Storm could change Amgen tour route, officials say | SierraSun.com

Storm could change Amgen tour route, officials say

Adam Jensen
Sun staff
Adam Jensen/Sierra SunAmgen Tour of California Race Director Jim Birrell discusses contingency plans for Sunday's race at a Thursday press conference following predictions of one to three inches of snow by the National Weather Service.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; Whether stage one of the Amgen Tour of California will take place as planned will be a race time decision, according to officials with the tour.

A storm moving into the Lake Tahoe region Saturday night could make road conditions too dangerous for the dozens of professional cyclists expected to make one and a half laps of Lake Tahoe before finishing at Northstar-at-Tahoe Sunday.

On Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service was predicting a high of 40 with a 90 percent chance of snow Sunday. One to three inches of snow is expected at lake level.

The race will be and#8220;all systems goand#8221; if roads are wet, said Race Director Jim Birrell at a Thursday press conference. If snow begins sticking to the road or ice forms, race organizers will discuss options with area law enforcement agencies and road departments, Birrell said.

and#8220;It’s part of doing what we do,and#8221; Birrell said.

Shortening or altering the route to avoid the sections where snow is likely to accumulate are possibilities if Sunday’s storm is significant enough to effect rider safety, Birrell said.

Safety is a and#8220;paramountand#8221; concern of race organizers, Birrell said.

Organizers will meet Saturday night to receive the latest weather information and discuss contingency plans if necessary, Birrell said.

A final decision on moving forward with the race as planned won’t be made until Sunday morning, Birrell said.

and#8220;It’s going to be where the weather pattern is and the effects it has on the road,and#8221; Birrell said.

An update on race plans should be posted to the race’s website, http://www.amgen

tourofcalifornia.com, Saturday night.

While race organizers were keeping a close eye on the weather Friday, competitors at Thursday’s press conference sounded largely unfazed by the likelihood of stormy weather.

Team Type 1 Sanofi-Aventis rider Ben King reminded Thursday’s audience that cyclists race in all kinds of weather.

Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Andrew Talansky deferred to race organizers about how the race should be run given the possibility of stormy weather, He noted all racers are subject to the same weather conditions and said the storm’s effects could be as little as putting on a few extra layers of clothes.

Following a question about the risks of riding slick roads at high speeds surrounded by other racers, three time tour winner and Team RadioShack rider Levi Leipheimer noted competitors tend to self-regulate when it comes to the added danger of riding downhill on wet roads.

and#8220;The group, for the most part, is experienced enough to know how much risk to take,and#8221; Leipheimer said.

BMC Racing Team member Taylor Phinney was the most gung-ho about the possibility of inclement weather Sunday, taking a stance more commonly found among skiers and snowboarders at Lake Tahoe.

and#8220;Bring it on,and#8221; Phinney said.