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Close to Home: Santa Rosa remains cycling town with or without Tour of California

  • Riders speed down 4th St. in downtown Santa Rosa on the final lap of the final day of the Amgen Tour of California on May 19. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

By RAISSA DE LA ROSA and DAVID GUHIN

The team that worked to bring the Amgen Tour of California to Santa Rosa is truly grateful for the tremendous support the community has given the race since 2006.

For this reason the team members also understand the passionate response to the news that the city of Santa Rosa has decided not to join the competitive bidding process to host the race in 2014. But let us be clear: Santa Rosa has not hosted its last big bike race.

This team, composed of a healthy mix of public and private sector committee members and stakeholders, did not say no to the Amgen Tour of California. Rather, we made a strategic decision regarding the 2014 bidding process based on a number of factors. This doesn't mean that we will not or cannot host a stage in the future, and it doesn't mean that Santa Rosa will not continue to receive the benefits that have come with seven years of hosting this fantastic event.

Without a doubt, Santa Rosa has benefited from international exposure, expanding and elevating Santa Rosa's destination brand and enhancing community pride, spurring the development of a variety of new local events. Furthermore, local supporters have contributed more than $1.2 million over the years to host the race in Sonoma County, resulting in more than $20 million in economic impacts since 2006. The benefits are big, real and go well beyond quantifiable impacts. And, behind the scenes, they take a massive effort to achieve.

Given all the success, what was the deliberation process that led to the decision not to submit a 2014 bid? It is important to know that all the reasons listed in Brett Wilkinson's well-researched article (“Mixed reaction to pass on tour,” Aug. 18) and the follow-up editorial (“Taking a break from the tour,” Aug. 20) are true but only partially stated.

True, we have never recruited enough volunteers and struggle with waning interest from sponsors, leaving us to ask for more from a diminishing pool of willing funders. That said, it has been convenient for us to be overly simplistic about the why. The truth is this was a difficult decision, and one that was informed by years of experience and an intimate understanding of the evolving nuances of producing this world-class race in partnership with AEG Sports, owner of the Amgen Tour of California.

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