Update, 2:25 p.m.: Here's the official statement from the tour people, complete with Levi Leipheimer's statement to the crowd at the start line:
Due to extreme weather conditions and potentially unsafe roads, Stage 1 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California was cancelled just before the riders, who were lined up at the start, were about to begin the race.
“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 cancelled, three-time Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer addressed the crowd from the sign-in stage and said:
“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. We still have a full week of racing ahead of us, so we want to make sure everyone is healthy. 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 race will continue as planned tomorrow, Monday, May 16, beginning with a neutral start lap through Squaw Village at 10:15 a.m. PT and heading to the finish in Sacramento.
Update, 1:45 p.m.: Here's something that's suggestive of the the riders' role in shutting down the stage today. Levi Leipheimer, leader of Team RadioShack, had this to say via Twitter:
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 [Tour organizers] for supporting this decision. We all hope the fans understand
Update, 1:30 p.m.: Well, the rotten weather finally proved stronger than the organizers' determination to have a race today. The revised 1:15 p.m. start time came and went, rumors went whirling through the start area and Internets that many riders wanted no part of the Bicycles on Ice extravaganza that awaited them, and the stage was canceled. A commenter noted just before 1 p.m. that heavy snow was falling at the finish area at Northstar.
One other note about riders' motivation: The start was to have been marked by a rolling tribute to Wouter Weylandt, the racer killed last week at the Giro d'Italia. That tragedy had to have weighed heavily on many of those who would have put their bodies on the line today.