PASADENA- Thousands are expected to descend on the Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday to cheer Lance Armstrong on to the finish line of Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California.
"Attendance is way up from last year," said Janet Zadua, director of special events and sponsorship with the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau. "About 40 percent more."
According to Zadua, Pasadena is expecting approximately 15,000-20,000 people to be out and about Saturday.
"It's the Lance affect in effect," said Nan Marchand, executive director of the bureau. "This is the second year we've hosted it. Pasadena is such a cycle-friendly city, we have lots of enthusiasts here."
Ending in Escondido, Calif. on Feb. 22 the Amgen Tour of California is one of the largest spectator sporting events in the United States. And with the second-to-last stage of the event coming straight through Pasadena, residents eagerly anticipate seeing Armstrong and the world-renowned group of cyclists.
Amgen is a Thousand Oaks-based drug maker.
"We've had a lot of customers that come in excited about the race," said Matt Lay, manager of Pasadena Cyclery on Walnut Avenue. Most were looking for advice on when to go and what other parts of the route they could watch from, he said.
Lay's advice: Get there at least a couple hours before riders to avoid running into road closures. And if you plan on standing somewhere along the race route, choose an uphill side. "Don't watch on the downhill side. You won't see much of the riders as they whiz by," he said.
Race day revelers planning to spend the whole day down by the Bowl can visit the Amgen Lifestyle Festival on West Drive at the Rose Bowl.
The health-and-wellness oriented festival will provide food and beverages, an entertainment stage, kids fitness zone and cycling vendors selling gear.
To get around the traffic and parking issues, Marchand suggested residents take advantage of the free shuttle service from Memorial Park station.
And be sure to bring a jacket.
According to local weather forecasts, it looks to be a cloudy but warm day, dipping down into the 50s in the evening.
Riders will cross the finish line, located at West Drive at Seco Street, after a five-mile circuit around the Rose Bowl, according to the Amgen Web site.
For those expecting autographs at the finish line, Marchand said it's unlikely.
"(Riders) usually leave pretty quickly after the race," she said.
As of Wednesday, two-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer had the overall lead, according to the tour's Web site.
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4911
If you go:
Race day: Saturday, Feb. 21, 10:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Finish line: Rose Bowl - West Drive at Seco Street
Riders expected to enter Rose Bowl: 3-4 p.m.
Street closures around Rose Bowl: 2-3:30 p.m.
Parking: Drivers should arrive at Rose Bowl by 1 p.m. No parking in nearby neighborhoods.
Parking Fee: $10
Metro: Gold Line. Free bus shuttle service from Memorial Park (Holly St.) Station to Rose Bowl every 25 minutes. Bicycles accommodated.
Bicycle valet parking at Rose Bowl 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where to watch live:
West Drive (adjacent to finish line): Peloton will ride by five times. Best place to watch the finish.
Seco Street (between West Drive & Linda Vista Drive): view of the peloton riding uphill on the circuit
Holly Street bridge: Peloton will race past five times from Linda Vista to Grand Avenue
Arroyo Terrance (between Grand & Scott Place): Residential neighborhood that peloton will pass through five times. No parking.
Rose Bowl Drive (between Rosemont & Arroyo Boulevard): Steep grade drive with views of cyclists going uphill.
Washington Boulevard (between Arroyo Boulevard & Rosemount): Peloton will make its way downhill here
Linda Vista (between Highland Drive & Salvia Canon): Cyclists will pass through stretch of Linda Vista once. At Salvia Canon, cyclists will go southbound down the hill. Short walk to finish line.
Where to watch online: Versus.com
To see a map of the race, visit: http://www.visitpasadena.com/ATOC/Race_Route_Map.pdf