Amgen Tour of California will include Auburn, Foresthill Bridge

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn and the Foresthill Bridge have made it onto the Amgen Tour of California map. Tour organizer AEG Sports revealed route details of the epic bike race’s May 16 first stage between Nevada City and Sacramento today. While Colfax and Foresthill didn’t make the cut, Auburn, Meadow Vista, Cool, the American River canyon and the Foresthill Bridge figure prominently in race plans. And countering early reports from a local cycling expert, organizers have mapped out a route that will travel through Old Town Auburn. Riders will pass eye-catching landmarks like the giant, topless Native American women sculptures on Auburn Ravine Road, make their way through the new streetscape, pass several Downtown Auburn businesses along Lincoln Way, and pedal through Old Town and by the Placer County Courthouse. Bill Marengo, owner of Bicycle Emporium in Auburn, was one of several cycling experts who helped AEG with the route “I’m ecstatic for Auburn,” Marengo said. “The area has a chance to promote itself internationally and give people a chance to see the beauty we’ve ridden in for years.” The race will pass by Downtown Auburn businesses like Roper’s Jewelers. Harvey Roper said he’s excited and realizes that plans for the event need the area’s cooperation. “The challenge will be how to best represent the community and who them how special Auburn is,” Roper said. Marengo said the Amgen organizers were looking for a scenic and safe course that would keep costs in line. That meant choices like the scenic Foresthill Bridge and safe routes along some back roads. But it also meant limiting major-road closures because of costs and a decision that will send Amgen riders onto some little-used Auburn side roads. The map of the route shows Tour of California cyclists entering Placer County along Dog Bar Road and then moving onto Meadow Vista's Placer Hills Road. A video produced by AEG for the announcement states the Meadow Vista portion will be a sprint. The route then follows Lake Arthur Road, Bowman Road and Auburn Ravine Road to Elm Avenue, where cyclists will cross over and turn down little-used Shirley Street and onto Garfield Street. They’ll travel underneath Interstate 80 via an underpass. Emerging from the underpass, riders will cycle down Pine Street to Lincoln Way. The pack will make a turn toward Old Town along Lincoln Way and swing left at Sacramento Street before traveling back to the Downtown along High Street and Lincoln Way. From there, it's on to the Foresthill Bridge via Lincoln Way. Chris Jones, a cyclist from Auburn who participated in last year's Amgen Tour of California, announced in the video what had been widely rumored since the fall - that the 730-foot-high Foresthill Bridge will be part of the first stage. It's the highest bridge in California. The Amgen Web site states the route through the city of Auburn includes a ride through Old Town Auburn but Marengo said the mapping directs the race the other way, traveling east to cross the Foresthill Bridge. Riders will descend into the American River canyon along Old Foresthill Road. After crossing two bridges at the American River Confluence, cyclists will test their lung capacity early in the tour with a 1,500-foot ascent along winding Highway 49 to Cool. From there, they'll continue through Cool and Pilot Hill before turning right onto Salmon Falls Road. After a portion of the route that includes Grant Line Road, Highway 16 and Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento County, the first stage will finish in front of the north steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento. Distance for the first leg is 104.2 miles. The riders will continue on routes throughout the state for seven more days.