Long Beach is hosting the first day of this year’s Amgen Tour of California, a professional cycling event, on May 13. This marks the event’s 13th year and the first time in 11 years that it will go through Long Beach.

(Amgen Tour photograph provided by the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau)


The men’s race takes place over seven days, with stops in 10 other California cities. It allows, at most, 18 teams with seven riders each to compete along a 600-mile course. The race is designed to cover a variety of terrain, in order to accommodate cyclists’ different specialties. A separate women’s race will occur over three days in Northern California. Both competitions end in Sacramento on May 19.


“We knew we wanted to go back to Long Beach the last time we were there . . . in 2007,” the tour’s president, Kristin Klein, said. “There’s so much support from the city and it’s such a strong cycling community. Long Beach is an iconic location. It’s a destination location.” Klein is also the executive vice-president of AEG Sports, which owns and operates the Amgen tour.


AEG’s vice president of communications, Michael Roth, recalled the “tremendous skyline” from the last time the tour was in Long Beach.


“The ocean made the helicopter [photo] shots really spectacular,” he said. “The fans were not only enthusiastic but also very knowledgeable about cycling.”


Klein pointed to several initiatives that demonstrate the city’s commitment to promoting cycling. These include the bike share program, which allows users to set up an account to borrow bikes placed at different locations around the city. She also expressed interest in the Beach Streets events, when certain corridors are closed to vehicular traffic to encourage the use of bikes and public transit, as well as to support local businesses.


“The Beach Streets have such a festive environment,” Klein said. “We want to collaborate on these events to get everyone excited about the Amgen tour. All the riders will come in about a week before. We’ll see a lot of action going on in the street.” On May 11, Amgen will hold the official team presentation to introduce the teams and riders. It is a public event and the location is not yet determined.


Roth compared the Amgen tour to the level of the Tour de France, as many of the participants are world champions or Olympians. But he and Klein emphasized that it is an event for the community and not just geared toward professional athletes. In addition to the race itself, the day of the kickoff will include food vendors and a lifestyle festival with 40-50 interactive booths that promote health and wellness.


“We’d like to get out how everyone can utilize cycling as a platform to live a healthy lifestyle because, at the end of the day, that’s what’s really important to all of us here,” Klein said.


Amgen, the race’s title sponsor, is a biotechnology company that examines therapies to improve the lives of those that suffer from serious illnesses. It utilizes human genetics to understand the biological mechanisms of diseases and develop new treatments.