RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

Racers whiz past the Capitol near the finish of Stage 2 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California on May 16. Will there be a repeat in 2012?

Sacramento not assured of role in 2012 Amgen Tour

Published: Friday, Sep. 2, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 9C
Last Modified: Sunday, Sep. 4, 2011 - 2:57 pm

Seeking a spot for the sixth time in the event's seven-year history, Sacramento has applied to host a stage finish of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.

But the capital's involvement is far from assured. Race organizers are considering several route options, including a return to the Bay Area (not included this year) as well as different mountain passes and routes in the Sierra Nevada.

"We've submitted a bid with the hope of getting a stage finish," John McCasey, executive director of the Sacramento Sports Commission, said Thursday. "And we'll just have to wait and see what our chances are. There are no guarantees. We go into it with eyes wide open. What we are up against is a very creative planning organization such as Medalist (Sports)."

The eight-day race, the country's largest professional cycling event, will begin May 13 in Santa Rosa, the home of three-time winner and 2011 runner-up Levi Leipheimer.

Davis, which hosted a stage start in 2009 and 2010 and was a pass-through city in 2007 and 2008, has bid for a 2012 stage start. Auburn, Nevada City, Modesto, San Jose and the South Lake Tahoe region also hope to be part of next year's race.

"Due to the cost, it would be difficult for Davis to serve as a venue for an ATOC stage finish without some financial assistance," Bob Bowen, a city of Davis spokesman, wrote in an email. "We'll see what happens."

More than 100 California cities were mailed applications to submit bids. But race organizers aren't releasing a list of cities that submitted proposals by the mid-August deadline.

Several websites have reported that Solvang, which has hosted a Tour of California time trial four times, did not submit a 2012 hosting bid.

Santa Rosa, which was left off the route last year under a stipulation that it would host the race's launch in 2012, is the only confirmed start or finish city in next year's event.

Jim Birrell – managing partner of Medalist Sports, which runs the Amgen Tour of California – said he expects the announcement of 2012 stage cities later this month or in early October.

The event's teams and individual athletes won't be announced for months. But Chris Horner, a Bend, Ore., resident who beat teammate Leipheimer by 38 seconds in this year's race, is expected to return. Horner is recovering from a concussion and a subsequent blood clot sustained in July during a Tour de France crash.

Leipheimer, who won this year's Tour of Switzerland and Tour of Utah and last week's inaugural USA Cycling Pro Challenge in Colorado, also is expected to return, although he'll likely compete for a team other than RadioShack.

Vladimir Efimkin, a Russian native who lives in Sacramento, also likely will participate. Efimkin recently re-signed with Team Type 1-Sanofi, which has competed in the Tour of California for the past three years.

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