Bike tour skirts area

The Amgen Tour of California will not return to La Cañada Flintridge this year due to Station-fire-related risks to cyclists, race officials announced this week.

The tour, which begins May 16 in San Diego, was scheduled to traverse Angeles Crest Highway during its sixth stage.

Representatives for the California Department of Transportation last week alerted AEG Sports officials, the coordinators of the Amgen Tour, that the possibility of rock slides in the burn area along Angeles Crest Highway posed too much of a safety risk.

AEG president Andrew Messick posted the news Wednesday on the tour’s website.

“Several parts of the roads are causing rock slides and landslides; there are several portions of the road that have been washed out by rains,” said Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler.

“There’s no vegetation. It’s just soil and rocks, and a landslide could occur at any time. No motorists are allowed on the highway because the road is unsafe.”

AEG spokesman Michael Roth said Caltrans notified tour coordinators that the stage would have to be rerouted to avoid Angeles Crest.

“We aren’t going to question their wisdom on this. We’re working on a few different routes, and by this time next week, we should have another one,” Roth said.

Stage 6 of the eight-stage tour was supposed to run from Pasadena, through La Cañada, up Angeles Crest and end at Big Bear Lake on May 21.

“That route had a lot of highlights for the race,” Roth said.

“It’s a shame to not go back to Pasadena. We’ve had some great experiences there. Hopefully the fans will still come out and support the race.”

Roth said plans for next year’s routes will be discussed after the 2010 race is finished, but said the route through La Cañada and Pasadena has been “good to us.”

Messick said the stage will still finish in Big Bear Lake.

La Cañada resident Greg Frame, who lives on Commonwealth Avenue, previously part of the Amgen route, expressed dismay at the turn of events.

“I’m a little bummed out,” said Frame, 56, an avid cyclist. “The whole peloton came down my street last year. Lance Armstrong came down my street. Our whole family was out in front of our house watching. It was fun — even though you only see them for a split second.”

The tour first came through La Cañada in 2008, when the Stage 7 route from Santa Clarita to Pasadena traveled south on Angeles Crest Highway. The 2009 route repeated that trip.

The 2010 Amgen Tour will start May 16 and end May 23.

Chandler said the forest highway will be closed until Caltrans crews finish fixing it, likely in mid-July.

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