Amgen Tour of California returns to Lake Tahoe May 11 and 12 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Amgen Tour of California returns to Lake Tahoe May 11 and 12

The Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered with SRAM will be coming to South Lake Tahoe Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12. The free event will have several viewing options as well as food and activities.

Thousands of people will soon flood the streets around Lake Tahoe to watch and cheer on some of the world's elite female cyclists. For the second year in a row, Lake Tahoe will be home to stages of the Amgen Tour of California — further adding to the region's growing reputation as a major player in the cycling industry.

Amgen has the event divided into two races: "The Amgen Tour of California" men's race and the "Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women's Race empowered with SRAM." The women's race will take place May 11 through 14 and the men's race will take place May 14 through 20. The men's race will not feature any local stages.

"Since its inception in 2006, the Amgen Tour of California has become one of the most important races on the international cycling calendar, showcasing the most accomplished cyclists from around the world," Amgen stated in a press release. "In addition, the event provides cyclists the opportunity to preview prospective competition leading to summer's Tour de France."

The women's race will have four stages total, with the first two taking place locally. Beginning Thursday, May 11, stage 1 circles Lake Tahoe and the second stage, May 12, makes a loop below the lake. Stages 3 and 4, occurring May 13 and 14, will include runs through Elk Grove, before concluding in Sacramento. The women's race will include 16 teams, foreign and domestic, with 120 athletes.

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority helped bring the event to the region and has been working with Amgen races in some capacity for the past seven years.

"Our relationship with the tour began in 2010 when we worked with North Shore on the men's overall start, stage 1 finish and stage 2 start," said LTVA President and CEO Carol Chaplin. "We've now hosted the women's stage 1 and stage 2 races in 2015 and 2016."

The two stages will both begin and end at the Heavenly California Base —with morning and afternoon portions. Covering 72.7 miles and beginning at 10:40 a.m., stage 1 will have stints on Keller Road, Pioneer Trail, Al Tahoe Boulevard, U.S. 50 and Emerald Bay Road. The afternoon leg of the race will see activity on U.S. 50, Stateline Avenue, Pioneer Trail, Ski Run Boulevard, Needle Peak Road and Wildwood Avenue, respectively.

At 67.1 miles, stage 2 will begin at 10:25 a.m. Although stage 2 stays mostly south of Lake Tahoe, it will involve the following routes: Keller Road, Pioneer Trail, Mandan Street, Upper Apache Avenue, Cheyenne Drive, Cornelian Drive and California Route 89, respectively. Stages 1 and 2 should conclude at approximately 2 p.m.

One of the motivations Amgen had in continuing its relationship with the region is the unique terrain that makes Lake Tahoe an ideal place for an exhaustive race.

"Along with providing the iconic alpine routes reminiscent of the Tour de France, we've built a solid relationship with the organizers in regards to execution of all required elements," said Chaplin. "Additionally, our community, which is passionate about cycling, has always extended a warm welcome to everyone associated with the event from athletes to sponsors to organizers."

On the days of the race, Amgen will hold a "lifestyle festival" near the starting line at the Heavenly California Base. The free event will include various sponsors, organizations and vendors — as well as food, education and activities for all ages. Event coordinators say the men's and women's tours bring a lot of commerce and attention to California's burgeoning cycling industry and allows for Lake Tahoe to further display its cycling chops as well.

"We think being associated with the premier cycling race in the U.S. continues to elevate Lake Tahoe's status as a cycling destination," added Chaplin. "With significant reach both domestically and internationally, Lake Tahoe is seen around the world. You really can't buy advertising like the Amgen Tour of California affords."

There will be upcoming information on the best places and times to observe the race, as well as road closures, delays and detours.