Tour of California pedals through El Dorado Hills

By: Penne Usher Telegraph Correspondent
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It was a block party, parade-like atmosphere along Salmon Falls Road in El Dorado Hills Sunday for what’s billed as the largest cycling event in America, the 2010 Amgen Tour of California.

Many who lined the winding road were hoping to get a glimpse of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who was riding with Team Radio Shack.

“We are hoping to see Lance,” said Kevin Lightfoot, an avid mountain biker from El Dorado Hills. “This may be his last run.”

Lightfoot parked his Jeep Wrangler along the route, complete with snacks for his children who camped out in lawn chairs along with hundreds of others.

The atmosphere was more like a parade than a sporting event as many ate packed lunches along the route from paper plates while two young children set up a lemonade stand along the tour route. Friends and neighbors called out to one another and were heard catching up on recent events.

They sat in the sun for at least two hours for a mere minute or two of cyclist flying past.

The Tour de France-style cycling road race challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a course that will bring cyclists from the Auburn area along Highway 49 to El Dorado Hills during the first stage.

Riders headed out from Nevada City on the first day of the eight-day race. The finish of the first leg ended at the capitol building in Sacramento.

All along Salmon Falls Road spectators set up camp with lawn chairs and lunch. Many who live along the route made a day of it with barbeques a blaze and friends and family set up in comfy chairs under shade canopies.

Sandy and Jeff Robertson, of Roseville, found a perfect spot along the route just south of the Salmon Falls Bridge.

“We’ve seen the race before but we were downtown (in Sacramento),” Jeff Robertson said. “This is one of the biggest tours now. All the riders are in their peak shape getting ready for the Tour de France.”

Like many others, Robertson was hoping to get a glimpse of Lance Armstrong.

Robertson got his wish. He was able to snap off a few pictures of Lance along with several other riders as they crossed the bridge.

It may have been all about Lance for spectators, but he didn’t make a showing in the top finishers for this leg of the tour.

Mark Cavendish, of team HTC Columbia, took the top spot for the day.

Penne Usher can be reached at

To view additional photos, see Salmon Falls Road Through El Dorado Hills Old Town Auburn Upper Lincoln Way in Auburn Foresthill Bridge, Bowman area Downtown Auburn