Between 7,000 and 10,000 spectators came out on May 20 to watch Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California begin in Ontario to the top of Mt. Baldy.
Between 7,000 and 10,000 spectators came out on May 20 to watch Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California begin in Ontario to the top of Mt. Baldy. (LaFonzo Carter/Staff Photographer)

Special Section: Amgen 2012


Maybe next year?

Cities which were on this year's Amgen Tour of California routes are asking themselves that question after learning they had been left out of the loop for 2013.

When race organizers announced that the eighth annual race next year will switch directions and go from south to north, there was a noticeable difference in the stages. It is far less Los Angeles-centric including the elimination of two mountain climbs in the Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley.

Those in the host cities previously involved in the competition considered the nation's prestigious road cycling stage race expressed their disappointment with the redesigned course.

"I thought we were a shoo-in this year....I thought they really liked (Big Bear)," says Charlie Brewster who owns the Robinhood Resort and adjoining Nottinghams Tavern in Big Bear and hosted several race teams this year.

The new route starts May 12 in Escondido and ending May 19 in Santa Rosa, where the starting line was this year.

In May, the seventh stage began in Ontario, weaving through Upland, San Antonio Heights, Azusa, Glendora and ending above Mt. Baldy Village. There was also the stage in Big Bear with the finale from Beverly Hills to L.A. Live.

While the elimination of the stage in his mountain community might mean a financial hit to Brewster's business, to the tune of more than $10,000, he says that's the least of his concerns.


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"There were some major positives for our valley -- the national and worldwide coverage we got showing Big Bear as bicycle mecca. The long-term effect as a bicycle center was fantastic and I loved that," he said.

Brewster got involved in Amgen about three years ago when the race came to Big Bear in 2010.

And he's not the only one disheartened by the news.

"I think it was more a long-term benefit...it motivated people that wanted to ride that course because the pros did it," said Lloyd Bumstead, whose family has owned Bumstead Bicycles in Ontario for more than a century.

The arrival of Amgen in Ontario this year and Claremont the previous year, brought excitement to the spot in the Inland Empire, he said.

Local officials from Azusa and Glendora were disappointed Tuesday when the new stages were announced.

Though Highway 39 and Glendora Mountain Road were a major challenge for riders in the 2011 and 2012 races, next year's route will completely bypass the San Gabriel Valley.

"In the last couple of years we were excited as they came through Glendora and went up our mountain road," said Glendora Mayor Pro Tem Joe Santoro. "I'm saddened to think they're not going to do that next year."

Locally, spectators would gather to watch the race in Azusa and Glendora along Sierra Madre Avenue. Restaurants along the route enjoyed the boost in business both years, said Steven Castro, CEO of the Azusa Chamber of Commerce.

At the corner where the road makes the turn from Highway 39 to Sierra Madre, there's four restaurants which did a brisk business during the race, he said.

"I know in the past there's families who bring their kids out to see these professional riders ride past at 30-40 miles per hour, just inches from where you are," he said.

"I'm disappointed it's not coming anywhere near us."

The new route will only feature one mountain climb, Stage 7 from Livermore to Mt. Diablo. Bumstead said the new format may not be as challenging as before.

"I'm hoping they'll bring it back. The organizers are always trying to mix it up and you can't blame them for that. I'm hoping that from the tour feedback and maybe the (cyclists) miss the Baldy climb, it will change their minds," he said.

But Amgen organizers praised the changes, saying it would "bring in a new element" to the competition.

Rick Bates with the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce said he believes rotating the direction may become the norm.

As director of the Event Resource Office for the chamber, Bates said his office worked closely with Amgen officials to organize the finishing stage in Big Bear this year. The chamber has always viewed the tour as a long term marketing project, he added.

The stage finish cost $150,000 which was achieved through contributions from the Chamber, the Big Bear Lake resort, the city of Big Bear, and the San Bernardino County. Each agency contributed $25,000 and the rest came from sponsorships, Bates said.

"I would say on the day of the race, the amount of hotel rooms booked and the economic impact, it paid for itself. We had 7,500 to 10,000 up in the valley watching the race," said Bates, who estimates the economic impact from the television exposure Big Bear received was most likely in the millions.

But Bates was one of the few in the region not surprised by the news on Tuesday. In previous conversations with tour organizers they had indicated to Bates about the switch.

Ultimately, the chamber would like to see the race end in Big Bear and because of the changes, Bates said they did not make a bid for 2013. Instead, they are setting their sights on 2014 and have been in communication with organizers since July.

"We felt it's great to have the tour up here, it's not necessary to come every year as a regular stop on the tour," he said.


Staff writer Melissa Masatani contributed to this report.

Contact Liset via email, by phone at 909-483-8556 or on Twitter @DBOntarioNow.