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Gamble on High Sierra a bust for Amgen Tour of California

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A snowman holds a sign along the race route on Highway 89 after stage one of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California from South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe was cancelled

A snowman holds a sign along the race route on Highway 89 after stage one of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California from South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe was cancelled
(Image credit: AFP)
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Ice buildup like this would have been disastrous on the skinny-tired road bikes

Ice buildup like this would have been disastrous on the skinny-tired road bikes
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Traction got to be an issue as the snow continued

Traction got to be an issue as the snow continued
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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At least one local rider tried out the slick roads on his mountain bike

At least one local rider tried out the slick roads on his mountain bike
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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As the elevation got higher so did the amount of snow

As the elevation got higher so did the amount of snow
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Getting closer to Northstar snow began to accumulate on the road

Getting closer to Northstar snow began to accumulate on the road
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Getting past Emerald Bay brought the moto crew into even harsher weather

Getting past Emerald Bay brought the moto crew into even harsher weather
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Things start to deteriorate just a little

Things start to deteriorate just a little
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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The race motos head out on the transfer from South Lake Tahoe to Northstar under not too bad of conditions

The race motos head out on the transfer from South Lake Tahoe to Northstar under not too bad of conditions
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) done for the day and heading towards his hotel

Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) done for the day and heading towards his hotel
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Ted King (Liquigas) all bundled up for a quick interview before the race

Ted King (Liquigas) all bundled up for a quick interview before the race
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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The race motos are done for the day

The race motos are done for the day
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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After some discussion the race motos find shelter at the local fire station

After some discussion the race motos find shelter at the local fire station
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Blue skies at the start did make it seem like things could turn around

Blue skies at the start did make it seem like things could turn around
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Riders bundled up and waiting for the start

Riders bundled up and waiting for the start
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) didn't seem to mind the chilly start

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) didn't seem to mind the chilly start
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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There is a Leopard Trek rider under there somewhere

There is a Leopard Trek rider under there somewhere
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Riders get in on the discussion about whether or not to race today

Riders get in on the discussion about whether or not to race today
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Team directors explain their concerns about today's stage

Team directors explain their concerns about today's stage
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek) bundled up and ready for the day

Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek) bundled up and ready for the day
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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This might make for a better broom wagon if the race goes over Donner Pass on stage 2

This might make for a better broom wagon if the race goes over Donner Pass on stage 2
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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The little bit of snow accumulation at today's start didn't look too bad

The little bit of snow accumulation at today's start didn't look too bad
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Thanks to race officials, crew and especially the North Tahoe fire crew everyone either didn't go out today or made it in safely

Thanks to race officials, crew and especially the North Tahoe fire crew everyone either didn't go out today or made it in safely
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Riders roll out and promptly roll back to the team hotels

Riders roll out and promptly roll back to the team hotels
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Team directors and race organizers discuss their concerns about racing today

Team directors and race organizers discuss their concerns about racing today
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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The riders would not have liked these temps at all today

The riders would not have liked these temps at all today
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Knowing he can't stop on the icy roads anyhow, the chap at the rear left all his brakes at home.

Knowing he can't stop on the icy roads anyhow, the chap at the rear left all his brakes at home.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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Hundreds of fans lined the KOM at Emerald Bay, but their wait was in vain.

Hundreds of fans lined the KOM at Emerald Bay, but their wait was in vain.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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The riders never saw this climb above spectacular Lake Tahoe.

The riders never saw this climb above spectacular Lake Tahoe.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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While six photo motos went down on this stretch of the race course, the riders never saw it.

While six photo motos went down on this stretch of the race course, the riders never saw it.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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Today was a day for knobbied tires, that's for sure.

Today was a day for knobbied tires, that's for sure.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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The winners' stage at the Northstar ski resort didn't get any use today.

The winners' stage at the Northstar ski resort didn't get any use today.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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This California Tourism bear choose the wrong attire for stage one.

This California Tourism bear choose the wrong attire for stage one.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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These one-year-old twins were delighted to be at the finish in Northstar.

These one-year-old twins were delighted to be at the finish in Northstar.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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Bagpiper Sean Cummings lives in Lake Tahoe and brought some Scottish spirit to the finish line, which was crowded with people even though the race was cancelled

Bagpiper Sean Cummings lives in Lake Tahoe and brought some Scottish spirit to the finish line, which was crowded with people even though the race was cancelled
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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Photographers along the course braved frigid weather above Lake Tahoe, but will have to wait until stage two to get panoramic shots of the field.

Photographers along the course braved frigid weather above Lake Tahoe, but will have to wait until stage two to get panoramic shots of the field.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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A wee blizzard didn't keep cyclists from riding out to the day's first KOM above Emerald Bay.

A wee blizzard didn't keep cyclists from riding out to the day's first KOM above Emerald Bay.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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Stage one of the Amgen Tour of California was best spent on a sleigh.

Stage one of the Amgen Tour of California was best spent on a sleigh.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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There are BMC team bike racks somewhere under here.

There are BMC team bike racks somewhere under here.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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At the start, some fans from Seattle, Washington wonder for the TV cameras if they brought the precipitation with them.

At the start, some fans from Seattle, Washington wonder for the TV cameras if they brought the precipitation with them.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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The morning of stage one, Garmin-Cervelo mechanics prep the team's bikes.

The morning of stage one, Garmin-Cervelo mechanics prep the team's bikes.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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Spring buds are popping on the trees, but winter fell from the sky today.

Spring buds are popping on the trees, but winter fell from the sky today.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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It takes more than a Sierra Nevada snowstorm to discourage the Tour of California's army of workers.

It takes more than a Sierra Nevada snowstorm to discourage the Tour of California's army of workers.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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Ryder Hesjedal leads Paris-Roubaix winner Johnan Van Summeren back to the hotel after a breakfast prepared by a team chef. This is Van Summeren's second visit to the US; his first was a family visit to California when he was 13.

Ryder Hesjedal leads Paris-Roubaix winner Johnan Van Summeren back to the hotel after a breakfast prepared by a team chef. This is Van Summeren's second visit to the US; his first was a family visit to California when he was 13.
(Image credit: Mark Johnson/www.ironstring.com)
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The news that no-one wanted to hear is conveyed on the motorbikes.

The news that no-one wanted to hear is conveyed on the motorbikes.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Despite the snow, the fans were out in and ready for the start of stage one.

Despite the snow, the fans were out in and ready for the start of stage one.
(Image credit: AFP)
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George Hincapie chats to Andrew Messick at the start.

George Hincapie chats to Andrew Messick at the start.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Jonathan Vaughters was one of the team managers adamant that the race should be called off.

Jonathan Vaughters was one of the team managers adamant that the race should be called off.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Andy Schleck was bundled up, but ready to race.

Andy Schleck was bundled up, but ready to race.
(Image credit: AFP)

The organisers of the Amgen Tour of California thought the move to May would allow them to showcase some of the most spectacular scenery of the state, and few places are as photogenic as Lake Tahoe with its majestic peaks soaring above the 6200 foot high lake. However, no images of the peloton racing came from stage 1 as a late spring storm forced the cancellation of the first day of racing.

The call came at literally the last minute, as the lead vehicles rolled out from South Lake Tahoe, the voice came over the race radio to hold for an update on the race. A moment later, it was announced that the riders had decided not to race.

Race organiser AEG clarified at the press conference that the decision was made with the teams, riders and technical staff, with Medalist Sports head Jim Birrell declaring the stoppage after clearing it with AEG.

"As we said from the outset rider safety has and will continue to be our number one priority," said Birrell. "As we were getting into the window for starting the stage, we were getting information from our course director who had been out on the road and our assistant technical director who were in constant communication with CHP (the California Highway Patrol) and Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) based on the conditions.

"We had a lot of great intel’ coming from the field. Looking at the forecast it was our collective recommendation to come back to Andrew and present the idea of canceling the stage.

"I got the green light and full support from Andrew and his team, and in the end we did the right thing in the interest of rider safety and public safety - with the temperatures in the 28-30 (F) range and 12-14mph winds and a wind chill at 18 degrees - it's not the right environment for these professional athletes to put their lives on the line.

"We also have over a thousand people either at the finish or start line, and volunteers and fixed post officers out in these elements. You have to take that all into consideration when you make the decision.

"The decision was made and we made the right one."

The lack of a race spectacle was an obvious disappointment from the organising committees and fans of the Lake Tahoe region.

"From the perspective of local organising committee we were disappointed, we really wanted to see racing today," said the director of tourism Andy Chapman. "We understand that team and rider and spectator safety are paramount. We are certainly disappointed, but we are fully supportive of those decisions of Andrew and his team."

The forecast calls for continued snowfall on Monday, when the race is scheduled to depart Squaw Valley and crest the Donner Pass en route to Sacramento. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for up-to-date information on the race schedule.