PHOTOS BY STEPHEN K PEEPLES
The Santa Clarita Valley waved goodbye as the Amgen Tour of California raced out of Santa Clarita on Wednesday afternoon.
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The 750-mile world-renowned annual cycling race ended the third of eight stages Tuesday, and started the fourth around 12:30 p.m.
The race is now heading to Santa Barbara, as it makes its way from the southern part of the state to the north for the first time ever this year.
‘A Perfect Santa Clarita Day’
“This was a perfect Southern California Santa Clarita day,” said Michael Roth, vice president of communication for AEG, which organizes and promotes the event. “It’s very rare that we finish in a city and then start in the same city the next day, but obviously the location works really well for us. We really, really like it here in Santa Clarita.”
Fans who made it out to the race had a chance to talk with the riders who were hanging out and talking to enthusiasts before the race.
Janier Acevedo, of Colombia, led in the overall standings at the end of Stage 3, despite Slovakian Peter Sagan winning Stage 3.
Barry Bonds with Amgen Racers
Former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, who was friends with one of the cyclists, stopped by to check out the race and chat with his buddies.
“I enjoy cycling and a couple of my guys are in the race, guys I like to follow, like Andy Schleck (pictured with Bonds), Peter Sagan, Ed King and I are in STRAVA (a cycling club) together, so it’s cool. I like it a lot,” Bonds said.
The peloton, or main body of cyclists in a race, took off from McBean Parkway in Valencia, and local cyclists gathered at various points to watch the professional riders.
Thumbs-Up from Santa Clarita Velo
“As a cyclist, to have them riding over our amazing mountain passes… they made it up and down some of the biggest climbs that we suffer on — I wouldn’t say with ease — but it certainly didn’t break up the pack too badly,” said Tom Barron of Santa Clarita Velo, a local cycling club (pictured at left).
“I would say that the layout of the route this year was exceptional,” Barron said. “We really enjoyed having everybody here.”
Amgen Tour of California in Santa Clarita 2014?
This was the city’s fifth time hosting a stage in the eighth annual race. Race officials solicit bids toward the end of summer, said Rick Gould, recreations director for Santa Clarita. At that time, the city would decide whether it wants to host again.
The bidding process to host the event requires the city to submit that it can meet the needs Amgen Tour officials with an adequate number of available amenities like restaurants and hotels, as opposed to a dollar-amount bid, Gould said.
“We always evaluate all of our events at the end, but we were pleased with the attendance both days,” Gould said. “It was certainly a challenge for us on the weekday as opposed to the weekend, and we certainly appreciated the residents’ cooperation.”
Pictured about to start Stage 4 on Town Center Drive in Santa Clarita are (from left): Andy Schleck (partial; RadioShack Leopard); Chad Beyer (Champion System Pro Cycling Team, in white jersey); Lawson Craddock (Bontrager Cycling Team); Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman team, and overall race leader as of the end of Stage 3); Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleile-DCM Procycling Team); Carter Jones (Bissell Pro Cycling, polka-dot jersey); Timmy Duggan (Team Saxo-Tinkoff, blue jersey); Michael Rogers (Team Saxo-Tinkoff); and Peter Sagan, Stage 3 winner (Cannondale, green jersey).
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Source: Santa Clarita News