With his arms stretched wide, American cyclist Evan Huffman rode in as the first-place winner at the Stage 4 finish line in Santa Clarita for the AMGEN Tour of California race on Wednesday afternoon.
As thousands of community members gathered to cheer for the tour’s 13th visit to the city, some of the world’s top cyclists competed in the 100-mile trek from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita for the fourth of seven stages.
“Dreams do come true in Santa Clarita,” race stage announcer Dave Towle said. “It is rare you see a victory out of the breakaway, but that victory is being made in Santa Clarita.”
Mayor Cameron Smyth presented Huffman with a California bear statue made by a local artist and expressed his enthusiasm for the race to come to the city.
“We could not be more happy to have the race in Santa Clarita,” Smyth said. “We’re very excited and can’t thank AMGEN enough for choosing Santa Clarita.”
As soon as the city hears the Tour of California will be coming to Santa Clarita again, city staff gets to work planning for the event, Smyth said.
“The city has the distinct honor of hosting more stages of the AMGEN Tour of California than any other,” City Communications Manager Carrie Lujan said. “It certainly was an exciting race to our finish line today!”
Beth Mackey, a Santa Clarita resident, said she has attended every AMGEN race that has come to the city, as well as traveled to Solvang and Thousand Oaks to see the competition.
“It’s a lot of color and it’s a fun sport,” Mackey said. “It encourages people to ride.”
Mackey and her family enjoy cycling themselves and plan to go down to Pasadena to see the race’s stage seven finish.
Resident Zac Cates has brought his six-year-old daughter Naomi to the race several times over the past few years.
“It’s a tradition,” Cates said. “The kids love the finish.”
Naomi, who has seen the race for half her life, enjoys riding her bike in her spare time.
“My favorite part is watching the race,” she said.
Local Miguel Trejo came to the race for the first time to fulfill his dream of seeing Slovakian cyclist Peter Sagan compete. Sagan is currently in first place as the Visit California Sprint Leader.
“It was a life changing experience,” Trejo said.
Matthew Harrison, originally from the United Kingdom, came to see the race from Lancaster for his third and final time. Harrison cycles himself and said the best part of the event is “all of it.”
“This is my last chance to see the race before I leave California to go back to the UK,” Harrison said.
The weeklong men’s race started on May 14 in Sacramento and will conclude on May 20 in Pasadena.
On Twitter as @ginaender