LIVERMORE -- Adding a grueling "King of the Mountain" chase to the top of Mount Diablo, the Amgen Tour of California cycling race will return to the Tri-Valley in 2013 with a race day beginning in downtown Livermore.
"Mount Diablo is probably one of the most epic climbs that's been incorporated into the Amgen Tour of California," said Kristin Bachochin, AEG Sports' executive director of the tour, at Tuesday's announcement of the 2013 race schedule. "So, to have the opportunity to finish on top of it is going to be pretty phenomenal."
The 750-mile statewide tour will begin in Escondido on May 12 and end in Santa Rosa on May 19. Livermore joins 12 other California cities to host a Tour stage, including San Jose, San Francisco and Santa Barbara. For the first time in the race's eight-year history, riders will travel from south to north along the route,
Also for the first time, riders will ride to the very top of Mount Diablo. This year's race took riders only halfway up the peak.
The course announcement was big news for Livermore, after it looked like the city would miss out this year.
After the City Council declined to spend the $100,000 that AEG initially required from host cities in October, community groups and private sponsors contacted city officials, pledging to offset costs. Officials also met with AEG and worked out additional cost-saving measures.
At the eleventh hour, on Monday night, the Council voted unanimously to authorize $35,000 to bid for the stage, which will pay for hotel rooms and meals for riders and race organizers. The city's share of the funds will be covered by Shea Homes, Chevron and the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, with more sponsors expected to contribute.
"We're thrilled that we were able to work with AEG and our city partners and community groups to actually be able to host the stage seven start here in Livermore," said Rob White, the city's economic development director. "We've been able to pull together this partnership to show the community is supportive of these kinds of large events that really bring a focus, an attraction and tourism to our town."
The Livermore-Mount Diablo stage, the seventh of the statewide tour, will be May 18.
From the Livermore area, the route will head up South Gate Road to the summit of Mount Diablo.
A road racing cyclist himself, Mt. Diablo State Park Superintendent Roland Gaebert said he was "thrilled" the park would be hosting a finish, especially near the Tour's finale, which traditionally includes a challenging climb.
"It's absolutely fabulous," Gaebert said. "Mount Diablo is such an iconic place for cyclists, so it's the right thing to do."
Gaebert said park officials expect a huge turnout, and are working out crowd control issues. While the park "clearly" doesn't have the parking to handle a huge crowd, Gaebert said, racing fans will be encouraged to walk or bike in.
Livermore previously hosted a stage start in 2011 and a stage finish in 2012. The 2011 event generated about $750,000 for the local economy, city officials said.
White said hosting a Saturday stage will allow for more volunteers, further reducing costs.
Mayor John Marchand said the city will likely hold a community festival to coincide.
"I think it's a real win for everybody," he said.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.