Old Highway 40 on Wednesday. Photo: David Bunker
Old Highway 40 on Wednesday. Photo: David Bunker

Amgen Tour of California officials are preparing for the worst as forecasts call for a late spring snowstorm to descend on the start of the eight-day race in South Lake Tahoe, California.

National Weather Service forecasts for the Lake Tahoe area call for lows near freezing Saturday night and highs just above 40° Fahrenheit Sunday, with snow likely. Conditions are expected to worsen at higher elevations, particularly near the Brockway Summit KOM southeast of Truckee.

AEG president Andrew Messick told VeloNews Monday that rider safety was his top priority if the weather turns bad.

“The long-term forecast I saw said it will be in the 60s over the weekend, but I think every hour that changes,” said Messick. “We’re not going to get too worked up about it. We’ll make sure we protect the safety of the athletes, that is always a top priority, as long as it is safe to ride, we’ll ride.”

Officials from AEG and Medalist Sports will meet Wednesday to discuss options for Sunday’s opener. Sources close to the situation told VeloNews that there would be a myriad of options on the table Sunday in the instance of snow, including shortening the stage.

Messick declined to comment on specific alternatives.

This would not be the first time the Amgen Tour has been affected by snow. In 2009, when the race was held in February, Francisco Mancebo took a stage win in miserable rain/snow conditions after escaping in the mountains near Calistoga. Four days later the stage finishing in Clovis narrowly avoided a race-day re-route when crews cleared snow on Crane Valley Road.

With four descents — two from the Emerald Bay KOM, and one each of the Spooner and Brockway Summit KOMs — Sunday’s 191-kilometer route around Lake Tahoe is not without difficulty.

Stay tuned to VeloNews.com for more on this developing situation.

— Neal Rogers contributed to this report