Local News

May 14, 2010 9:40 PM by Ariel Wesler

Businesses impacted by loss of Amgen cycling tour

The 2010 Amgen tour of California kicks off this weekend and unlike in years past, the city of Solvang is not gearing up for the big event.

For the past three years, the largest cycling event in America has called Solvang home. Along with the thousands of fans, came the thousands of dollars they spent in the Danish town, but this year, organizers decided to change the schedule and routes for the individual time trial and the mix of world-class cycling and old-world charm -- is no more.

The Amgen cycling tour of California is just around the corner, but this year, it won't be rolling through Solvang.

"The hotel rooms occupied, the restaurants, the meals, the retail sales, that definitely has a one day impact," said Laura Kath with the Solvang Visitors Bureau.

Last year's event showcased Lance Armstrong and brought 30,000 people, which translates into more than 200 thousand dollars in revenue. Businesses say it's busier than Danish Days.

"Multiply it by five times," said Barbara Meeks, who owns the Bulldog Cafe.

A place where the walls are covered with photos of visiting cyclists.

"It's all about community and it's schmoozing with them and getting to know them. I make breakfast for them," Meeks said.

For the last three years, the tour has been in February, one of the slowest times of the year for the Danish town and while the impact is still significant, this year it's in May when tourism is already in full swing.

Though tourism isn't riding on the event, the Solvang Visitors Bureau says it puts a spotlight on the Danish town, giving it international exposure.

"You have over 250 media outlets from around the world, covering your town," Kath said.

"I get people in here that have never been to Solvang before. I say, 'Where are you from?' L.A., said David Chavis," who owns the only bicycle shop in town.

"Having celebrities come through the store is always cool, being a cyclist," Chavis said.

But Solvang residents shouldn't be too disappointed.

In the cycling world, they don't normally go back to a place three years in a row, so we felt very fortunate," said Max Hanberg, who's part of the local organizing committee for the event.

Solvang's organizing committee says it will absolutely apply to host the tour next year, just in time for the town's 100th birthday.

The Amgen Tour of California starts this Sunday in Nevada City.

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