AMGEN tour opens in Tahoe basin | RecordCourier.com

AMGEN tour opens in Tahoe basin

Matthew Renda and Jason Shueh
Tahoe Daily Tribune

From North Shore to South Shore, locals are preparing to greet Amgen Tour of California spectators and competitors as the event touches the Tahoe Basin and moves into Nevada for the first time since the race’s inception.

The event, which has been a long time in planning, has communities around the basin overflowing with great expectations financially and as a tool to mark the Tahoe-Truckee region as a bike-friendly destination.

Stage 1 begins in South Lake Tahoe at 10:30 a.m. The peloton will make its way west through the commercial core onto Emerald Bay Road (between 11:09-11:16 a.m.) on the West Shore, then into Tahoe City (11:49 a.m.-12:03 p.m.) and Kings Beach (12:11 – 12:29 p.m.). From Kings Beach, the cyclists will continue on Highway 28 to the East Shore for a final loop around the lake before heading to Northstar-at-Tahoe where riders are expected to arrive between 3:12 and 4 p.m.

Roads will be closed at least a half-hour in advance of the arrival of the cyclists. Officials are recommending planning ahead for traffic when attempting to reach various viewing areas.

Sgt. Dean Buell of the Nevada Highway Patrol said the roads will be reopened as soon as the cyclists and support vehicles pass. California Highway Patrol officials said Brockway Summit will close to vehicular traffic 30 minutes before the race passes through. Spectators who are interested in witnessing the finish must be over the summit before the race comes through.

Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority, noted that it will be the first time in the history of the Tour of California that the race crosses into Nevada.

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For locally owned businesses attempting to thrive in Tahoe’s seasonally volatile market, the shoulder seasons (April-June; September-November) typically usher in lean times.

However, 2011 figures to be different as the Amgen Tour of California is set to commence on today with a host of pre-race events leading up to the tour’s starting gun.

Andy Chapman, director of tourism for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said the tour is the “biggest event to come to Lake Tahoe since the 1960 Winter Games” at Squaw Valley.

“Without a doubt, we’ll see the largest crowds as the cyclists gear up, check in with race officials and take their celebratory laps around the starting venues before heading onto the race courses,” Chapman said. “We’ll also see huge attendance at the race route’s end as cyclists sprint for the coveted yellow jersey, as well as the finish line’s Lifestyle Festival.”

Hefty crowds prefigure a boost in business for many entities near or along the race route, according to commerce officials.

Justin Broglio, executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association, said his organization has offered many local businesses educational services prior to the race.

“We are hopeful businesses will prepare for the busy days ahead with extra staff and extended hours,” he said. “Some restaurants are preparing special menu items for the race and a lot of the retail outlets will be selling Amgen gear and running specials. We hope visitors will take time to explore Tahoe City.”

Amelia Richmond, spokeswoman for Squaw Valley USA, where the second stage of the tour will begin on Monday, said the event will not only help businesses in the short term, but the national and international exposure the region will benefit Tahoe recreation-based businesses long term.

“Cycling is a global sport,” she said. “People from all over the globe will see the incredible mountain terrain and begin to view this entire region as a cycling mecca.”

Richmond said the region is currently established as a home to world-class winter athletes, but the race will help position it as a viable hub for summer athletes – particularly cyclists – as well.

Northstar-at-Tahoe Spokeswoman Jessica Van Pernis said the resort’s preparations for its Lifestyle Festival has been ongoing since last October, when they began coordinating efforts with tour event producers AEG.

“Our on-site preparations specific to the expo (the Lifestyle Festival) and the actual race finish have included working through the logistics with AEG of where the expo will take place on Northstar Drive, in the transit center and throughout the Village at Northstar,” Van Pernis said.

In addition, Van Pernis said the resort has been focused on preparation for a number of events throughout the course of the weekend, including its Wine Walk in the resort village on Saturday, live music throughout the weekend and other festivities.

Les Pedersen, director of sales and marketing for the Resort at Squaw Creek, said its hotel is seeing unprecedented occupancy rates for this time of year.

“We’re almost sold out Sunday, and for May that’s a real good thing,” Pedersen said.