Amgen Tour of California stage one canceled due to weather after all
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Amgen Tour of California stage one canceled due to weather after all

by VeloNation Press at 4:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
 
Mother Nature has the final word on stage one

Michael RogersAmerica's premiere stage race looked set to begin with an abbreviated first stage due to bad weather conditions, but at the last minute organizers have made the painful decision to pull the plug.

“We were monitoring weather conditions up until the predicted 1:15 p.m. PT start time, and we just couldn’t safely put the riders out on the course with the current forecast,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. “We appreciate the support of all the fans that came out to the start line in South Lake Tahoe, and we hope they understand and respect our decision, but when the safety of riders and fans is involved, there is no leeway. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the start tomorrow in Squaw Valley.”

As the race was being called, triple Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer spoke to the crowd from the sign-in stage.  “The riders discussed as a group and we just don’t feel comfortable riding knowing what can happen, especially in light of what happened last Monday," he explained, referring to the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt at the Giro d'Italia.  "We still have a full week of racing ahead of us, so we want to make sure everyone is healthy," he continued.  "With the weather conditions the way they are, racing today is just not possible. On behalf of all the riders, we apologize and appreciate everyone’s support and understanding.”

The delayed start had been planned for this afternoon at 1:15 with a shortened route, but with bad weather persisting, the safest decision for the riders was to call the stage off.

"There was definitely a concern with safety of the course and really fast descents," explained BMC Racing's George Hincapie.  "If its icy, you don't have control of your bike. At the end of the day,they just prioritized safety.  Its really unfortunate for the fans. The way the sport is going, I think it is important that everyone agrees on the final decision and supports the organization."

Not only the veterans were concerned about the safety of the course, even the younger riders felt it was the right choice.

" It was too bad. I felt really bad for the fans who came out and braved the cold weather," Hincapie's young teammate Taylor Phinney said.  "I think it was the best choice for us so we can have seven days of racing."

The new route would have eliminated a portion of a loop around Lake Tahoe resulting an 80 kilometer effort, 111 kilometers less than originally planned.  It featured two KOM contests, one near the finish up Brockway summit, and a sprint in Tahoe City.

The race moved to May last year, and this is the first time since its inception in 2006 that a stage has been canceled.

Press conference quotes courtesy of Robert Nichols - Advanced Pro Cycling Agency

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