More than 35,000 Expected to Watch Amgen Tour of California Overall Start in Santa Rosa May 13, 2012

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One of America's biggest cycling events will kick off in Santa Rosa, CA May 13, 2012. See why it's expected to draw huge crowds the entire weekend.

Cycling mania will hit downtown Santa Rosa May 13, when more than 35,000 people are expected to watch the first stage of the eight-day Amgen Tour of California.

The Amgen Tour of California is one of the nation's largest and most recognized annual sporting events. This prestigious cycling road race draws elite professional teams and athletes from around the world including many Tour de France competitors.

From downtown Santa Rosa, the first stage of the race will traverse a 116-mile circuit that will take cyclists on a scenic but challenging trek through the Sonoma County Wine Country, Russian River area and the Sonoma Coast. The race is expected to take about four hours.

Tour-related activities before and during the race include:

  •     Amgen Tour of California Kick-off Concert, Thursday, May 10: A free concert featuring critically acclaimed singer/songwriter/musician Carrie Rodriguez and other acts kicks off the weekend of bike racing.
  •     Santa Rosa Soiree, Friday, May 11: This gala evening at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in Windsor will introduce to the public the teams and riders participating in the Amgen Tour of California. Includes live music, artisan food, wine, and a special auction. Ticket information is available at http://www.santarosa2012.com.
  •     Team Swift Junior State Criterium Championships, Saturday, May 12: From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Team Swift Junior Development Cycling Program will host the Junior State Criterium Championships in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Administration Center, in conjunction with the start of the Amgen Tour of California. Riders between 10 and 18 years of age will compete in their age categories for the championship titles. Also in the afternoon will be Elite Category Criterium races for all ages.
  •     Life Time Gran Fondo California, Saturday, May 12: This series of 15-, 31- and 62-mile rides from downtown Santa Rosa benefits Breakaway from Cancer, Amgen's program to increase awareness of the resources available to those affected by the disease. For more information, including registration, visit http://www.ltgranfondo.com.
  •     Race day activities, Sunday, May 13: The seventh edition of the race starts in downtown Santa Rosa at 10:30 a.m. The race will make two circuits around downtown and head north through the vineyards to the town of Windsor before returning through Santa Rosa, then heading west to the coast. Live music, a lifestyle festival, race video and an awards ceremony will be part of the festivities.

For the latest news about the tour's start in Santa Rosa, please go to: http://www.santarosa2012.com.

Santa Rosa as a cycling destination
The community's enthusiasm in embracing the Amgen Tour of California highlights the city's reputation as a cycling-friendly destination. Saying cycling is a passion for Santa Rosa and Sonoma County would be an understatement. Blessed with mild weather, beautiful scenery, and a great blend of challenging roads/terrain and gentler rides, the area has become a magnet for cyclists, who regard the area as one of the best in the world for both training and sightseeing.

In fact, professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer, a three-time winner of the Amgen Tour of California who is expected to compete again this year, makes his home in Santa Rosa. Leipheimer has said, "I've made a life out of riding and racing my bike all over the globe. With the entire world from which to choose, I opted for Santa Rosa."

In 2009, Leipheimer initiated an event called Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge GranFondo (or Levi's GranFondo) that begins and ends in Santa Rosa, as a way for professional, amateur, and recreational cyclists to ride together in a challenging, long-distance mass-participation cycling event. More than 7,500 riders participated in the GranFondo in 2011. This year's event is slated for September 29.

One reason both competitive and recreational cyclists love Sonoma County is its rural character. It boasts 1,400 miles of lightly traveled secondary roads and a growing number of off-road bike trails. Some of the favorite off-road spots include Annadel State Park and Spring Lake Regional Park.

A number of companies within Santa Rosa and Sonoma County provide guided bicycle tours to visitors. Some tour companies supply everything you'll need, from bikes to picnic lunches. Here are a few options:

  •     AceIt Bike Tours
  •     Getaway Adventures/Wine Country Bike Tours
  •     Sonoma Cycling Adventures
  •     Ride Like A Local

Visitors wanting to tool around town or visit the countryside at their own pace can also simply rent bicycles:

  •     BikePartners.net
  •     Echelon Cycle & Multisport
  •     NorCal Bikesport
  •     Rincon Cyclery
  •     The Trek Bicycle Store
  •     Uber-Bike

About Santa Rosa
As the largest city within Northern California Wine Country, Santa Rosa offers plenty of attractions in addition to cycling for those wishing to spend some quality time here, including wine tasting, other types of outdoor recreation, world-class cuisine, and a wide range of entertainment and shopping opportunities. For more information about what to do and see in Santa Rosa, go to http://www.stayshopplay.com or http://www.facebook.com/santarosastayshopplay.

Places to stay: Lodging options in Santa Rosa include a wide range of experiences, from full service accommodations with spa amenities to family-oriented, budget-minded comfort stays. Visitors will find a variety of nationally known hotel brands, such as the Courtyard by Marriott Santa Rosa, Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa, and the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel, as well as long-time local favorites, the Fountaingrove Inn and Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa.

Boutique hotels like Hotel La Rose, a historic landmark for over 100 years, offer old-world charm and downtown convenience. Also available are B&Bs, such as the Melitta Station Inn. For a complete list of lodging options, please visit http://www.visitsantarosa.com/hotels.

Journalists may contact Jack Wolf of Wolf Communications at (707) 575-4415 or jack(at)prwolf(dot)com. High-resolution images are available by request.

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