Thousands of cycling fans expected to celebrate the return of the Amgen Tour of California to downtown Santa Rosa today should bring their slickers or umbrellas.

The forecast, as of Sunday night, looked wet.

An eastbound storm was due in the North Bay at sunrise today, bringing cool temperatures, sustained 10 mph winds and about a quarter- to a half-inch of rain from showers falling into the evening.

The forecast left festival organizers in Santa Rosa disappointed but undaunted.

"Well we are still going to go forward. The cyclists are coming and we have a great festival planned," said Laneil Bryant, who is coordinating the event for the city.

Fans should don their rain gear and come anyway to watch the Stage 2 finish and enjoy the five-hour festival at Courthouse Square, she said.

Soggy weather the past two years prompted race organizers to move the 5-year-old event from February to May this year, hoping to catch Northern California's typically sunny disposition.

Sunday's ride, from Nevada City to Sacramento, was dry as British rider Mark Cavendish with the HTC-Columbia team captured the first stage.

On Monday, the riders will leave Davis at 11 a.m. pushing west and up into Napa County then down into Sonoma County. They are due into downtown Santa Rosa between 3-4 p.m.

They will meet the cool rain somewhere in the middle.

"It's about as bad as it gets for May," summed up Rick Walbrun, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

The rest of the ride, which will head into Southern California, should be dry, forecasters said. But Santa Rosa's race reception this year could be a lesser version of last year's freezing, windy, rain-soaked event.

"It's certainly a disappointment given that it rained last year," said Bryant.

Still, organizers have planned block parties and other entertainment that offers fans plenty of incentives to take the day off work and converge on downtown Santa Rosa.

A city-sponsored festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Third Street between D and E streets. The event was held in Railroad Square during last year's tour stop.

"This time we wanted to be closer to the team parking and the festivities going on," Bryant said.

More then two-dozen food booths, vendors and nonprofit groups will line Third Street. Thirsty race fans will find a beer garden. The Baby Seal Club Band will play around the noon hour. Valet parking is available for fans who ride their bikes to the festival.

Teams and their riders can be found after the race's conclusion in the parking lot between Third and Second streets.

A block away in Courthouse Square the MBT Lifestyle Festival offers food, entertainment, activities, cycling gear and a giant screen to watch the racing action.

A health and fitness expo, bike safety education and cancer awareness also can be found at this event featuring sponsors traveling to each stage of the tour.

Fans will find even more to do downtown after the race ends. The city is sponsoring a Fourth Street sidewalk event, and Bike Monkey magazine is throwing a block party at one end, both starting at 4 p.m.

"We believe that there's an inherent link between fun and cycling. Having a party at the Tour Of California is only natural," said Greg Fisher, editor of the quarterly publication that also organizes cycling races and events.

With the tour stop falling on a weekday, organizers were seeking ways to keep race fans and downtown workers entertained into the evening.

"We wanted to make sure that they could see the cyclists come in and then stay over and enjoy the party on the streets of Santa Rosa. And we want the businesses to have an opportunity to show off the community," Bryant said.

Fourth Street will be closed between Mendocino Avenue and E Street so merchants can sell goods on the sidewalk. Restaurants will set up outdoor dining as well.

The Bike Monkey block party will be held on D Street north of Fourth Street. The West Coast Goldsprints are the featured activity, giving riders of all ages a chance to hit their top speeds in timed races on stationary bikes.

"It's mostly a prestige thing. You talk a bunch of smack and then you lay it all out in front of everybody on a big stage," Fisher said.

A disc jockey will entertain the crowd, a beer garden is offered, and bike vendors will set up. There will be T-shirt giveaways and a drawing for a racing jersey.

Valet bike parking for all events is available on D Street between Third and Fourth streets throughout the day.