Amgen brings thrill of racing, influx of capital to Modesto

Amgen cyclists race by the McHenry Mansion in Modesto on their way to the finish line.

Business Journal Editor

The rush of adrenaline. The heart-pounding speeds. The woosh as cyclists zip by. The ka-ching of cash registers.

It’s time again for the Amgen Tour of California, the popular bicycle race that pits the best of the best against each other and the road. Modesto has been selected as the stage two starting point on May 15, and local businesses are going to benefit from increased patronage.

Event coordinators estimate that the race will generate more than $100 million in direct and indirect economic benefits to the participating areas throughout California.

“Of course, it will be hotels and restaurants,” said Amy Vickery, public information officer for City of Modesto, referring to the main businesses that will see a benefit from the influx of racing teams and tourists. “But it will also be the movie theaters, the gas stations and those kinds of ancillary things when you stop to visit a city.”

“The impact of this race continues to grow year after year,” Michael Roth, Vice President of Communications for AEG, said.

AEG is the sporting event company that presents Amgen. “It attracts millions of spectators each year in person, with millions more viewing around the world.” Not to mention the thousands of people who travel throughout the state as part of the race entourage, he said.

Planning for this year’s start has been more of a challenge than in years past, Vickery said. When Modesto was selected previously, it was a finishing point for a stage, which meant it was easier to draw spectators since it took place in the afternoon.

Crowds cheer on Amgen cyclists at a past stage finish in Modesto.

“It will be a different excitement to be a start,” Vickery said.

Modesto was picked due to its location, among other reasons.

“This is the fifth time that Modesto has been a host city,” Roth said. “The beautiful scenery and various options to craft a race that has the potential to be full of challenges and attack options makes Modesto a favorite among both riders and fans.”

The second stage will set off Monday, May 15, from downtown Modesto. The event will begin at 9 a.m. with a Lifestyle Festival adjacent to the starting line on I Street in front of the Gallo Center for the Arts. The festival, which is free to the public, will include giveaways, a classic car show and a bicycle show.

After that, 136 competing cyclists will bolt from the start, circle the downtown area a few times and head off toward Patterson.

Since May is National Bike Month, Modesto plans to keep on celebrating long after Amgen has raced away. Thursday, May 18, is Bike to Work Day. Commuters are invited to leave their cars at home and ride into work. Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold will kick off the bike-friendly day by riding from McHenry Village to downtown.

The following weekend, Downtown Modesto will play host to a cycling-centric festival.

The Family Cycling Festival and Criterium (a fast race through streets of Modesto), Saturday, May 20, will feature free children’s bike helmets, bounce houses, rock climbing, face painting, vendor booths, BMX bike stunt demos, the criterium races and more. The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on I Street, between 10th and 12th streets. The event is free.

On Sunday, May 21, a bike race for professionally registered cyclists will be held on the outskirts of Salida. Those interested in registering for the road race and the previous day’s race can visit for more information.

Downtown Modesto is gearing up to become quite the fitness enthusiast’s destination. The Amgen Tour, along with the annual Modesto Marathon, have brought a lot of attention to the area.

“The Modesto Marathon has been a boon to business downtown on the Sunday that it’s held. Amgen just added downtown Modesto again as a race stage for the first time in several years,” Josh Bridegroom, CEO of the Downtown Modesto Partnership, said. “We think it’s going to be a great image enhancement activity, and we’re hopeful that it will compliment downtown businesses as well.”

Bridegroom’s organization has made strides to keep the fitness flowing with the addition of Bike Modesto, which encourages people to cycle to the area.

“We plan to do more Bike Modesto events in the near future, and we’ve discussed other fitness-related activities for downtown, but haven’t solidified any of them yet,” Bridegroom said.


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