City Preparing for ‘Ginormous’ Event

The Amgen Tour of California, the largest professional cycling race in the U.S., will return to San Luis Obispo County in May and the City of Morro Bay plans to make a whole festival out of its role in the race.

Amgen 2016 started one of its seven stages in Morro Bay, with the City hosting the cycling teams, sponsors, the international media and fans at Morro Rock. The riders paraded up the Embarcadero and through downtown and down North Main Street to Yerba Buena where they entered the highway for the more than 130-mile trek to Monterey.

In 2017, Morro Bay hosted the finish of Stage 3 of the race which started in Pismo Beach and wended its way through Guadalupe, Orcutt, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo, finishing in Morro Bay after some 115 total miles.

In both of those races, cycling superstar Peter Sagan won each stage.

In 2018, with CA 1 closed north of Ragged Point by the massive Mud Creek Landslide, Amgen skipped over SLO County entirely.

But in 2019, the 14th Annual Amgen Tour, set for May 12-18, returns with Morro Bay hosting the finish to Stage 4 on May 15 (Monterey to Morro Bay); and Pismo Beach slated to host the start of Stage 5 on the 16th at the Pismo Pier (Pismo to Ventura).

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Morro Bay plans to turn the event into an all-day festival, complete with two fun rides, a vendor fair and a meet-and-greet with cycling legend Bob Roll and some of the current tour stars.

Samantha Pruitt, founder and CEO of RACESLO, a sporting event production company, was hired to organize and coordinate the tour stop in Morro Bay and she’s been busy expanding the event.

Pruitt explained that on May 15, they will host two fun rides — one of five miles for families and riders of all levels; and a 12-mile ride for more advanced riders — from 1-2 p.m. Both fun rides will start and end at the official Amgen finish line on Harbor Street.

“The idea,” she said, “is to get the local community out on their bikes.”

The events are fundraisers for two local nonprofits — Bike SLO County and the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club. Pruitt said both groups are cycling advocates and have educational programs for children.

Anyone wanting to sign up for the fun rides should visit morrobay.org

Vendors interested in the fair don’t have to sell cycling-related gear, Pruitt said. The vendor fair will showcase “the best that Morro Bay has to offer,” she said, urging local businesses to get involved. “The more well-rounded we make it, the better for us; so it’s not just a narrow audience, not just for cyclists.”

And after the race, at 6 p.m., fans can attend a special meet-and-greet at The Siren, located at Main and Harbor Streets, featuring Bob “Bobke” Roll, a former pro cyclist, author and TV sportscaster, along with some of the current pros.

Roll was a pro cyclist with the 7-Eleven Cycling Team for many years, switching to the Motorola Cycling Team in 1991 and then joining cycling legend Greg Lemond’s Z Team in 1992 when he also started racing mountain bikes. He competed in mountain bike racing until 1998 and is now an internationally recognized cycling sportscaster and TV celebrity.

The meet and greet at The Siren is free but you must sign up beforehand on the City’s Facebook Page.

Pruitt said they are seeking volunteer course marshals for the two fun rides. Email amgenvolunteer@morrobayca.gov if interested.

And the Tour needs about 150 volunteers course marshals as well. See: amgentourofcalifornia.com/volunteer and fill out an application to volunteer.

“It’s going to be ginormous,” Pruitt said.

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