Cycling group says Tahoe a lock for AMGEN, stirs controversy
The Union News Service
LAKE TAHOE – An official announcement isn’t due until later this week, but one Lake Tahoe bicycle advocate is confident one of the nation’s highest profile bicycle races is coming to the region next year.
In the Lake Tahoe Bike Coalition’s September newsletter, President Ty Polastri said the Amgen Tour of California’s first stage is scheduled to start at Lake Tahoe on May 15, 2011. The professional bike race will then circle Lake Tahoe one and a half times and end at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, Polastri added.
But Polastri’s announcement is premature and may ultimately hurt the region’s chances of securing one stage of the eight stage race, according to those who have lobbied to bring the race to the area.
The bike race started in 2005, moves to different cities throughout California each year and would attract thousands of visitors, as well as a global television audience. Race organizers have previously stated they would like California’s more mountainous regions, and possibly Lake Tahoe, to be highlighted in the race.
Carol Chaplin, executive director for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority in South Lake Tahoe, called Polastri’s statements about the race “unfortunate.”
“He’s not the spokesman for the tour,” Chaplin said.
No contract has been signed to bring the bicycle race to Tahoe, and the official announcement should be left to race organizers, Chaplin said.
When asked whether the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority had been informed the region would host the tour in 2011, Chaplin said repeatedly that there has been no announcement.
“We have nothing confirmed,” Chaplin said.
She said the Tour has no obligation to any city and has a breadth of options for host cities. An official announcement of the 2011’s Tour of California’s host cities is scheduled for Thursday, according to the tour’s website, amgentourofcalifornia.com.
A representative from AEG, the sports and entertainment company that organizes the tour, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Polastri declined further comment when reached by phone Tuesday and did not say where he got the information the bicycle race would come to the region. Despite the newsletter announcement, Polastri said the release of details about tour stages should be left to race organizers.
South Lake Tahoe Mayor Kathay Lovell, who has been active in attracting the Tour of California to Lake Tahoe, said AEG protects details of the each year’s tour until the official announcement. She said the area has a really good shot at hosting a stage of the race, but has not been given a formal go ahead.
“If we say anything before Thursday, we run the risk of not getting it,” Lovell said.
Race organizers appeared impressed when touring the area with city officials in August, Lovell added.
Since its inception, the Tour of California has grown into the nation’s most visible professional road race. The bicycle race’s move from February to May in 2010 made a Lake Tahoe stage a legitimate possibility.
Attracting one stage of the race to Tahoe would be “so huge” for the region’s tourism, Lovell said.
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