Tour of California bypassing San Francisco

For the first time in five years, the Amgen Tour of California will bypass San Francisco in the eight-day professional cycling race across the state.

Thursday, Tour officials announced the 15 cities the 2011 race will stop in; San Francisco, though, was notably absent.

Instead, next year’s Tour — slated for May 15 through 22 — will start by looping Lake Tahoe, go to Sacramento, crisscross the Central Valley, head down the Central Coast and finish in the title sponsor’s hometown, Thousand Oaks.

Andrew Messick, president of race organizer AEG Sports, said the route did not give opportunity to come through The City.

“It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle,” Messick said. “The route didn’t come together to include San Francisco, but we’ll be back.”

This year, the Tour made a stop in San Francisco and took the Great Highway out of town before heading south. Next year, cycling enthusiasts will be able to catch some of the race in Livermore and San Jose.

Seven cities are first-time stops for the Tour. Cyclists will start in South Lake Tahoe and make stops in North Lake Tahoe Northstar at Tahoe Resort, North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley USA, Sacramento, Auburn, Modesto, Livermore, San Jose, Seaside, Paso Robles, Solvang, Claremont, Mount Baldy, Santa Clarita and Thousand Oaks.

Some of the major highlights include a lap and a half around Lake Tahoe before crossing Donner Summit and descending to Sacramento. Riders will then make their way to San Jose by climbing through the Diablo Range. Following that mountain climb, riders will make their way down the coast before the final climb through Mount Baldy Ski Area.

According to Tour officials, the final climb with “steepness and switchbacks are legendary in the Southern California cycling
community.”

The race began in 2006 and quickly became the most successful race in the country regarding economic benefits to the state, global recognition and the level of competitiveness, according to organizers.

Teams have not been announced, but in a press release by Tour organizers, Lance Armstrong, leader of Team RadioShack, said the new route is expected to be both “compelling” and “exciting.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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