PALMDALE – The City of Palmdale announced Wednesday the route participants will take from Palmdale in the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, the largest cycling event in America.
The Palmdale stretch starting May 18 is the sixth stage of the overall race, and goes from Palmdale to Big Bear.
“The Amgen officials really wanted to showcase Palmdale and all that we have to offer, and when they saw Marie Kerr Park they knew they had an incredible starting location,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford in a press release.
Sponsorship/Marketing Specialist Stella Knight said there were over 100 cities that applied to host some part of the Amgen Tour, and every city had to be invited to apply.
“Being a start city is very unique from a spectator’s view,” Knight said. “If they want to get an autograph, the (riders) will stand and sign until the race starts.”
This start is also a neutral start meaning that the riders have a warm up period, she added.
“We like to parade the group out of town,” Knight said. “As soon as they hit Sierra Highway, the clock starts.”
Thomas Lackey, city council member, said the race will give the City of Palmdale positive worldwide recognition.
“The whole world is watching,” said John Mylnar, communications manager. “The spotlight is on Palmdale.”
Lackey added that this will be a favorable event for the entire Antelope Valley because of the purchasing value Lancaster and Palmdale will gain through their shops, restaurants and hotels.
Knight said Palmdale will be supporting over 200 riders as well as their entourage.
“The route goes right through the heart of our beautiful city, passing residential areas, the region’s premier shopping location at the AV Mall and 10th St. West, past City Hall and up into the San Gabriel mountains,” said Ledford, also in the press release “It will provide many opportunities for residents to see and experience this amazing race.”
Mylnar said the City Of Palmdale first hosted a section of the race in 2010.
The route was originally from Pasadena to Big Bear, but they had a huge storm blocking off that passage, he added. Six weeks before the race began, the location was moved to Palmdale.
“They were very impressed with what we did in six weeks,” Mylnar said. “Imagine what we could do if we had more time to prepare.”
Palmdale’s route is the sixth stretch on the Amgen Tour. The race officially starts May 13 in Santa Rosa and ends May 20 in Los Angeles, and riders could potentially cover more than 750 miles.
The Amgen is a team race, and is won by having the lowest cumulative time, Knight said.
“Not everyone rides every leg,” she said. “There is a team winner and an individual winner. Some people who are good at climbs will do one leg of the race and others will be good at the breakaway of the race.”
The breakaway is someone who can take a lead in a large group of people at the start of a race, Knight said.
Special events will be held before and on the day of the start. Mylnar said they will be announced as they are finalized.
Mylar added that there will probably be viewing parties, a bicycle safety program for children, and some other events going on around the mall.
During this year’s Amgen tour, cancer survivors will be honored and celebrated “through a variety of events including Breakaway Miles, a special one-mile walk that crosses the finish line to honor cancer survivors,” according to the press release.
The press release stated that this will happen through “Breakaway from Cancer, a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship.”
Almost 5,000 volunteers are needed for the entire event. Anyone interested can apply on the official race website, www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com or at the City of Palmdale’s Web site, www.cityofpalmdale.org/ATOC.