LIVERMORE -- From sunglasses with lenses that look like bicycle wheels, to cocktail specials with names like "Stage 4 Road Rash Bloody Mary," there was no shortage of Amgen enthusiasm -- or its accompanying kitsch -- in downtown Livermore on Tuesday night.

In an effort to ramp up interest in the 82-mile course, merchants are exploiting their creativity via novelty foods, beverages and other items.

For $26, visitors can purchase "The Tour," a Bordeaux blend with a label commemorating the event. The wine -- a collaboration between Cuda Ridge Wines and First Street Wine Company -- was an attempt to pair something the Livermore Valley already is known for with the city's new status as a starting point for the race, said First Street owner Linda Allen.

"The wine culture and bike culture blend really well together," she added.

Businesses are not the only establishments hoping to capitalize, either.

Bicycle wheels decorated by local artists and on display in downtown storefronts will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society's 2011 Relay for Life. The event is set for June 25-26 at Livermore High School.

Patrons also can support the Taylor Family Foundation by stopping inside Simply Fondue restaurant on First Street and entering a $5 raffle for a free bicycle. Donations will go toward the nonprofit, which operates camps for children with life-threatening diseases at Camp Arroyo.


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This is the first year the city was picked to serve as a starting point, and organizers are hoping the bicycle gods will smile more kindly on Livermore's portion of the race than it did on the first two stages.

Unseasonable snow and ice led to the cancellation of Stage 1 around Lake Tahoe on Sunday and to the relocation and shortening of Stage 2 on Monday. Stage 3 from Auburn to Modesto was unaffected.

"Fortunately, this will be a rain-or-shine event," Rachael Snedecor, director of Livermore Downtown Inc. said of Stage 4. "Unfortunately (for the first two stages), it wasn't a snow-or-shine event," she added.

On Wednesday, professional cyclists will depart from First and L Streets, loop around the downtown, then head out along East Avenue. They will turn onto Vasco Road, then Patterson Pass Road, before emerging on Tesla Road with a final turn on Mines Road as they head for San Jose.

In anticipation of the big day, Livermore Downtown Inc. hosted "Bike Night" Tuesday, inviting families to ride their bikes downtown. A small but excited crowd -- including Michelle Offill and her 13-year-old daughter Courtney -- braved the wind and off-and-on rain to attend.

The two donned pink and red pairs of the aforementioned sunglasses (on sale for $8 at Woopsiedaisy toy store on South J Street).

"Our whole family rides bikes," said Michelle, adding that she participates in a weekly roadbiking club in Livermore called "Hillclimbing Hotties."

The Granada High mom, who said she plans to sell water during the race to raise money for her older daughter's upcoming Grad Night, motioned toward the overcast sky.

"Now I think coffee or hot chocolate would have been a better idea," she said.

Contact Reporter Jeanine Benca at 925-847-2125.

Amgen Tour
Race begins: 11:45 a.m. Wednesday at First and L Streets in downtown Livermore
Race ends: About
3:15 p.m. in San Jose
Length: 81.8 miles
Online: www.amgentourofcalifornia.com, www.livermoredowntown.com