The sixth stage of the third annual Amgen Tour of California will arrive in Santa Barbara tomorrow morning, bringing with it 131 professional cyclists and sponsored relief for cancer patients.
The cyclists are set to cross the starting line for the second-to-last leg of the race at 11 a.m. tomorrow on California State Route 192. The cyclists will then go east toward Carpinteria onto Highway 150 as they move through Ventura County, ending in Santa Clarita.
The eight-day, 650-mile bicycle race route changes every year, but Santa Barbara County Amgen representative Laura Kath said that Amgen, a biotechnology company, has chosen to visit the area on each of the last three tours because of SB’s ideal biking conditions.
“The tour is coming to Santa Barbara because of our geography, climate and the conditions of our roads are ideal for cyclists,” Kath said. “We are well known for our hospitality.”
In addition to its part in the competitive cycling tour, Amgen partnered with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the Wellness Community to create the Breakaway From Cancer Initiative in 2005 as a component of the race. The initiative was created to educate community members, as well as raise funds for free services and programs that benefit people living with cancer.
Amgen spokeswoman Kristen Davis said that Amgen and its partners see both the tour and the initiative as a way to assist cancer patients and their families all across the country.
“Our sponsorship is a way for us to … make a real impact in supporting cancer patients and their families nationwide, and that’s why we started the Breakaway From Cancer Initiative,” Davis said. “[It] empowers patients and caregivers with education and hope, so they can live well with the disease.”
Twenty-third District Congresswoman Lois Capps will fire the starting gun Saturday morning to begin the race. According to Capps’ spokeswoman Emily Kryder, Capps is a strong advocate of the cancer relief fund and the related initiative for both personal and professional reasons.
“[Capps] approaches this from a personal perspective as someone who has lost loved ones to cancer and from a professional perspective as a nurse and as a policy maker,” Kryder said.
Additionally, Capps is a supporter of the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act in the House of Representatives. If the bill passes, it would improve survivor quality of life by standardizing all aspects of care that a cancer patient would receive, from the original diagnosis, through the stages of treatment and follow-up, Kyrder said.
“We’re fighting cancer,” she said. “We want to help people as they survive this disease.”
The race drew over 1.3 million spectators across California last year and 5,000 people in Santa Barbara alone. According to Kath, organizers expect a similar turnout this year.