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Tour of California racers blast out of SCV

Posted: May 15, 2013 5:00 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2013 5:00 p.m.

Cyclist Andy Schleck, left, meets former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds at the Stage 4 start line of the Amgen Tour of California on Town Center Drive in Valencia on Wednesday. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

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After a night’s rest in the Santa Clarita Valley, cyclists competing in the annual Amgen Tour of California left town en mass Wednesday to completed the first half of the eight-day race in Santa Barbara.

Hundreds gathered outside the Souplantation restaurant at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall to watch their cycling heroes depart at 12:35 p.m.

For local cyclists, the race is akin to the Tour de France visiting Santa Clarita Valley.

Thomas Barron, member of the local cycling club Santa Clarita Velo, showed up for the start of Stage 4 dressed in cycling attire and straddling the same type of bike seen leaving with the Amgen pack embarking on Stage 4.

“We, actually, as a club went to two of the King of the Mountain events yesterday,” Barron said, referring to two specific climbs along the Stage 3 race route around Lake Hughes and Bouquet Canyon.

“We got to see how they were suffering on our typical roads which for them was no big deal,” he said.

Asked if he was tempted to just join the departing Amgen pack on their journey to Santa Barbara, Barron said “yes.”

“Yesterday, on the first King of the Mountain stretch down San Francisquito (Canyon Road), we were chasing the pack,” he said.

“As a group we were really stoked to see them come to Santa Clarita again.”

Barron gave city leaders kudos for hosting the event.

Tour of California competitors arrived in the Santa Clarita Valley from Palmdale on Tuesday. Stage 5 takes off from Santa Barbara on Thursday, with more stages departing from San Jose, Livermore and San Francisco before the race finishes in Santa Rosa on Sunday.

The Amgen Tour of California includes top Tour de France competitors, world champions and Olympic medalists.
Organizers claim their event boosts the local economy places along their route.

Each year, they bring more than $100 million to the cities hosting the event, according to the race statistics supplied by organizers.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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