Amgen releases official route map; Tour of California runs through downtown Grass Valley |

Amgen releases official route map; Tour of California runs through downtown Grass Valley

The wish of many a Grass Valley business owner has come true.

The first stage of the star-studded Amgen Tour of California will cycle right through town on its way from the Nevada City starting line to Sacramento.

And just as local race organizers recommended, the likes of Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer will roll down scenic Ridge Road on the way over.

“Everything has landed in place,” said Duane Strawser, local liaison for the May 16 race and organizer of the Nevada City Bicycle Classic.

Amgen officials had carefully guarded the specifics of the route until today, when they released videos showcasing host cities at their official Web site, on Amgen’s Facebook page and on YouTube. Two videos, highlighting the first and second legs of the eight-day race, go live at 9 a.m. today online at

After doing at least one lap in Nevada City along the Classic’s route, riders will take Zion Street to Ridge Road, then to Alta, West Main, Mill and Neal streets en route to Highway 174.

The course then runs onto Rattlesnake and Rambling roads before taking Dog Bar Road to Placer Hills Road.

Riders will pass through Meadow Vista and Auburn before reaching Sacramento, 104.2 miles and about four hours later.

While the fast-moving peloton will spend less than an hour of actual race time in Nevada County, the benefits could be lasting – the star power of big-name cyclists is expected to attract thousands of visitors and worldwide media attention to the area.

“This is an event that’s seen throughout the whole world,” said Grass Valley Mayor Lisa Swarthout. “You can’t buy that kind of publicity.”

Local businesses want to make the area attractive enough for a second look.

“We want to give reasons for them to come back when they come to town,” said Grass Valley Downtown Association Executive Director Howard Levine. “We’re trying to plan some special things and have ambassadors on the streets.”

Local organizers from Sacramento and Nevada City worked together to produce the video of the first leg. A rough cut of the three-minute online video featured biker’s-eye views of the foothills, shots of Grass Valley and downtown Nevada City – including footage from last year’s Classic – and a narrative highlighting Nevada County’s mining past.

Nevada City unveiled the video to a small crowd at City Hall this morning.

Plenty of work remains. Strawser said local organizers are working on logistics about street closures, parking and police presence.

He was grateful Amgen granted at least one lap through downtown Nevada City, especially since riders will take the Nevada City Classic route in reverse. The uphill climb on Broad Street will slow the pace enough that spectators get a good look at the riders.

“They’ll get a close-up,” Strawser said. “It allows for an intimate interaction.”

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail or call (530) 477-4247.

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