispo at 10 a.m., departing from Monterey Street and winding its way to Highway 227 en route to Santa Barbara.