AMGEN Tour of California

Fresno, CA, USA I am standing where stage five of the race starts. The 4th annual AMGEN tour of California bike race will travel throughout the central valley for the first time. The race is expected to bring not only Lance Armstrong but millions of dollars for our local communities.

City leaders from Visalia and Clovis came together to announce the route of February's highly anticipated AMGEN tour of California bike race. Competitors will travel 750 miles in 9 days starting in Davis, hitting the Bay Area and Modesto before it reaches the Central Valley. Stage four of the race will begin in Merced going north on hwy 140 towards Yosemite, through Mariposa, hitting altitudes of 4,000 ft.

Mike Shuemake, Technical Director, Clovis, (30-40)" once they get to bass lake it will be downhill and they'll probably be hitting speeds of around 60 miles an hour for a pretty exciting finish."

Stage five begins in downtown Visalia and crosses 134 miles before finishing in Paso Robles.

Mike Camarena, Visalia Technical Director, "They leave Visalia and head due west into flatland, farmland areas of Tulare County, crosses over into Kern County to get into the hill portion and then into Paso Robles."

The finish line of the race is in Escondido, San Diego County. Officials say the race will be an international event with seven-time Tour-de-France winner Lance Armstrong announcing that he'll also be competing in the race.

Camarena, "That in itself just creates all kind of excitement that you have an international athlete who's now coming to your hometown."

Armstrong's star status and the mere magnitude of the race is expected to bring a total of $100 million dollars to the race's host cities. Excitement over the race has prompted friendly competition between Clovis and Visalia over which city has the most difficult stage. The Merced-Clovis leg has the steepest climbs.

Bob Whalen, Mayor of Clovis, "The spectacular finish of what will be the most challenging day of this amazing race."

While the Visalia-Paso Robles portion is the longest.

Camarena, "This is an opportunistic stage. We may have a dozen riders that will take advantage of the flatlands until I-5 and then go to the hilly portion if the stage."


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