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Auburn's feeling Amgen

It's countdown to cycling's spectacular

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Cyclists will zoom past Downtown Auburn’s central square five times in the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, generating between $1 million and $3 million in revenue for the city, according to Mayor Bill Kirby. Cycling enthusiasts and city officials gathered Wednesday for a celebration of the Stage 3 route announcement. Stage 3, scheduled to start May 17, will showcase Auburn internationally. “We are very fortunate. We asked for the world and they gave it to us,” said Auburn Police Captain John Ruffcorn. “This is our chance to show what a special city Auburn is.” It’s rich history and proximity to the Sierra and American River, making it an outdoor enthusiasts’ mecca, are just a few of the things that make Auburn worth showing off, according to Ruffcorn. He also expects all of the hotels in Auburn to be booked and for businesses to experience a surge, as tourists come to catch a glimpse of world-class cyclists. Streets on the route will be closed 10 minutes before the start of the tour, according to Ruffcorn. The city has worked out logistics regarding parking and accommodating so many people. Information for visitors will be posted soon on bikeauburn.com. Members of the Sierra Foothills Cycling Club plan on volunteering at the event. They went on a casual ride from the tour’s launch point prior to the announcement celebration. Club president Larry Matz said that the Amgen tour has generated more cycling interest in the community. “We had 120 people at our first anniversary party last week,” Matz said. “We are all excited to have an event of this caliber in Auburn.” Turn-by-turn maps of the route detailed that the action will begin at central square — at the intersection of High Street and Lincoln Way downtown — looping around Lincoln Way to Sacramento Street and Elm Avenue. The cyclists will make their way out of Auburn to Folsom by way of Auburn-Folsom Road. Cycling club member Jay Moore said he knows where he will be watching the race to get the best view of potential riders like Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer. “The Sacramento Street part is steep, so they will be slowing down, instead of whizzing past,” Moore said. Brandee Ambrosia of Newcastle also went to the celebration with her family to show her support. “It looks like it’s going to be very cool, Ambrosia said. “We will probably watch from right here (Downtown Auburn’s central square).” Kirby said that Auburn’s outstanding volunteerism and job as a pass-through city last year, along with the hard work of city officials like Ruffcorn and Chief of Police Valerie Harris, persuaded the committee to elevate Auburn to a host city. He also asked businesses to partner with the city as sponsors. “It will make people say, ‘Hey, I want to go ride my bike there. I want to cycle there.’” Kirby said. “The City Council is very happy to support the event and we encourage everyone in the business community to pick up a sponsorship.” According to Ruffcorn, support will go toward the massive costs associated with being a host city. These include providing hospitality for race officials, such as hotel rooms and catering, logistical staff and marketing. Aaron Kopp, whose family owns Uptown Signs, located a block from central square, said he plans to walk down to join thousands of other spectators. “It’s cool to just be able to show up, not pay anything and experience this kind of event,” Kopp said. Jim Northey who is on the Amgen Committee and is the cancer chair said many people are surprised to find out that Amgen manufactures drugs to treat cancer. Breakaway from Cancer, which he heads, sets up VIP tents at the start and finishes of each stage for cancer patients and survivors to get the best views of the race. “They get treated exceptionally well and (are) spoiled,” Northey said. “I think it’s the most important part of the race.” Although not everyone in the community may be interested in cycling, Ruffcorn said the Amgen Tour is hopefully something everyone in Auburn can enjoy in some way. “It is a community event and a chance for people to see professional sports in Auburn,” Ruffcorn said. “It is our opportunity to showcase Auburn and hopefully draw people here beyond May 17.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com