There was an accumulation of a couple of inches of snow overnight, more up higher where the riders were to face three climbs, and so the start was postponed until 1:15 p.m. and the course shortened from 118 miles to 50 miles.
And it will head only up the west side of Lake Tahoe. The plan was still for the race to finish at Northstar Lodge in North Lake Tahoe, but that was contingent on not too much more snow. The Lifestyle Festival at the finish will still open at noon, with the Amgen Breakaway Mile also remaining on schedule for 2:30 p.m.
Andrew Messick, president of AEG sports and presenter of the Amgen Tour of California, said, "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."
He said race officials would continue to monitor weather and road conditions and make a final decision at noon.
Riders have been privately nervous since the severe weather forecast became more certain. They are not used to riding in snow that is falling. They will occasionally see leftover snow on mountaintops in Europe during the summer grand tours but it is unusual for cyclists to compete in actual snowstorms.
The ultraslim tires aren't made to race at high speeds in the snow, and imagine 280 well-trained and physically strong bikers trying to make turns, go uphill and down, when it's 30 degrees and they, their bikes and the roads are covered in snow.
This is the sixth year of the ATOC and there hasn't been a day lost to racing yet. But at noon perhaps history will be made. Versus will offer television coverage of the race, scheduled for May 15 to 22.
Ice, snow threatens Amgen Tour of California
Dangers fresh in cyclists minds before start of tour
Graphic: Amgen Tour of California Stage 1
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Levi Leipheimer, Markel Irizar and Ben King (from left to right) of Team Radio Shack take a training ride on Saturday in South Lake Tahoe in preparation for the Amgen Tour of California. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images