Tour of California to finish in Santa Rosa

SANTA ROSA -- Santa Rosa will play host to the final stage of the Tour of California in 2013, playing a role in the internationally renowned cycling race for the seventh time and hosting the tour's climax during its first-ever south-to-north route, according to an announcement today by race organizers.

The announcement follows a concentrated effort to bring the tour back to Sonoma County next year, with hopes to duplicate a significant economic windfall and continue to grow the region's reputation as a Mecca for cycling enthusiasts.

Officials estimated that hotel and other spending connected to the race helped generate $6.9 million in business for Sonoma County in 2012, along with additional revenue from year-round training by participating teams.

After helping to craft the proposal that won Santa Rosa's spot at the tour's finish, the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitor's Bureau will now take the lead in coordinating financing for expenses related to road closures and other special requirements.

Last year, those expenses were estimated at $525,000, funded largely by revenue from the Santa Rosa Tourism Business Improvement Area tax on lodging operators within city limits. More than 40,000 people were estimated to have attended the start of the race in 2012.

Stage 1 of the eight-stage race will begin and finish in Escondido in northern San Diego County on May 12. The final stage will begin in San Francisco and end in Santa Rosa, completing a 750-mile journey that organizers say helps advertise California's diverse scenery to an international audience.

Local sponsors for the event include Santa Rosa's Tourism Business Improvement Area, Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Gran Fondo, Sutter Medical Center and Whole Foods Market.

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