Andrew Messick, President, AEG Sports, presenter of the race
On the weather
"Two years ago, when we decided to move the race from February to May, we did it so we wouldn't get rained on, which was successful, but now we have snow. We have been watching the weather very carefully over past week and developed a number of contingency plans. We made our first decision early this morning at 6 a.m. We talked and it was clear at that point that a more than 100-mile stage in the conditions that we all experienced today would be irresponsible, so we made the decision to postpone."
"We expected from weather forecasts that it would get warmer, the roads would be clear and the conditions for racing would improve. We believed that right until the very end. It was only in the last fifteen minutes that it really became clear that weather conditions were not improving and in fact were getting worse."
"We looked at the condition and safety of the roads and spoke with our race doctor to get his assessment on how the low temperature and 20 mph winds would affect the riders, considering the question of hypothermia. We also spoke at length with teams and riders to get their opinion, and at a quarter to one, we thought we were racing."
"When we realized the weather was not going to improve and was deteriorating, Jim (Birrell) and the technical team made the decision that it was unsafe to race. The only responsible thing to do was cancel Stage 1 of the race. It was a sound decision that AEG fully supports."
"Five miles of the course had substantial accumulated snow and we made the right decision. We are disappointed. You can make the right decision and still be disappointed in the outcome."
"We also talked to a group of riders and they expressed their concern and point of view of riding in these conditions. The consensus was that they trusted us to make the right decision. If we deemed the route safe they would have ridden. We deemed that it was not safe and we feel they were satisfied with this decision."
On the cancellation of Stage 1
"This is the first time we've had to cancel a stage of the race. I feel bad for the people in the Lake Tahoe region who didn't have the chance to view some of the best cyclists in the world. We missed a great race, but I don't necessarily think that there will be a competitive impact on how the race unfolds and who ultimately wins. We have always said we have incredible diversity in terrain and now we have incredible diversity in the weather."
On Lake Tahoe as a host city
"When deciding to have Lake Tahoe host the start of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, we looked carefully at weather patterns up here in May as part of the decision-making process with the local organizing committee. The likelihood of severe winter weather in May was statistically low - we thought it might be cold, rainy and maybe windy, but we didn't contemplate that it would be snowing, cold and windy. Our team and the athletes arrived here in the middle of the week and the weather was fantastic. We would consider Lake Tahoe again to host the race in the future."
On Stage 2 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California
"Honestly, our focus has been on today. Tomorrow we have a number of contingency plans if we again encounter drastic weather conditions. It is likely going to depend on the status of Donner Pass. We have our team up there right now assessing the situation."
Levi Leipheimer (USA), Team RadioShack
On the decision to cancel Stage 1 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California
"We the riders are disappointed about not racing for the fans but we all agreed it was too risky in the ever changing weather. Thank you to AEG and Medalist for supporting this decision. We all hope the fans understand."
Alan Gallopin, Director Sportif, Team RadioShack
On the cancellation of Stage 1
"This morning, when there was so much snow, everyone knew we wouldn't be racing. Riders are worried about their safety in light of what happened last week. Nobody wants to race unsafe. We came in on Monday and experienced nice weather. Friday was good, but with today's weather, the riders didn't feel comfortable racing. They know it is not an easy decision for race organizers to make. Sometimes stages get canceled or changed, but the race still goes on. This was a very good decision for this stage."
Jim Birrell, Race Director, 2011 Amgen Tour of California
On the cancelation of Stage 1
"Rider safety has been, and continues to be, our number one priority. When we got to the window where we had to make a decision to race or not to race, we took the information from our course director and technical director, who had been out since early in the morning and tracking the different areas of the route, into consideration and we had indications that it was not safe to race. We had a lot of great intel coming from the field. After carefully watching the forecast, it was up to our team to discuss canceling the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California."
"We started to receive reports from our team about bad weather on the descents, with the final decent being the most critical. After two and a half hours of riding in inclement weather the cyclists are tired and cold and they don't have the ability to apply their breaks, especially with the carbon bikes. These are elements they have to deal with. The rain really helped us cement our decision. Had the race started, we would have had to cancel the race in the middle."
"Rider safety and public safety is our first priority, and we feel that we made the right decision. We had the right resources, intel and experience to form a decision, and it was right."
"We received full support that we did the right thing for both rider and public safety. It's not the right environment for these professional cyclists to put their life on the line. The decision was made, and we made the right one. It wasn't easy - this is the first time in my 25 years of experience that we had to cancel a stage - but it was the right thing to do."
On why Lake Tahoe was chosen as a host city
"We chose the west shore of Lake Tahoe because, in an ideal world, you look at the lake and our broadcast coverage would have been able to include Emerald Bay, and the decent into Northstar would paint an incredible view of Tahoe."
On the potential adverse weather conditions for tomorrow's Stage
"We have our team focusing on Donner Pass, and that will be critical for making a decision tomorrow. It will be our goal to make a decision by 8 a.m. tomorrow. Our team will contemplate the alternative and then proceed with the option that is best for our riders. Right now we are moving forward with tomorrow as planned, and we will have to react to the weather as it unfolds."
On the photo moto crash on the way to Northstar
"Six of our photo motos crashed on their way down to Northstar, but no one was hurt in the incident. Everyone is safe and on their way here."
Andy Chapman, Director of Tourism, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association
"From the perspective of the local organizing committee (LOC), we are certainly disappointed, mostly for the fans that didn't get to see these world-class athletes compete, but we completely understand that team and rider safety is paramount. Obviously the race organizers worked with the appropriate people on the ground, and we are fully supportive of the decision. We understand why the stage was canceled, and we are glad that we still have seven days ahead of us and a great day of racing scheduled for tomorrow."
Photo by Stephanie Gutowski