After a two-year absence, Sacramento is a strong candidate to return as a host city and potentially as the overall starting location for the 2014 Amgen Tour of California.
Repeated calls to the Sacramento Sports Commission and Sacramento Visitors and Convention Bureau officials regarding the city’s plans for the race have no been returned.
Rumors Sacramento would be returning to the event for its ninth edition, scheduled next May 11-18, were prevalent in August at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.
Medalist Sports operates both events, with the three-year-old Colorado event now at least as prominent as the Tour of California.
“I was contacted by Sacramento about six weeks or maybe two months,” Jim Birrell, Managing Partner of Medalist Sports, said on the final day of the USA Pro Challenge in Denver. “I know AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) has presented a proposal to them.”
Anschutz Entertainment Group owns the Tour of California. It also owns numerous other sport and entertainment properties, including the STAPLES Center and The Home Depot Center as well the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League.
Amgen, the Southern California pharmaceutical company, has been the race’s title sponsor since it debuted in 2006. Amgen renewed its contract with the race in September.
Sacramento has been part of the Tour of California five times, including most recently in 2011 as the stage 1 finishing city. Sacramento staged the overall start in 2009, with the race marking the North American return to the sport of now disgraced Lance Armstrong.
“Sacramento is an important market for us,” said Birrell. “It’s important for the race. It’s the capital of the state. The fans have enjoyed the venues there. So, yes, I think there’s a good chance of going back to Sacramento next year.”
The eight edition of the race marked the first time the event had a South-to-North route. The race began in Escondido and ended in Santa Rosa on the final of three days in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The route announcement for this year’s race was delayed because many cities were financially able to commit. The same scenario has occurred for 2014. Santa Rosa, Auburn, Livermore, Escondido and Carlsbad all have opted to not participate in the 2014 event.
Jason McCartney (Bissell) is the only rider to compete all of the race’s eight editions. Garmin-Sharp, the Colorado-based team, is the only squad to compete eight times. And San Jose is the only to host a stage start or finish every year.
Bob Bowen, Public Relations Manager for the City of Davis, which hosted a stage start in 2009 and 2010 and was a pass-through city in 2007 and 2008, said Davis has again submitted its interest in the event for 2014.
“As usual, the City of Davis submitted a proposal to host a stage start for the 2014 Amgen Tour of California,” Bowen said via e-mail. “We also said that we would be happy to act as a ‘pass-through’ city.
“I have no idea what our chances are for 2014. I’m sure that they (AEG) have an idea of what their 2014 route will be, but I have no clue if they would like to come through Davis again.”
Modesto and Turlock have also presented proposals for the 2014 event.
The 2014 Tour of California will also occur as professional cycling faces another difficult financial time. Numerous veteran riders, unable to secure contracts, have retired. Several title sponsors for the sport’s highest caliber international teams and U.S.-based squads have left the sport.
Chris Horner, who claimed the recent Tour of Spain and won the Tour of California in 2011, remains without a contract for 2014.
The official announcement of the 2014 Tour of California is expected within the new few weeks. Participating teams won’t be announced until next year.
Tejay van Garderen, who rides for the Santa Rosa-registered BMC team, won the 2013 Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge.