Snow forces cancellation of Tour of California opening stage (+ 1988 Gavia video)
Delay to start and shortened course fail to save day as organisers put rider safety first
The Amgen Tour of California, due to start yesterday, has been cut from eight to seven stages after organisers were forced to cancel yesterday’s opening stage due to snowfalls around Lake Tahoe. The original 118.7-mile stage from South Lake Tahoe to Northstar had already been cut to 49.2 miles and the start delayed by nearly three hours before the decision was taken to abandon it altogether, just one minute before racing was due to get underway.
When the race was moved to May from its usual slot of February/March 12 months ago, bringing it into conflict with the Giro d’Italia in the calendar, one of the reasons given by organsisers for their decision was to guarantee good weather, but nature clearly wasn’t to be thwarted.
Following a week in which rider safety has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds in the cycling world following Wouter Weylandt’s death in the Giro d’Italia, organisers weren’t prepared to take risks, however.
"We were monitoring weather conditions up until the predicted 1:15 p.m. start time, and we just couldn't safely put the riders out on the course with the current forecast," explained Andrew Messick, president AEG Sports, which owns the race.
Today's Stage 2 is due to cover 133.2 miles from Squaw Valley to Sacramento, with live coverage on ITV4 from 9.30pm to midnight, although again it is possible that the weather may affect at least the early part of the stage.
News of the cancellation of yesterday's stage due to snow evoked memories of Andy Hampsten’s epic ride to take the maglia rosa during a snowstorm on the Passo di Gavia on his way to overall victory in the 1988 Giro d’Italia – the stage itself was won by the Dutch rider Erik Breukink – and you can relive that day in the video below.