Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Amgen Tour - Tahoe Stage

 This just in from the Amgen organizers.
Due to severe and unsafe weather conditions in the Lake Tahoe area, the start of Stage 1 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California has been delayed.

If the weather improves, a shortened stage will be started at 1:15 p.m. PT. We will continue to monitor the weather conditions and state of the roads and make a final decision at noon PT, with the riders’ safety as our number one priority.

The new route will continue to take the riders from South Lake Tahoe to North Star up the west side of Lake Tahoe. The stage will be approximately 50 miles. There will be no changes to the timing or the finish line at North Star. The Lifestyle Festival at North Star will open at noon PT as scheduled with the Amgen Breakaway Mile also remaining on-schedule for 2:30 p.m. PT
This is really hard to understand. For 2 hrs of riding, where nothing will be decided, the riders have to brave freezing (literally, when considering wind chill) conditions, with possible black icing on the Emerald Bay descent? There's 3-6" of snow on the ground in Tahoe, with temps still dropping. Total lunacy running this stage today, especially after Wouter Weylandt's fatal crash in the Giro.

I thought the obvious solution was to run stage #3 today, and do the Tahoe stage on Thursday when it warms up. In essence, shuffle the order of the stages as follows.

  • Stage 3 today - forecast highs in low 60s with some rain
  • Stage 2 Monday (start in Tahoe basin)
  • Stage 4 Tuesday - forecast highs in low 60s with some rain
  • Stage 5 Wednesday - high 50s with a 20mph cross and  tailwind off the Pacific to rest tired legs
  • Stage 1 in Tahoe Thursday in sunny, 55 degree temps
It's light out until 8:00pm, so just start the stages at noon when rain is forecast to let the air warm up a little and let the riders enjoy the cold on Stage #4 when they will be climbing. Delaying a decision until this morning made any new arrangement of stages impossible. Better yet, since they've had a week to work on a contingency plan, why not hold a TT in San Diego today under sunny skies and 65 degree temps, run stages 6, 7, and 8, and then come back to Northern California?

It's a good thing our generals don't suck this bad at decision-making. A week for contingency planning, and this is what they're going with? Thunderously stupid!!!


Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

My word ....the weather is crazy! This should be intesting.

Grey Beard said...

Thankfully, the riders revolted, and refused to ride. There's no way to do a safe descent in icy conditions when your hands are frozen.

It's impossible for the stronger riders to put any power down when the road is that slick, because the back wheel just slips. Also, these guys are skinny as rails, so they'd freeze to death on 40mph descents in 40mph winds.

I do think they could have made a really nice stage if they'd started in Minden, NV, just over the hill to the east, and made the course the climb of Kingsbury Grade, finishing in South Lake Tahoe on Casino Row.

Stage #2 today would be so much better if started here in Sacramento and finishing in Tahoe. Instead of a freezing descent, it would be a massive climbing stage where the stronger riders and teams would be able to separate themselves so there'd be a reason to ride hard, and to a ~ warm finish.

In general, when it's cold, make it a slow climbing stage, not a fast, freezing descent to a meaningless finish. I'm pretty sure the riders, and even some alternate high-tech sponsors down south would have greatly preferred a TT in San Diego.

We have so many beautiful mountains here in California. I'm very disappointed for the riders that May is still not late enough, in extreme years like this were we've had 250% of normal rainfall, to ride them reliabally as part of the ATOC.