Feb 11, 2011 1:50 AM by Nancy Chen

World-famous Amgen Tour to hit the Central Coast

After skipping the Central Coast last year, the Amgen Tour of California is again putting local cities in the spotlight, starting with Paso Robles.

The eight-day tour is considered the second biggest race in the world, only behind the Tour de France.

The road race will cover more than 800 miles in 8 days, beginning on May 15th.

Local business owners and leaders celebrated the news tonight at the Silver Horse Winery in San Miguel.

Race organizers say beautiful vineyards like the ones around there are exactly what will make Stage Five of the Amgen Tour so rewarding.

The course will start in South Lake Tahoe and end in Thousand Oaks, and the path from Seaside to Paso Robles is the longest leg of the race on its fifth day.

From there, the world-famous cyclists will roll past some vineyards and wineries before finishing in Downtown City Park in Paso Robles.

That's the same finish that was used the last time the Amgen Tour came through here in 2009, when 20,000 people showed up to cheer on cyclists.

This will all be happening during the Paso Robles Wine Festival, and the winner of this stage will be getting a nine-liter bottle of wine from Silver Horse Winery.

People from more than 60 countries will be watching.

"You cannot buy this type of marketing," said Lisa Solomon, the chair of the local organizing committee and the Paso Robles Police Chief. "I mean, the amount of dollars you would have to spend to get this worldwide coverage would be unachievable, so it'd be pretty spectacular."

If you want to get involved with the tour, it needs about 500 volunteers for the portion of the race through the Central Coast; sign ups start in March through the website for the City of Paso Robles.

Meantime in Solvang, world-class cycling will meet old world charm.

Organizers in the city revealed the route for Stage 6 of the tour.

Cyclists will compete in the individual time trials in the Danish village on May 20th.

The route is similar to previous years with one small twist--cyclists will wind their way through towns, vineyards and farms.

When they come in to Los Olivos, an "S" turn has been added, and there's a short, steep climb up Ballard Canyon.

On this scenic and twisting route, the start and finish lines are located only a block apart.

This will be the fourth time Solvang hosts the tour.

Sixteen to eighteen teams will race through Solvang.

The teams will be announced in March.

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