While most of the city’s event staff is still brushing dust from their cowboy boots, plans are already in the works for next year’s Amgen Tour of California, the cycling tour that brings hundreds of riders and thousands of fans into Santa Clarita.
In a news brief appearing on the website cyclingnews.com, it was announced that the tour will move from its late February date to a more weather-friendly slot in May, allegedly May 16 to 23, 2010. The information was credited to International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid and Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, the race organizer.
Not everyone agrees on the change, although everyone contacted said the climate would be a bit kinder to the cyclists.
“We have spoken all along about the potential of moving the race to another date, and I can tell you that it will be moved out of February for 2010,” said Michael Roth, AEG spokesperson.
Asked if the potential date change was to allow for a terrain change as well by re-routing the race, Roth said that they are looking out for the riders.
“We look every year to make the course more challenging, adding new regions and areas to give the riders something new and different,” he said. “We’ve had three really exceptional years in Santa Clarita and I know they are submitting an RFP (request for proposal) to be involved. Our experience in Santa Clarita has been nothing but good.”
Santa Clarita Arts and Events Manager Phil Lantis said that the city has heard rumors about the date change, but nothing has been released or decided upon. He said that the city was planning on completing a Host City Proposal Package when dates are announced, which he anticipates will be within the next few weeks.
Moving an event the size of the Amgen Tour would take careful consideration of other events already in place – could they be re-scheduled or would that adversely affect public participation? Lantis said that a recent new event – the combination Earth Day-Arbor Day - was a success that they hope to repeat, and the popular Cowboy Festival just completed its 17th incarnation.
Lantis said that comparing Amgen to Cowboy was like comparing apples to oranges – the Amgen event is more of a road show that comes into town with personnel and equipment that the city supports. Depending on the amount of activities related to the tour – whether the racers finish or begin a stage in Santa Clarita and how long the riders are in town – influences the number of people who attend, including those who travel from out of town to follow the tour and stay locally. For Cowboy, the staff and city volunteer commitment is much higher, although area merchants reap much of the same benefits from out of town visitors and festival followers.
According to cyclingnews.com, Messick met with members of the International Cycling Union’s road commission at their Switzerland headquarters last week, where the dates were selected. The date change would move the Amgen event into a preparatory race for the Tour de France, which should attract a different class of riders.
Messick also told cyclingnews.com that if the dates had not been changed, the event may have not been held in 2010 because no one wanted to keep it in February.