2012-05-10 / Front Page

Tour of California bike race rolls on Wednesday

On Wednesday, viewers around the globe will follow the race as it leaves Sonora and passes through Coulterville, Mariposa and Oakhurst on its way to Clovis.

The dozens of riders from 16 international teams are expected to cover the 130-mile course in about six hours. The cyclists are expected to pass through the center of Mariposa between 12:30 and 1 p.m. They are expected to cross the line into Madera County around 1:30 p.m. The racers are expected in Coulterville about an hour after the 10:35 a.m. start time.

The Tour’s new May date is a sign that the California event has matured and captured the attention of the international cycling world, said Rick Garner of Yosemite Bicycle in Oakhurst. “They had to make room on the international calendar,” Garner said. “Back in 2009, it was a newbie race. Now, a whole lot of top pros are deciding to skip the Giro (d’Italia) and go to California.” Many teams are sending riders both to Italy and California this year.

 Last year, The California Tour was broadcast in 216 counties and territories across the globe. That fact makes the event attractive to the Yosemite/ Mariposa County Tourism Bureau— which lobbied for several years to bring the event here.

“A race of this magnitude lets the world know that there is a town here called Mariposa,” the bureau’s Julie Hadzega said. “And that its near Yosemite, and it’s a great place to stay.”

A team of professionals and volunteers is ready to keep pedestrians and motorists from bumping into the race. The local California Highway Patrol office plans to deploy at least a dozen officers to run a “rolling road closure” in front of and behind the race, CHP Sgt. Becky Hagen said.

Hagen said any delays due to the race should be minimal. “We expect about 15 minutes between the slowest and fastest riders,” she said.

About 36 volunteers managed by the Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce will staff closure points set up by the CHP.

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