Star or stood up? Auburn poised for Amgen Tour of California bike-race answer

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A year ago, Auburn was already a month into planning for its role as an Amgen Tour of California bike race stop in May. This year, the Auburn organizing team is still waiting for an answer and wondering whether the city is in or out of the nation’s major cycling plans. The Amgen announcement came Oct. 7 last year – making Auburn the start site for Stage 3 on May 17. This year, Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn – chairman of local organizing committee for last May’s Amgen tour start – said the city has submitted its proposal to be on the route again but has not heard back. “I heard they were thinking late October, then early November (for an announcement), but there has been nothing official,” Ruffcorn said. “We’re hopeful. But if we don’t get it this year, we know it’s not from anything we didn’t do in May. We put on a great event and Amgen officials thought so too.” Cycling’s leading U.S. endurance test and the self-appointed Endurance Capital of the World have been a perfect match the past two years. In May 2010, Amgen – including cycling superstar Lance Armstrong – passed through Auburn on a Nevada City-Sacramento leg. This past May, Auburn was one of seven communities to play host to a start. The city sent off its proposal in August to play host to a start again. Mayor Bill Kirby said that Amgen doesn’t normally have a presence in a city three years in a row. “But if any city has earned it, Auburn has,” Kirby said. “I think Auburn’s chances are great. We’ve done a phenomenal job the last two years.” Bruce Cosgrove, CEO of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, said that Amgen organizers may have hit a roadblock in scheduling last month when rangers denied their application to race through Yosemite National Park. That glitch might have delayed a route announcement and increased Auburn’s chances of hosting a stage start, he said. So would including a Tahoe leg in the ride because that would put the event in the vicinity of Auburn, he said. “Three years in a row is probably a long shot but I’m hopeful lightning will strike a third time,” Cosgrove said. Ruffcorn said the later announcement time would not have an impact on Auburn's ability to again organize a start in the city. "All we have to do is mirror the efforts we've already had on two successful events," he said.