Update: Stage 1 of the 2011 amgen tour of california to start at 1:15 p.m. PST
"After monitoring weather conditions overnight and this morning, while consulting with public safety and race team officials, organizers of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California have announced that the current and projected weather conditions will allow Stage 1 of the race to start at 1:15 p.m. PT at the original start line in South Lake Tahoe. Race officials will continue to pay close attention and monitor the course and all other conditions. If at any time it is determined to be unsafe to continue, the race will be neutralized."
Amgen Tour of Califonria race organizers announced this morning that they would shorten stage one from 191km to roughly 80km, with several hours delay, and the stage pushed back to 1:15 pm PDT in South Lake Tahoe. They made the decision based on the safety of the riders after overnight snowfall combined with freezing temperatures made for dangerous race conditions.
AEG Sports President, Andrew Messick, told Cyclingnews that the morning wind chill was 10 degrees Fahrenheit and, “too cold for the guys to race”. He also noted that if at noon the conditions had not improved, the race would start on Monday in Squaw Valley, which was the original start of stage two.
Today's revised route will have the peloton begin in South Lake Tahoe and race on the west side of Lake Tahoe, along the original course, for a total of 80km and it will finish at the Northstar at Tahoe Resort. The original course was to complete one and half laps for a total of 191km.
Garmin-Cervelo's Jonathan Vaughters spoke with Cyclingnews in the morning, and predicted hard racing if the stage were to go forward.
"I thought it would be a reduced bunch sprint - a long stage on a sunny warm day I think it would have been a Thor [Hushovd] versus [Peter] Sagan sprint from a 50 rider peloton. The way it is, it could be different: a short stage, going right over the climb, I think the group will be smaller and it will be more aggressive because everyone wants to stay warm."
Vaughters, a Colorado native, is no stranger to riding in cold conditions, but he said the wet roads and icy wind will make for uncomfortable conditions for the riders.
"This is going to suck, I can tell you," he said motioning to the wet pavement. "It's not the air temperature, it's the cold icy spray. I've ridden in Colorado down to freezing when it's dry, but this..."
The predicted winter weather was discussed amongst race organizers and officials, teams and riders for several days leading into the stage one start. However, the previous day’s sunny and warm climate made it hard to believe that such a prediction would become a reality.
Several contingency plans were developed depending on the severity of the predicted winter storm. Race organizers sent out a pre-race press release on the eve of the race start that stated they would make a final decision on the stage parcours at 9:00 am, one and half hours prior to the originally scheduled race start.
One of the contingency plans discussed in the opening press conference was to shorten the stage to include racing on only one side of the Lake Tahoe, the east side, which is lower elevation and even as sever as cancelling the stage. A prologue was also rumoured to be a contender for the revised stage one.