Third leg of Amgen tour begins in SJ

February 17, 2009 1:38:03 PM PST
The third stage of the Amgen Tour of California was set to begin shortly before noon today in San Jose.

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This 104.2-mile segment of the race begins at San Fernando Street and Almaden Boulevard, and ends in Modesto later this afternoon. Steven Brewster, a spokesman for San Jose's Office of Economic Development said the start gun would be fired at 11:48 a.m.

Seventeen cycling teams are competing in the popular professional cycling race, which began Feb. 14 in Sacramento. They will ride a total of about 750 miles through California, finishing Feb. 22 in Escondido.

The San Jose-to-Modesto stage of the race takes riders up steep inclines and a winding stretch of Calaveras Road in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that includes more than 40 switchbacks, according to the Amgen Tour map.

Brewster said San Jose had anticipated up to 20,000 attendees at this morning's kickoff event, but said intermittent rain showers could scale back that number. He said the morning's race staging and rider preparations were "hectic and exciting."

"We're doing all of this under really rainy skies," he said.

While San Jose has hosted portions of the race in previous years, this marks its first year as a starting city, according to background from the Amgen Tour of California Web site.

A variety of rolling street closures are planned as the cyclists head northeast out of the city, Brewster said. He expected roadways in San Jose to return to normal shortly after noon.

The race will also affect public transit. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority issued a notice this morning that most bus routes serving downtown San Jose will experience service disruptions from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Affected routes include the 11, 22, 23, 45, 61, 62, 66, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 82, 180 and 522 bus lines. The VTA will station employees throughout the downtown during that time to direct riders to temporary bus stops.

Light rail should experience only minor delays, VTA officials said.

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