Weather claims 1st stage

February 15, 2009 

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SANTA ROSA -- What a mess.

Cold, windy, rainy conditions created plenty of problems Sunday for the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California cycling race.

With their airplane grounded because of icy conditions, race officials couldn't communicate as effectively as they normally do, and video of the race was limited to late in the competition.

"It's never happened," race director Jim Birrell said of the airplane's grounding. "It's happened in (the Tour of) Georgia. Not here."

Poor conditions also prompted race officials not to count time in the stage-ending three laps around a 3.1-mile circuit in Santa Rosa toward the overall standings. That decision was communicated to the teams about 80 miles into the race, Birrell said.

"When we saw the weather was not improving, we had to make a decision," he said, citing a crash on the closing circuit in Santa Rosa.

FAHLIN TAKES CRITERIUM -- Emilia Fahlin of Team Columbia-Highroad won the Santa Rosa Women's Criterium on Sunday, outsprinting Team Tibco's Lauren Tamayo to the finish line in rainy, slick conditions.

Fahlin and Tamayo were timed in 59 minutes, 14 seconds, one second ahead of Proman's Rachel Lloyd, Sugar CRM's Karla Kingsley, Touchstone Climbing's Sara Bamberger and Colavita's Kelly Benjamin.

"Getting the win here today was really, really fun, a good way to start the season," Fahlin said.

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