UPDATE: 1:25 P.M, Sunday, May 15, 2011 — Organizers abandoned plans to go ahead with a shortened Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California and canceled the race due to inclement weather.
Snow showers and high winds were sweeping across the route. Race officials had earlier delayed the ride by nearly 3 hours and shortened the route. [Photo shows intermediate sprint site this morning in Tahoe City.]
CyclingNews reported that a group of cyclists staged a protest and refused to ride in the conditions. Race president Andrew Messick apparently talked to the cyclists as everyone lined up at the start line ready to go.
There aren't a lot of facts right now, but this will make for interesting reading later on when the full story comes out.
Originally, the race was to start at 10:30 a.m. Due to snow and freezing temperatures, the start was delayed until 1:15 p.m. The route was shortened to 50 miles along the west side of Lake Tahoe, instead of a full loop. It was still scheduled to end in North Star at about the same time.
Stage 2, from North Lake Tahoe to Sacramento, is scheduled to start at 10:15 a.m. Monday. Of course, weather conditions may play a role again.
Noon statement from the organizers.
May 14, 2011 — A few years ago when the Amgen Tour of California organizers moved the dates of the bicycle race from February to May, they explained that late spring temperatures would open the snowy Sierra Nevada to cycling.
But here we are on the day before the Stage 1 bike race around Lake Tahoe, and weather forecasters are calling for three inches of overnight snow.
Temperatures at the start in South Lake Tahoe (el. 6,300 feet) and finish in Northstar are expected to dip to as low as 23 degrees Saturday night/Sunday morning. Temperatures will rise to the low 30s during the day with gusting winds on the ridges.
Race director Jan Birrell told a press conference on Friday that organizers will be looking at several options before the 10:30 a.m. start on Sunday, such as altering the course.
The bike race is essentially a 118.7- mile route around Lake Tahoe then a climb over 7,200 Brockway Summit on Highway 267 to Northstar.
Check the Amgen Tour of California website for latest details, especially if you plan to see the race in person.
Meanwhile, Bonnie Ford writes at ESPN.com — “Tour of California can't get a break.”