Bikes, crowds roll into Morgan Hill for race

City apologizes for traffic snafu

Morgan Hill got its moment on the international stage May 14 as the Amgen Tour of California passed through the city.

The 129.2-mile stage 3 route of the race began in Stockton the morning of May 14, finishing at the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center on Condit Road in the afternoon. Overall, TOC competitors pedaled 773 miles from May 12-18, beginning in Sacramento and finishing in Pasadena.

The race is broadcast to more than 200 countries and territories by NBCSN and NBC Sports.

Morgan Hill Economic Development Director Edith Ramirez said it is too early to say how the event benefited the city economically, but said a conservative estimate counted about 2,000 attendees.

“The race was beautiful,” she said. “It was well-executed, and the coverage that Morgan Hill got was really wonderful.”

The Amgen finish marked the end of Bike Week in Morgan Hill. Festivities from May 3-14 included the monthly Bike Party, a Community Ride, Bike to School Day, Bike to Work Day and a Kids’ Bike Rodeo in downtown Morgan Hill.

Such celebrations show locals and visitors that Morgan Hill is a sports recreation hotspot, Ramirez said.

“We have this vision of Morgan Hill being a sports recreation destination,” she said. “When a tremendous event like the Amgen Tour of California comes into town, and for this community to be able to embrace it and do it well, it’s really a moment for us to reflect on what a wonderful community we have.”

The city council approved $55,000 to host the event. This sum paid for traffic control, marketing and other event operations.

On May 15, the council approved an agreement with the recently formed Morgan Hill Tourism Business Improvement District, which will contribute $27,500 for the 2018 Amgen that was held in the city, and another $27,500 for the May 14 race. The payments will be made to the city over the course of a year.

As part of its agreement with AEG Cycling, LLC, which organizes the Amgen TOC, Morgan Hill received a 30-second commercial on national television and had a page on the official Amgen website, promoting the city and its businesses.

Traffic headaches

While the race was considered a success for the city from a visibility standpoint, it was anything but for local commuters.

Morgan Hill residents received an apology from City Hall on May 14 for traffic delays following the race.

Although traffic delays were expected and publicized by the city and event organizers, Morgan Hill Community Engagement Officer Maureen Tobin said the road opening took 45 minutes longer than expected.

Tobin said the circumstances were out of the city’s control, but that the delay “did cause a headache to those who were keeping track” of the road closures. Many residents took to Facebook to air their frustrations. Some claimed it took more than an hour to travel from Gilroy to Morgan Hill that afternoon, following the completion of the Tour of California Stage 3 race.

The city’s emergency email read, “Although there was significant planning and preparation for this event, due to issues and conditions on the course, the race required longer road closures than had been anticipated and planned for. We recognize that this caused significant inconvenience, frustration and concern for many. We sincerely apologize.”

The results

Frenchman Remi Cavagna of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step cycling team won the third stage of the Amgen Tour of California on May 14, crossing the finish line in Morgan Hill more than seven minutes before the rest of the pack.

Coming in second was American Benjamin King of Team Dimension Data. Simon Geschke of Germany and CCC Team took third place in the third of seven stages in the men’s professional cycling race. Tejay van Garderen, a Washington resident and EF Education First Pro Cycling team member, finished as the overall race leader and thus claimed the TOC’s “yellow jersey” when he crossed the finish line in Morgan Hill.

Internationally known bicycle manufacturer Specialized Bicycle Components, which makes its home in Morgan Hill, has participated as a sponsor for many TOC riders over the years. The company opened its headquarters to the public on Concord Circle after the stage 3 race, adding to the local festivities surrounding the TOC.

At the conclusion of the seventh and final stage of the men’s Amgen TOC in Pasadena May 18, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates was announced as the overall winner.

A boon for business

Doug Hall, co-owner of Bike Therapy on Depot Street, said it was all hands on deck for his business, with staff divided between the store and the expo at the finish line.

“It was awesome,” he said. “We had a lot of foot traffic prior to the race at the store. A lot of people called for information as well. We were definitely busy on that front.”

Hall added that many people who stopped into Bike Therapy had never heard of the shop before.

“The visibility we got was huge,” he said. “There’s no question it was an amazing thing for us.”

With Morgan Hill being a finish line this year, compared to a time trial host in 2018, Hall said sales were better last year, as the time trials took place throughout the day. While noting that May 14 was a “good sales” day for Bike Therapy, he said the majority of crowds didn’t show up until the afternoon, after the racers reached Morgan Hill.

“This is such a great event for Morgan Hill,” he said. “It really makes Morgan Hill shine.”

This is the second consecutive year the Amgen Tour has visited Morgan Hill. In 2018, when the city hosted the Amgen time trial, the economic impact for Morgan Hill was estimated at roughly $200,000, according to Ramirez. The race booked about 40 hotel rooms, increasing transient occupancy tax by $86,000 compared to 2017.

That year brought a few thousand spectators, as well as more than 800 people who were part of the tour entourage and hundreds of volunteers.

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