Amgen Tour of California Stage Four information

WHEN: Race begins today at 11 a.m. at the corner of N and 18th streets. The peloton will make two loops through a figure-eight course downtown, before heading north on M Street and then toward the hills along Bear Creek Drive.

WEATHER WATCH: Morning and afternoon forecasts call for fog and patches of sunshine, according to, with a high of 58 degrees.

WHERE TO WATCH: Virtually every street and corner will offer excellent vantage points. The tree-lined avenues, the wide creek meandering through town and the city's historic buildings will provide picturesque backdrops for the race. Among the best views:

N and 18th streets: The starting point of Stage 4 will be filled with frenzied fans watching the start of this epic race. Set in front of the Merced Civic Center with its stately palms, the street will be decked out with banners, arches and signs. In the background, a giant screen will show the televised start, up close and personal.

M Street, between 18th Street and Bear Creek Drive: After making the loops through the downtown, the cyclists hit the first straightaway of the race -- three-quarters of a mile up M Street. Because of narrow shoulders, the best place to watch the North Bear Creek Drive leg of the race is from across the creek on West 28th Street.

South Bear Creek Drive: Running parallel to the road is one of the city's many Class I bike paths, providing plenty of viewing opportunities for the public, especially those who arrive on two wheels.

Bear Creek and McKee Road: Here's where the riders start burning rubber, as the timed portion of the race officially begins. Watch as the cyclists continue along South Bear Creek Drive, jockeying for position.

ROAD CLOSURES: The California Highway Patrol is advising those traveling in and around Merced and Mariposa counties today to expect traffic delays between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the following roads:

South Bear Creek Drive, between McKee and Cunningham Road.

Highway 140, between Cunningham and Mariposa.

Highway 140, through the city of Mariposa.

Highway 49, between the city of Mariposa and Nipinnawasse.

BUS ROUTE CHANGES: Some local bus routes will be changed today to accommodate the race. For specific information, go to Merced County's Web site,

THINGS TO DO: Amgen and the city of Merced have planned an afternoon of activities, including:

Autograph Alley: Racers will sign autographs outside the Civic Center before the race.

Face-painting, bounce houses, art projects, souvenir stands and games.

And the Merced Mall Fun Ride. After the race has left town, local cyclists are invited to ride the course.

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