In just its fifth year of existence, the Amgen Tour of California has already established its place as one of the elite cycling events on the globe.
By moving the race to May — historically the time of the much more established Giro d’Italia — race officials have made a confident claim that the Amgen Tour can be the most important preparation race for cycling’s most famous competition — the Tour de France.
“The Tour de France is still the big daddy,” Betsy Baker of the U.S. Cycling Report said. “But the Amgen Tour is staking its claim as the place to be if you want to prepare for the Tour de France.”
In just a half-decade, the event has caught the eyes of the European cycling community, to the extent that many are starting to consider the Amgen Tour as cycling’s fourth Grand Tour, behind the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España and Tour de France, according to Daniel Benson of Cycling News.
Although the Amgen Tour is unlikely to be a major, three-week event like the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia, the event could add to its prestige by increasing from eight to 12 days, Benson said.
“I think it could happen,” said Benson. “The Tour has already made a major improvement by adding a mountain finish to one of its stages, and extending the race by an extra three or four days could really cement its place as one of the best races in the world.”
Santa Rosa’s Levi Leipheimer has owned the local race so far.
5 Years of Amgen Tour of California
2 Cyclists who have won (Levi Leipheimer three times, Floyd Landis)
16 Cities that host a stage
2 million Spectators at last year’s tour
$100 million Estimated economic impact on tour cities