Big Bear Lake, CA — As the Amgen Tour of California cycled through Big Bear on Friday, May 21st, legendary cycling commentator Phil Liggett raved, “We have been treated to one of the best cycling stages we’ve seen in America, ever.” However, on a more local level, response from business owners has been mixed as, though the event brought more crowds than the Big Bear Valley would have enjoyed on a normal pre-Memorial Day weekend, the world-class cycling competition did not draw the numbers of, say, a Saturday Fourth of July, for which the City of Big Bear Lake had potentially braced. As noted by Sara Russ, CEO of the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce, who has spoken with business owners in the days since, “Compared to last year, business owners did see additional business, but not the scale they were hoping for.” To that end, the Resort Association’s CEO Rick Shoup tells KBHR, “What we have heard from other host cities is that it grows ever year. Though our Village event on Friday evening wasn’t very well attended, several restaurants did very well. It is consistent with what we were led to expect from other host cities.” One deterrent to the anticipated—or at least hoped for—crowds is that cycling great Lance Armstrong suffered an injury the day prior to the stage 6 climb, which kept him from making the ride from Palmdale to Big Bear. Another point, as made by Shoup of the RA (which had targeted cycling enthusiasts via cycling publications, websites and blogs) is that Big Bear was just one of many stages hosted in Southern California, and less readily accessible than other host cities in the Los Angeles area. Though most of the overnight guests, either with or following the race, booked a Thursday night stay, rather than continuing through the weekend, there is one point on which all can agree in terms of benefit to the Big Bear Valley. As put by Russ, “People were blown away with the phenomenal coverage Big Bear got and the beautiful panoramic shots.” Marketing expert Shoup concurs: “The real value of the Amgen Tour came from the absolutely magnificent exposure and comments from announcers during the race—and what I keep pointing out to people is that this is a niche market, but it is exactly the kind of people that Big Bear draws, the outdoor recreation enthusiasts. It gave us worldwide exposure.” Promoters of the event suggested that about 8,000 spectators lined Summit Boulevard for the event’s first-ever mountaintop finish, and that several thousand more were staged along the course to watch the professional cyclists round Big Bear Lake. Though Amgen organizers AEG Sports have not yet named host cities for next year’s event, Big Bear can only stand to gain from the worldwide exposure which captured our mountain community and lake on a beautiful, clear day. As summed up by the Chamber’s Russ, “The primary reason we were doing the event was for the excellent press coverage and the repeat business the event would generate, which I think on both points we delivered. Overall, the event was very successful and met the Chamber’s expectations. It was a great kick-off for the summer.”

The immediate economic benefit of the Amgen Tour was felt by restaurants, more than the retail and lodging industries--though it is anticipated that Big Bear tourism will grow as a result of great coverage featuring our mountain community. Promoters of the Amgen Tour estimated that as many as 8,000 spectators lined Summit Boulevard, to watch cyclist Peter Sagan of Team LiquiGas-Doimo win stage 6 in the event's first-ever mountaintop finish. Third place finisher Michael Rogers of HTC-Columbia (in white and yellow) ultimately won the overall event.