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City getting ready to host Amgen stage-start

Upwards of 20,000 people could flock to Auburn
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn buzzed with excitement Thursday after learning it would be a host city for the 2011 Amgen Tour of California. Auburn will be the start city for Stage 3 of the race, which runs to Modesto and takes place Tuesday, May 17. In 2010 Auburn was a pass-through city for the event, and 15,000 spectators and 200 volunteers turned out to cheer on cyclists as they passed through. Thursday afternoon the city of Auburn and Chamber of Commerce held a celebration barbecue in Central Square to announce the decision and offer community members a chance to see the application video sent to race officials on a JumboTron screen. Members of the Sierra Foothills Cycling Club went on a 15-mile announcement ride, which began at Central Square. Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn said now that the city is officially hosting a stage-start, the work of making sure everyone has the most enjoyable time possible starts. “We have already made our proposal,” Ruffcorn said. “So, now we need to come together as the city with our residents as well as our business community to prepare for possibly 10,000 to 20,000 people entering our city.” Mayor Bridget Powers, who, dressed in a cycling outfit, made the announcement about the decision during the celebration, said she has already received several excited and congratulatory calls. Powers said she thinks being a stage-start will be a very positive thing for Auburn. “To have a start city means that there are going to be thousands of people who will most likely spend the night, eat in our restaurants, shop in our shops and watch the event,” Powers said. “It will just put our city on the map.” To apply to be a stage-start, the city created a video through collaboration with the Auburn Bike Team 2010, Auburn Chamber of Commerce and AboutHere.TV, which shot extensive footage of Auburn prior to the 2010 race and during the race. The video and a written application were mailed in August, and race organizers announced Thursday morning that Auburn was on its list of 15 host cities in the state. The cost of editing the video was $1,000, which the city reimbursed, and there was no cost to apply for a stage-start, said Bruce Cosgrove, chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce. Ruffcorn said its not apparent yet what the exact cost of being a host city would be, but the Auburn Bike Team 2011 will be looking for sponsorships and donations for race day and events leading up to it. “We want to host a wonderful world-class event, but everyone realizes we are in a tough economy,” he said. “We want to control the costs without minimizing the event.” Costs could include paying for things like promotional events, banners, extra trashcans and other necessities in the city Ruffcorn said. The stage-start cost could be $75,000, Cosgrove said in an Aug. 15 Journal report. Cosgrove said the Auburn Bike Team 2011 has several ideas for making the city stand out from other stage-starts including special get-togethers, like a gala, local bike rides that could run part of the Stage 3 route and a commitment to video coverage leading up to and including race day. “We are just doing what we do Auburn style,” Cosgrove said. “One thing that is going to set us apart is while we are promoting that the Amgen Tour of California is here, we are (also) promoting that we are the Endurance Capital of the World.” Events and services are some things that could be paid for by sponsorships or donated by the community, Cosgrove said. Cosgrove said he thinks Auburn has plenty of parking and hotel space for those who will be flowing into the city. At large events people don’t expect to park up close to the action and won’t mind parking a little farther away, but a shuttle service to bring attendees closer to the route is definitely a possibility, Cosgrove said. Ruffcorn said police would be working to ensure the safety of those who come into the city as well as their possessions. “We need to make sure our staffing is adequate the whole time … because more than likely it’s going to be a 24-hour ramp-up process,” he said. Cosgrove said he hopes about 400 volunteers will help put the event together, and he has already received calls from people saying they are on board. Volunteers could help with things like food service, giving directions, setup and tear down and public relations. “There is going to be a lot of need … for volunteers to help with staging, and lighting and sound,” Cosgrove said. Police Chief Valerie Harris said she thinks this race day will only build upon the pride Auburn has from the previous race. “I’m excited,” Harris said. “This is a world-renowned cycling competition that will help Auburn become more of a cycling destination. There is an intensity and excitement in the air in the Auburn community today. We saw the community come together in May, and we will see that effort grow dramatically with this coming event.” Auburn resident Dave Glover, a member of the Sierra Foothills Cycling Club, who attended Thursday’s rally, said he participated in the 2010 race as a volunteer. “It was a great opportunity,” Glover said. “It was just spectacular. I love that we are going to (have), as a start city, the opportunity to see teams up close and personal.” Glover said he heard about the decision Thursday morning in an e-mail from Amgen. “I was thrilled, and it was just great,” he said. Meadow Vista resident Nancy Parker said she and her husband, Lee, watched the 2010 race from a spot in Auburn. “We got to see the riders up very close … it was just spectacular,” Nancy Parker said. “I’m absolutely thrilled (about the stage-start). This city has so much to offer, and it’s wonderful to be able to share this city with bikers and others who come to visit.” Lee Parker said Auburn being chosen as one of 15 cities out of 50 who applied for a stage-start really speaks to how much the city impressed race organizers. “The people running the show must really think a lot of Auburn,” Lee Parker said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com