The leading teams from the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California won’t be known until Sunday, but Sacramento’s economy is already predicted as a winner.
According to the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, Amgen will pump more than $2.7 million into Sacramento’s economy. It’s expected to draw 50,000 spectators on Sunday. The initial stage of the eight-day race on Sunday encompasses a 126.2 mile circuit, which culminates in a sprint that winds through midtown and finishes near the state Capitol.
About 2,600 hotel rooms have been contracted for Amgen, an uptick of 600 rooms compared with 2014. The rooms, occupied by cyclists, mechanics and other team staff related to the race, are contracted at nine Sacramento hotels.
The riders and team staff began arriving in Sacramento on Thursday, though they tend to keep a low profile until it’s time to race. Some competitors kept their legs loose with rides along the American River Bike Trail, but conserved the bulk of their energy for Sunday’s race. To suit their nutritional and caloric needs, with riders burning more than 3,000 calories in a race, some teams included a private chef in their entourage.
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Though most riders won’t be doing much tourist-like dining, many midtown eateries are gearing up for a crush of spectators on Sunday who may want to cheer on riders with a beer or burger in hand. Add to Sunday being Mother’s Day, the busiest day of the year for restaurants, and some midtown restaurants are preparing for a double whammy of traffic. Capital Dime, which is on a popular stretch of L Street for watching the race, already has 80 reservations on the books.
“We’re stoked to be in the middle of it,” said Chris Jarosz, co-owner of Capital Dime. “It will be hard not to be busy. But it’ll be interesting to see how street closures (for the race) will have an effect on the usual Mother’s Day traffic.”
Sacramento-area racing fans had an opportunity to see the cyclists up close Friday evening during what was billed as a free family-friendly block party on the west steps of the state Capitol. Steve Hammond, president and CEO of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the racing teams in past years had been introduced at a private dinner. This year, he told the crowd, “we decided we wanted to do it on the Capitol grounds and open up the introduction of the riders to all of the community.”
The Cottage Elementary School choir opened the ceremonies by singing the national anthem. Teams were then brought on stage for introduction of the individual riders. One rider from each team was interviewed by event hosts.
In between team introductions, a band performed as fans lined up at food booths, or took a turn spinning a wheel to win Amgen Tour tote bags, sunglasses and other race souvenirs.
Stephanie Papas of Sacramento said she and her husband, Steve Carillo, are hobby cyclists who regularly attend the Amgen Tour of California. They’ll be on hand for the start of Sunday’s race in Sacramento, and Monday’s start in Nevada City.
“You can have so much access to the top-in-the-world cyclists,” she said of the Amgen Tour. “In a month we’ll see the same cyclists in the Tour de France, on TV.”
Chris Dawson came to Friday night’s party with his son and daughter, 11-year-old twins Lucas and Cedeira. Dawson said he and Lucas are involved in local bicycle racing. Dawson races with Sacramento’s Rio Strada team and has been among the spectators for all the Amgen Tours of California.
“What is most exciting is to see the pro teams ride on the roads we race and train on all the time,” Chris Dawson said.
Part of Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour is South River Road, a training route for local bicycle teams, he said.