The Amgen Tour of California, among the biggest professional cycling races in the nation, will begin its 750-mile, eight-day event in Escondido, city officials recently said.

This year’s tour returns to the city that was the finish line for the 2009 race. The event runs from May 12 through 19, and finishes in Santa Rosa.

City officials are banking on the national and international exposure including some 44 hours of televised coverage to justify spending of about $475,000 to attract the event.

The bulk of the cost is for hotel rooms and meals for the racers and organizing staff during their stay here prior to the race, estimated at $300,000. The remainder of the costs is for police and related services.

According to city officials, Santa Rosa, which has hosted the start of Amgen several times, said visitors spent $6.8 million.

— SDBJ Staff Report