As the Amgen Tour of California kicks off in Escondido, race organizers say security -- for both cyclists and spectators -- is their top priority. NBC 7's Chris Chan reports.
One of the America’s most recognized, multi-city cycling events hit the pavement Sunday -- and the first stage of the competition began in Escondido.
The 2013 Amgen Tour of California kicks off Sunday with a 103-mile road cycling race around Escondido. This local part of the Amgen Tour – dubbed “Stage 1” – is one of many cycling routes across different California cities.
This year, 16 of the world’s top professional cycling teams will compete in the eight-day event, which includes approximately750 miles of roadways across the Golden State.
In Escondido, Sunday’s part of the tour began at 11:15 a.m. at Grand Avenue and Broadway. The race was expected to finish around 3:30 p.m.
After Escondido, teams will head to Murrieta, followed by greater Palm Springs, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara, Avila Beach, San Jose, Livermore, Mt. Diablo, San Francisco and Santa Rosa, where the eight-day race will finish on May 19. Full a full schedule of the routes and cities, click here.
Over the years, the Amgen Tour of California has drawn millions of spectators around the state. Last year, more than 2 million people cheered on cyclists from the sidelines, according to the tour website.
Organizers say some good spots to watch the race in Escondido on Sunday include, of course, downtown Escondido along Grand Avenue and Broadway where the start and finish take place, Ramona’s Main Street, Dudley’s Bakery along Highway 76 and East Grade Road at the top of Palomar Mountain.
A Lifestyle Festival will also be held throughout race day, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in downtown Escondido featuring entertainment, food, vendors and big-screen race viewing.
Locally, business owners in Escondido are gearing up for Sunday’s race and expecting a big boost in business from the 2013 Amgen Tour crowds.
On Friday, business owners on Grand Avenue told NBC 7 they’re thrilled to welcome cyclists, their families and spectators during Sunday’s event.
Ryan Kernion, general manager of Vinz Wine Bar, said his business stands to make about 70 percent more in profits during race day. It also gives his bar a chance to attract new and loyal customers.
“[This is] epic. This kind of event [is] really [a] springboard for the rest of the year. People are going to come back because they came for the race and will see the beauty of our restaurant, on this block,” said Kernion.
Kerry McKoy, president of BikeBling.com in Escondido says he’s ready for the business rush.
"We're just thrilled to have the exposure, with 60,000 estimated people coming downtown, couldn't be happier about that,” said McKoy.
Shopkeepers believe a big draw for spectators and potential customers will be Grand Avenue itself, which has undergone beautification since 2009 – the last time the Amgen Tour was in Escondido.
“This portion of Grand Avenue, this is it as far as Escondido goes, to have our business on such a wonderful street corner during this race is going to be huge," added Kernion.
For more details, including maps, on the Amgen Tour of California, visit the event website.