2010 AMGEN Tour includes Visalia & Bakersfield

Fresno, CA -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Last year's Amgen tour brought thousands of people to downtown Visalia. And with two Valley cities now off the list for next year's tour, officials here hope that means more opportunities for the area.

Visalia officials made the official announcement Thursday; that for the second year in a row, they will host the Amgen Tour of California and one of its premier riders, Lance Armstrong.

"We're excited that we're still the representative stage for the valley."

In fact, Visalia is one of the only Valley representatives. Unlike last year, the tour will not make stops in Merced or Clovis because officials couldn't include Yosemite National Park on its route.

Another change, the tour will take place in May instead of February, a move many say will guarantee good weather.

Visalia's mayor, Jesus Gamboa, said he hopes those changes will bring more visitors to the area. "Again, it's gonna generate a lot of enthusiasm like it did last year and I'm sure that it will have a positive economic impact on downtown Visalia and the surrounding communities."

With just seven months to go before the Amgen Tour makes its way into Visalia, businesses, like the Lamp Liter Inn, are already planning ahead. "I think it's great, absolutely. We have hotel rooms that need to be filled."

Meanwhile, city officials are working to make sure Visalia is not just a one-day stop for tour visitors, but rather a destination. "We're working with some of the cycling clubs to maybe put together some packages where maybe the more serious riders get a chance to experience the actual route and see both the start and the finish and look at packages that will give them the full experience rather than just dropping in, seeing them leave and then leaving town themselves."

The Amgen tour will take off from Visalia on May 20th. Cyclists will make their way to Bakersfield.

The Sequoia National Forest will be included on that tour, but at this point we do not know that specifics.

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