Ventura in the spotlight during the 2018 Amgen Tour of California
Cyclists wind their way through Ventura County during a previous Amgen Tour of California.
Venturans had 20 seconds to make it count in 2016, the year the Amgen Tour of California raced through the city.
They made it count.
On Monday, the race will return to the beachfront city, but in a bigger role. As racers adjust their bikes, warm their muscles and get their coach’s pep talks for the day’s ride, they’ll do it with a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, the historic wooden Ventura Pier and the waterfront promenade.
Oh, and the world will be watching.
Stage 2 of coastal California’s biggest cycling race is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. from the pier. From there, the cyclists will travel 96.3 miles, through downtown and back again before heading through Oxnard, Camarillo, Santa Paula and Ojai and unincorporated communities in between. They’ll end the day on Gibraltar Road high in the hills of Santa Barbara County.
“This is an opportunity of showcasing Ventura to an international audience,” said Marlyss Auster, president and CEO of the Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau. “Ventura’s gone through so much in the past five months, this is a way of showing we’re unified and together and support some really incredible athletes as they cruise through town.”
As Amgen Tour racers fly through downtown Ojai, racing fans line the streets.
CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR
The seven-day race starts Sunday in Long Beach and continues north for more than 600 miles before it ends in Sacramento on May 19.
As part of being a host city, the tour guaranteed 650 rooms for lodging facilities. The city is also getting a 30-second commercial on national television and a 30-second feature broadcast on the day of the race.
“We’re already a bike-friendly city, so enhancing that by having an internationally viewed start reinforces that image that we’ve been trying to develop over the past several years,” said city Community Development Director Jeff Lambert.
The race, which will pass by Mission San Buenaventura, City Hall, along California Street and the waterfront, is a great way to highlight things the city is proud of, he said.
Here are some basics about getting the most out of the event and avoiding its side effects, which include several road and highway exit ramp closures.
Amgen Tour of California viewing parties
The Ventura Pier: The iconic wooden pier not only offers breakfast burritos on-site, but also features expansive views of the coast and the Channel Islands and what may be the biggest viewing party. The party will start around 9 a.m., leaving you plenty of time to get to know all the riders, what the race is and find a blue cowbell that will be available for free.
Plaza Park: Between Thompson Boulevard and Santa Clara Street and near the post office is the site of another viewing party. This one will feature giant parachutes in a bike formation. There’s also a playground for before and after playing, and an amphitheater and grassy spaces if you want to picnic or lounge.
But you wanted mariachis, you say? Then head on over to …
Mission Park: At Mission Park, across from the mission, there will be mariachis and ballet folklorico dancers to cheer on the racers. While you’re there, check out the historic mission, stroll downtown or wander over to the promenade.
And don’t miss the historic mural that was officially unveiled earlier this month. It’s not quite done, so they’re keeping it under wraps for a few more weeks except for on race day, when it will be uncovered for all to see. The mural, by artist Michael O’Kelly, takes you through a tile journey of the 150 years since Ventura became an official city.
CONTRIBUTED MAPS/Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau
Of course, Ventura isn’t the only place to see the race. Once it leaves the city via Harbor Boulevard, it will head through most of the west county before making its way north to Santa Barbara. See the full route at https://bit.ly/2KffpZI.
According to the state Department of Transportation, the following roads and exit ramps will be slow going or closed:
- The Highway 101 exits of Seaward Avenue and California Street exit ramps will be closed from 11:15-11:45 a.m. in both directions.
- From noon to 12:30 p.m., Highway 101 will close at Lewis Road in both directions.
- Between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., motorists should expect delays at Lewis Road and Fifth Street in Camarillo.
- Between noon and 1 p.m., expect delays near Somis as cyclists travel on State Route 34 and head east on State Route 118.
- Expect delays from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in and around Santa Paula and Ojai as the pack makes it way to the Santa Barbara-Ventura County line along Highway 150.
YAZMIN CRUZ/VC Star
Times are approximate and subject to change, so visit quickmap.dot.ca.gov for live updates. The California Transportation Department recommends taking alternate routes.
But what is it?
The Amgen Tour of California bills itself as a Tour de France style race, and it attracts some of the top cyclists and teams.
“The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and world champions, and award important, world-ranking points to the top finishers,” the event’s website notes.
There are 11 host cities and the race is being broadcast in more than 200 countries. The men’s race is 645 miles and the women ride for 187 miles. The women’s race starts May 17 in Elk Grove and also ends May 19 in Sacramento.
Go to amgentourofcalifornia.com or visitventuraca.com/amgen for more information on the race.
SOURCE: Amgen Tour of California
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