Amgen Tour of California adds to Lake Tahoe’s cycling legitimacy | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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Amgen Tour of California adds to Lake Tahoe’s cycling legitimacy

Local toursim agencies reflect on what it means to Lake Tahoe to have an event like the Amgen Breakway from Heart Disease Women's race come to town.

When people think of Lake Tahoe, the typical things that come to mind are winters on the slopes and summers on the lake. For many others, however, cycling is the draw for visiting the region.

Much of this interest in cycling is intrinsic to being in the mountains, but also having local agencies putting in the legwork to promote Lake Tahoe as a premier cycling spot.

One of the big grabs for Lake Tahoe has been in partnering with the Amgen Tour of California. Agencies like the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority have had a hand in getting such a race to the region — having partnered with Amgen in previous years for stages of both the men's and women's race. Amgen is a health and biotechnology firm based out of Thousand Oaks, California. This year marks three consecutive years that Lake Tahoe has hosted stages of the women's race. Tahoe has also hosted the men's race twice in previous years.

The Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women's Race empowered with SRAM is what will be rolling through town this Thursday and Friday.

"Part of sending the message to our markets that we are a premiere cycling destination is through hosting an event like this," said Carol Chaplin, president of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. "It's a powerful testimony as to what somebody could potentially experience if they came here. People like to go where they feel they have some kind of credibility for that particular activity."

It wasn't always a smooth ride with hosting Amgen races, though. In 2010, Lake Tahoe was slated to host portions of the Amgen men's race, but a snow storm occurred just as things were about to get underway — ultimately leading to the cancellation and relocation of the event. That didn't seem to deter Amgen and tour organizers from wanting to have future races around the basin.

"We established a pretty good working relationship with the tour then,"said Chaplin. "A couple years later, they came back and presented us with the opportunity to host the women's race. … We did that in 2015 and 2016 and now in 2017."

Chaplin explained that Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which presents the Amgen race and other events, wanted to elevate women's cycling and bring more awareness to the sport ­ — feeling like Lake Tahoe was a great fit.

Aside from promoting women's cycling, there's also the economic impact that comes into play. But according to Chaplin, the economic side of things isn't really the motivation for brining in something like the Amgen races.

"We don't really look at the economic impact as much as we look at what the media value is," said Chaplin. "We feel that, for us, as the destination marketing organization, the value that the media brings to the destination of the event is something we couldn't pay money for. We couldn't get the international exposure that the tour affords us."

That doesn't mean there isn't an up-tick in commerce around race times. According to Amgen, the men's race has generated millions of dollars in revenue for some of the cities that have been host to the event.

Chaplin said that LTVA does have contracts with local businesses and service providers for the event, and the support is always overwhelming. Everyone from lodging partners and restaurants to law enforcement and health care providers add to the overall effort for the event.

Overall, Chaplin explained it's mostly seeing the event come to fruition and all of the people flocking to the area that is the real return.

"The tour has really gotten the feeling that this community loves the race," she said. "They've always received a really warm welcome from everyone so we expect the same this year. … It's really fun to watch it all come together the day of."

For more information on Amgen events, visit amgentourofcalifornia.com.