Tour of California bicycle race coming to Palo Alto


Many of the professional bicycle racers now competing in the Tour de France will be in Palo Alto Feb. 17, 2008, for the prologue that kicks off the Tour of California bicycle race.

Palo Alto and Stanford University will be the host of the prologue, a time trial, having successfully won the bid to be the hosts. The rest of the Tour of California, a week-long race, will range from Santa Rosa to Sacramento to Pasadena.

The event is expected to draw 50,000 people to Palo Alto and the campus, city officials estimate.

"No one has signed the start-roster yet, but I guarantee a lot of big names will be here," said Palo Altan Jim Ochowicz, the president of the board of directors of USA Cycling, the group that sanctions all bicycle races in the United States.

Last year's Tour of California winner was Levi Leipheimer, an American, of Team Discovery. Leipheimer is currently fourth in the Tour de France.

Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto hosted a press conference Wednesday morning in front of City Hall to announce the Tour of California coming to Palo Alto and Stanford. Kishimoto was joined by City Councilman Sam Liccardo of San Jose, which has also been designated a Tour of California host city.

The City of Palo Alto is seeking businesses to be financial supporters of the event, which would otherwise cost the city about $65,000. The overall cost of hosting the prologue, shared by the city, Stanford and AEG, a sports corporation sponsor, is $195,000.

"Palo Alto has a world-class bicycling community as well as being a bicycle-friendly community," Kishimoto said.

"Bicycles and cycling are at the heart of what the campus is about," said Jean McCown, director of community relations at Stanford.

More than two dozen bicyclists in brightly colored team cycling shirts and shorts, including two from the Stanford team, also attended the press conference.

Penny Ellson of the PTA Traffic Safety Committee noted that Palo Alto designated its first bicycle lane in 1972 and pioneered the concept of a bicycle boulevard. She said that 44 percent of Palo Alto Unified School District elementary school students walk or bicycle to school, compared to just 17 percent nationally.

Amgen, the sponsor of the Tour of California, approached Ochowitz of USA Cycling to find out if Palo Alto and Stanford would be interested in hosting the tour's 2008 prologue.

"The Tour of California is our biggest and best race," he said.

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Like this comment
Posted by jack
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 26, 2007 at 10:28 am


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Posted by nick
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2007 at 11:50 am

hell yeah!

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Posted by Dave
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 26, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Terrific. If the city can't manage to close one street for a "Promenade" on a Friday without causing major traffic disruptions and losses for downtown businesses, can anyone imagine what a disaster this might turn out to be?

Like this comment
Posted by J. Ober
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2007 at 3:27 pm

I hope this bicycle event in Feb. 2008 is better organized than the fiasco put on by the City last Friday afternoon and evening. While the folks who wandered around on University had a good time, the rest of the city was tied up in knots. Lets not do it to us again.

Like this comment
Posted by An Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2007 at 6:02 pm

Apparently the city has unlimited funds for these "downtown" events

I wonder how many thousands or 10s of thousands they spent on having police 24 hours a day protecting the Wallgreens fire site. I read it wnen to for many days. Did the property owners pay the city for this patrolling of private property work?
One of these instant "rent A chain link fence" firms could have done the same thing.

A comment by one of the City Council members essentially said: Fire stations aren't really necessary. They just go to fires and watch things burn and can't really control fires. Funding them is a questionable expense. He voted NO on the foothills park fire station This is what I heard him say and was suprised. Of course that fire station isn't in his neighborhood and he dosen't seem to realize that firemen/women do much more than fight fires.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2007 at 7:23 pm

I hope that all this happens when the kids are not at school. To begin with, many of them would like to watch. Secondly, there will be many opportunity for teenagers to get some work selling popcorn, souvenirs, or some such. I hope that the school district does something otherwise I expect there will be great absenteeism that day.

This is not a flippant comment, I am serious.

Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2007 at 7:37 pm

This event will take place on SUNDAY, Feb. 17, 2008. It will be a huge event, with lots of publicity and activity starting a couple of weeks in advance. The organizers are experienced, and there are a couple of large sponsors to cover expenses. There will be absolutely no excuse for someone to say that they didn't know that this was coming. Even if it causes a huge disruption to the normal downtown activities, it will be worth it! Stanford has hosted Olympic events and World Cup soccer games, and this ranks right up there with those in terms of the quality of the athletes. Let's try to stop being such gripes and grouches and welcome an event that is much larger than Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2007 at 7:53 pm

Maybe we should get the people from Mountain View to come and arrange it and then we can be certain it will be top notch.

The last two events here, the Promenade and the Stanford soccer game, were just too poorly arranged, traffic wise.

Like this comment
Posted by mike
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 27, 2007 at 8:46 am

Jeez, a WORLD CLASS international sporting event is coming to my hometown (will never be able to afford to live there again though) and all I hear is people whining about parking, traffic and rowdy teenagers selling popcorn. Growing up here I know all about you people. Lighten the hell up and enjoy life a little.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2007 at 9:31 am

Excuse me

I am not whining about rowdy teenagers selling popcorn. I was worried about them taking time off school to do so, but since the event is on a Sunday I have no fears. Actually to the contrary, I think this is a great opportunity for them to be enterprising and get a short term job. I like to see enterprise and this is a great opportunity to do so.

Like this comment
Posted by Ben W
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 27, 2007 at 10:49 am

While this might be a great event for bicycling enthusiasts, I fail to see the "benefit" to the larger community, the majority of whose members don't care about it but must nevertheless put up with the traffic, hassles and noise of the event.

There have been numerous threads about rising violent crime in town recently. How much police time will be diverted from dealing with this vital issue while attention is given to security and traffic for this sure-to-be chaotic event?

The streets need paving and our infrastructure is crumbling. Why are we having a party for bicycle racing fans who are mostly outsiders?

The mayor got a great photo-op for this event - something she seems to enjoy with maniacal regularity. What do the rest of us get?

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:26 am

This is the largest, best financed cycling race in US history. The additional sales and hotel tax revenue it will generate will more than offset the city's expenses in hosting. Plus, why is it so tragic to do something that benefits cyclists? I get no benefit from the City's spending on public art or on hosting every other festival and parade, yet I don't complain about it. There are a ton of cyclists in PA - just look at how many bike shops we have - its way more per capita than any other place in the US and these shops sell some of the highest quality bikes in the world.

Given the vast amount of sales taxes that PA Bikes, Bike Connection and Mikes Bikes (and all the other past and present bike shops) have generated for the city over the years, its nice to see the city do something that will benefit these businesses and the cycling community.

This city (and almost every city in the area) use police and other resources hosting "art and wine" festivals all summer long -- can anyone seriously dispute that this bike race will have a much greater economic impact than another needless "art and wine" festival? Isn't everyone sick of going to the same stupid "art and wine" festivals?

Even if you don't bike, this is going to be an interesting and enjoyable event, well worth the blocked off streets and city expense. It might even inspire you to try biking in one of the best towns in America for bikes.

Like this comment
Posted by Emily
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Yay! Bikes not bombs!

Like this comment
Posted by Bike
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 27, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Um I think you're all just taking this a little uptightedly. Traffic noises and other issues that we have expirienced are really tiny compared to the magnitude of a world class event coming to our town. As to those who are worried about traffic problems and noises I say I think you will live. I will feel terrible for you the whole time that you have to be in your houses crying but know that I will be crying with you. "Violent crimes" as a very thoughtful person has talked about, are virtually non exisent in our town. They do happen, but compared to many towns in the world, it is a puny speck in a whirlwind of enormous specks. I think the police will leave a couple of officers to deal with those problems, so don't be too worried. As for the rest of us called "outsiders" I hope we can enjoy the event to its limits and then later we can hold hands with the nay-sayers and whine about it.

Like this comment
Posted by bruce
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2007 at 6:08 pm

On Sundays auto traffic is very light. This event should not cause any substantial problems to drivers - especially if they avoid the area(s) or routes of the bikes. The route will be announced well ahead of time.

If you're concerned about the City's cost for police traffic control, ask the Chief or her rep what the plans are and how it will impact her budget. Citizen is probably right. The additional revenue will far outweigh this cost.

Like this comment
Posted by Herman
a resident of University South
on Jul 28, 2007 at 10:11 am

should be good. And I am sure that it will be well organized. As for you negative liberals, ease up..It is a bike race, the police will do a good job as usual and will maintain order. Anytime there is a fun event, you get the idiots asking about the infrastructure and tax dollars..If you knew anything, you would know that this event will be sponsored by mostly private donations. And observer, since you are obviously a law enforcement expert, the police were there to maintain an arson CRIME SCENE as mandated by the ATF..but you would rather cut on them and make a self determination that a rent a fence could protect a private property! Clueless. Should bring lots of business to downtown, look forward to it.

Like this comment
Posted by Toby
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2007 at 11:43 am

My family has taken off the week of the tour of California for the last two years to check out the host towns and enjoy the race. I remember each town very well, where we ate, slept, saw and did. Hopefully, our visitors this February won't go home with memories of Palo Alto being an elitist snobland. This is my hometown and I hope you people can behave for only one day.

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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2007 at 12:11 pm

Toby - excellent post. It would be nice if we can put on a good impression for the race and riders. Of course, even if we act like a bunch of snobs, the riders will be happy if there is sunshine, not rain.

Maybe we can keep the 80 year olds from Woodside off the road so they don't kill anyone training for the race.

Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2007 at 3:22 pm

Cit, I'm a biker and I agree we should put our best foot forward, but the comment about people from Woodside is out of line.

Like this comment
Posted by upstander
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 29, 2007 at 12:10 pm


since you exhibit such love for the Mt.View city government, by golly, have you considered relocating as it may help bring down your blood pressure.

you are likely one of those regulars at the PA City Council meetings. Ever considered running for a spot. elections are upcoming and this may be your chance to make a difference in Palo Alto. Spend your energy doing what our city leaders do daily, perhaps then you will have new found appreciation for running a city well.

Stop your whining. I'm sick of having you show up on every blog with your ridiculous input.

Like this comment
Posted by student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 29, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Wow, you guys bicker and whine more than the girls at my school


I personally think this is a great event and a great chance to meet people from all over, the worlds a big place and Palo Alto is just one city, open up your horizons and have some fun...

but seriously, why am i the one saying this?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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