CLAREMONT — One of cycling’s well-known races will be rolling up and over Inland Valley foothills in May.

A press conference and celebration was held Thursday afternoon to celebrate the city of Claremont being one of the host cities in the May 2011 Amgen Tour of California.

Claremont will be the start of Stage 7 of the premier California cycling race, said Mayor Linda Elderkin. That stage will start at Claremont Metrolink Depot and head up to Mt. Baldy.

“The climb up that mountain starts right here,” Elderkin said to applause from more than 100 people gathered in yellow t-shirts announcing the tour.

“Up switchbacks and thousands of feet of elevation,” she said. “Surprisingly, the riders are looking forward to this.”

Andrew Behnke, president of the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, told those gathered that the tour will be especially beneficial to city businesses.

Retired professional cyclist and Olympic veteran Tony Cruz attended the press conference, saying he has family in Pomona and is very familiar with the cycling in the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire.

“I cut my teeth on those mountains,” he said. “To have this race come into Claremont is just like a European cycling stage.”

He said Stage 7 will be one of the defining stages in deciding the winner of the eight-day competition.

Andrew Messick, president of the sponsoring AEG Sports, also said Thursday the Claremont stage would be a race highlight.

“We start in Claremont, a new host city, and finish up by the Mt. Baldy ski area. It’s very hard, a very steep finish. If we went all the way to the top of the ski area, there are 18 switchbacks in the last 4½ miles,” Messick said.

There is also a grade of 10 percent in those last four miles, he added.

Claremont has “a passionate biking community within the community and they were eager and excited to be part of what we consider will be one of the finishing stages of this year’s race,” he said.

Messick said the race will bring people with entourages, thousands of fans and tour operators to make it a “cycling destination. A place where people go to ride their bikes.”

He said officials hoped it would put more of a focus on bicycling riding in the region. The race will be broadcast to 90 countries.

Messick said Mt. Baldy was chosen because it was “one of the most iconic and decisive climbs in Southern California. It has the characteristics you want in a stage that’s going to play a pivotal role in who wins … there’s not too many stages like that.”

He added that the Baldy route would also incorporate Glendora Mountain Road and the Glendora Ridge Road, alpine roads west of the Mount Baldy Village and north of Glendora, in the stage.

The actual route for the event will be announced in late December or early January, Messick said.

City Manager Jeff Parker said Thursday morning the event is expected to attract anywhere from 15,000 to 50,000 people, he said.

There is a preliminary budget of $100,000 set aside for the event split between the city, Chamber of Commerce and a bid committee, city officials said.

Keith Hunt, president of the Mt. Baldy Chamber of Commerce, said the extra number of people would help out the area.

“It’s pretty exciting for us because we’re basically known for being a ski area, skiing, snowboarding and tubing,” Hunt said. “A lot of people don’t realize we are open during the summer and we don’t roll up. We are still there for the hikers, mountain bikers and the sightseers.”

Hunt said he was also looking forward to seeing Lance Armstrong of Team Radioshack compete in the event.

“It’s great for us and great for the area,” Hunt said. “If you drive up Mt. Baldy Road any day you’ll see guys on the road going up and down. So I think we’re going to see a lot more now that we’re one of the stages for sure.”