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PISMO BEACH, California (VN) — The first three stages of the Amgen Tour of California may have been contested in warm, sunny conditions, but that’s about to change.
During Wednesday’s Stage 4, from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach, the peloton will again see mild, temperate weather. But come Thursday, the forecast for the stage from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita holds a 50 percent chance of rain — and that’s just the beginning of what’s to come.
The current forecast for Stage 5, held Friday in Big Bear Lake — at nearly 7,000 feet of elevation — calls for a high of 37F, a low of 27F, and an 80 percent chance of snow. The forecast calls for snow to begin falling around 4 p.m. on Thursday, with eight to 12 inches expected on Friday.
It’s a forecast that has the Amgen Tour abuzz with concern about the potential implications, both for the athletes and the traveling race caravan.
Holding a time trial in cold, snowy conditions brings its own set of hazards, but the bigger question is whether or not team vehicles, and race infrastructure, will even be able to arrive in Big Bear Lake on Thursday evening and Friday morning.
A large percentage of the race will be spending Thursday night in Santa Clarita, at 1,200 feet elevation.
If roads into Big Bear Lake are snowy, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) will almost certainly require four-wheel drive, or chains, in order to complete the drive from Highway 330 to Highway 18 (Big Bear Blvd.
Reached for comment Tuesday evening, Kristin Bachochin Klein, Senior Vice President of AEG Sports and Executive Director of the Amgen Tour of California, told VeloNews that she, along with race director Jim Birrell of Medalist Sports, was “aware of potential weather issues” for Friday’s stage.
“As always, the primary concern for the Amgen Tour of California is safety for the riders, teams, staff, and fans. That is our utmost priority. At this time, no decisions have been made. We haven’t released anything yet.”
The last time the Amgen Tour had to cancel a stage was the opening stage of the 2011 edition, held in South Lake Tahoe, due to a late-season snowstorm. The following day, the stage start in South Lake was moved to lower elevation, in Nevada City, on 12 hours notice.
Asked about a possible contingency plan for Friday’s time trial, Bachochin Klein said “no decisions have been made.”
“We work closely with our cities,” she said. “We’re evaluating, as always, the possibility of a contingency plan, but no decisions have been made. We’ll continue to monitor the weather, and we’ll continue to work with our team, and with local cities, and we’ll continue planning.”
Friday’s 15-mile men’s time trial is set to begin at 12:47 p.m., following the women’s invitational, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
I have never even seen snow chains on car tires, so how am I supposed to know how to put them on my TT bike? pic.twitter.com/jEa4hPZf65
— Jacquelyn Crowell (@jacrowell88) May 13, 2015