Bachochin Klein reflects on Tour of California's 10-year success

In Q&A with Cyclingnews, Executive Director says race will continue to expand

Kristin Bachochin Klein is all about high energy and superlatives. The former collegiate tennis player at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville speaks rapidly and often in terms that help define her position as the Executive Director of the Amgen Tour of California.

Enthusiastic and fond of discussing team efforts, partnerships and accomplishments, Bachochin Klein has been employed by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), owner of the Amgen Tour of California, since 2004.

She assumed her current role in 2011, replacing Andrew Messick, now CEO of the World Triathlon Corporation. Last year, Bachochin Klein was also selected as an at-large representative to the board of directors of USA Cycling, the sport's governing body.

Ahead of the 10th edition of the Tour of California, Cyclingnews spoke with Bachochin Klein about this year's race as well as its past and future.

Cyclingnews: The race is in its 10th year. Overall, what do you think about that history when so many other races have gone way?

Bachochin Klein: As we enter the milestone, our 10th year, we want everything to reflect that caché, from the best lineup of teams and we continue to have the beautiful backdrop and the exciting route. And we continues to expand not only the men's race, but the women's race.

Let me clarify, when I say expand, I may not mean with the number of days. But I would say quality versus quantity and continue to make it bigger and better every year. We are very proud of how far we've come, but again it's definitely taken a team to get to where we are today.

CN: Looking back at 2006, can you remember something about the race that might have been surprising? Like maybe there were 100 cones put on the wrong street or something light-hearted?

KBK: Your question is very interesting. Something happens every day, even in our 10th year. It's not necessarily something the public would see, but we learn every year. The beauty of the Amgen Tour of California is that every stage, every city, every footprint is unique. There's always going to be something that comes up, but we always know that there's going to be a solution.

CN: Is there something specific that comes to mind from the past nine years?

KBK: Well, being 2006, we may not have known about all the moving parts and the magnitude of this event... When we saw the parking lots in San Jose and then Santa Rosa full of people, we knew we had something special. It was something we could dream of, but it was reality when we saw it.

CN: San Jose is the only city that has been on the race for 10 years. Why do you think that's the case?

KBK: The San Jose Sports Authority have been fantastic partners of ours and will always be long-term partners of ours. They never took it for granted that we were going to come back every year. A lot what comes into play is what are we trying to accomplish from an overall composition and competition standpoint? What are we trying to showcase to the international broadcast partners?

The Tour of California is essentially an international postcard for the State of California, and, first and foremost, San Jose is great to work with. Geographically, San Jose is a place that really works well for us. Look at what we've accomplished from the overall terrain, whether it's being downtown or finishing on Sierra Road. There are so many terrain opportunities for what we are trying to accomplish.

CN: Do AEG and Amgen have a contract for 2016?

KBK: We don't speak on behalf of contracts, but what I will say is that Amgen has been a terrific partner and we look forward to them continuing to be with us.

CN: Can you say if the race will be held in 2016.

KBK: Yes, the race will definitely be held in 2016.

CN: Considering the increasing prominence of the Giro d'Italia, do you think the Tour of California and the Giro d'Italia can continue to be on the race calendar at the same time?

KBK: Absolutely. Look at our rosters. I mean, we’ve demonstrated that we've continued to attract the best teams and riders in the world. The riders love to come to California and it's a great warm-up for the Tour de France.

CN: There's been talk that the Tour of California could become a WorldTour event. Is that a possibility?

KBK: I would say that something is never not a possibility, but it's not something we are focused on.

CN: The race has gone north to south and south to north. It's an eight-day race. What about a longer race?

KBK: I don't know if you recall, but we did expand to nine days one year. Right now, it's been successful with the eight days. Right now, short term, there are no plans to expand the men's race past eight days. And we do have 10 days of racing (men's and women's) this year.

CN: The race has reached its 10th year. Does it need to do something new or different, or is it solidified on what it's accomplished and where it is currently?

KBK: I think anybody who says they're comfortable where they are, that's not the right answer. It's amazing we are in our 10th year. But we also know we are in our infancy. It's not just a professional bike race. It's about raising awareness and having ancillary events. It's about using cycling as that vehicle to lead to a healthy lifestyle.

We were the first race to get permission from UCI to utilise on-board technology. It was amazing. We want to continue to grow, collaborate and be innovative.

CN: It's nice to have exciting bike racing and innovation, but what is something specific the race can do differently in the future?

KBK: There's always something new with technology. Whether it's social media or the Tour Tracker. It's amazing to me how fans can engage with the race because most of them are through social media. We'll also continue to look outside just the men's professional racing.

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