LAKE TAHOE — As an announcement nears, officials are anxious to know if pro cycling's Amgen Tour of California will select Lake Tahoe to kick off its 2011 race, a choice that could spell huge revenues for North and South Shore businesses.
Last week, site inspectors with Amgen visited the region to evaluate the lake as a potential race route, accompanied by Andy Chapman from the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and representatives from Squaw Valley USA and Northstar-at-Tahoe.
During the two-day visit, inspectors were given tours of the proposed route that begins in South Lake Tahoe before wrapping around the lake one and a half times, to end at either Northstar or Squaw. According to proposal, the first two stages of the race would take place at either Squaw or Northstar, although it's unsure which resort venue will host the start of both stages. While the second stage would begin at one of the resorts, it most likely will end somewhere outside the basin.
Chapman described the inspectors' impressions as positive.
“I think they certainly were interested in what they saw,” Chapman said.
After inspectors finish visiting other areas in the hunt, an announcement is expected sometime in mid to late September, said Chapman, adding there are no guarantees Tahoe will be selected or if the route will be the one proposed.
“Now we're going to have to sit on the sidelines and wait it out,” he said.
Julie Maurer, vice president of marketing and sales at Booth Creek Ski Holdings, which manages Northstar, said she thinks the inspectors were left with a good impression of what Tahoe has to offer.
“I think it went really well, and probably the greatest thing is the North Shore and South Shore are cooperating on the proposal,” Maurer said. “I think the inspectors were particularly struck by Emerald Bay and how beautiful that would be on television.”
NLTRA has worked with the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority in South Lake Tahoe on the Amgen proposal for the past few months.
On their tour at Northstar, Maurer said the inspectors were shown where a potential finish or starting line could lie around the village, as well as the resort's Highlands View road, a possible entry point for the riders into the resort.
Sean Kristl, marketing manager at Squaw, said reactions from inspectors were similarly positive in Olympic Valley.
“From what I know the site inspection went really well,” Kristl said. “Overall they were pleased.”
If Tahoe is selected, Chapman and the influx of professional talent combined with a sure-to-be large tourist crowd will mean a huge economic boost for the region.
Maurer said the race would bolster Tahoe as a bike and vacation destination nationally and internationally as it's televised on the Versus cable network in the US and abroad in Europe.
In 2010, the stage 1 race start was in Nevada City, ending in Sacramento, with stage 2 starting in Davis and ending in Santa Rosa.