Riders stand firm and force stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia to be shortened due to extreme weather

Tadej Pogačar at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.Tadej Pogačar at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.

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The peloton rejected the race organizers’ commitment to make a neutralized start and will now head to the new start of the shortened 121 km stage.

Jonny Largo

Confusion reigned and snow fell on the route of stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia as riders held firm in the face of extreme weather, eventually forcing the day’s course to be shortened to 121km.

The icy and snowy Umbrailpass, the highest peak of this year’s race at 2,498 meters and already replacing the eliminated Stelvio, was scheduled for the start of the stage but was scrapped after riders unanimously agreed not to run at unless the Umbrailpass was taken. off the route of the day.

Stage 16 will now begin at 2 pm local time from Spondigna for a 121km stage passing through the first category Passo Pinei on the way to the second category finish at Monte Pana.

A number of possible contingency plans had been drawn up the day before in case an extreme weather protocol was necessary, with possible neutralization and additional measures, such as allowing a third team car in the race convoy to ensure that the riders had The right clothes. Also discussed was a “parking zone” at the top of the Umbrailpass, which would have neutralized the race for three minutes to allow runners to change clothes.

A Lidl-Trek rider at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.A Lidl-Trek rider at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.

At the start of the stage in Livigno, the race organiser, RCS, maintained that the full route would be completed, but with the race neutralized until after the Umbrailpass, against which the riders protested, before another plan was devised to leave Livigno for 10 km and then jump to the team. cars to head to the new Spondigna start line for the race itself. That suggestion was also not accepted, so all the runners eventually left the Livigno start line in vehicles to head to Spondigna.

Cities, like Livigno, pay money to race organizers to host stage starts and finishes, and contracts will likely include stipulations that if for some reason the stage cannot start or finish in the city as planned, the race will return free the next day. year. Today’s modification will have cost RCS money, which is why they were so keen to have drivers on the road in the departure city as originally planned.

The race director, Mauro Vegni, told the television network RAI after making the decision: “Mountains are like that, sometimes you have to face certain situations. Our decision has certainly not been improvised, it was foreseen in the protocol established yesterday.

“We tried to provide additional safety measures for cyclists, but agreed that if conditions worsened, we would have avoided the Umbrailpass. And that’s what happened, it would have been stupid to take certain risks, especially on relegation.

Hugo Hofstetter at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.Hugo Hofstetter at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.

“Obviously, if you ask cyclists if they like riding in the rain and snow, they will say no. Everyone has their point of view and that is normal. For our part, we hope you are satisfied because we went through all this discussion.”

A little earlier that morning, with the final decision still up in the air, fourth place GC Ben O’Connor (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale) was a little less diplomatic about the prospect of riding in icy conditions and on roads. slippery

“I think it’s probably one of the worst organized races and I’m just being honest. This would never happen in 99% of other situations,” he said. Eurosport.

“It’s a shame that we are in 2024 and there are dinosaurs that don’t really see the human side of things. I would still like to run the stage, but I don’t want to cover more than 2,500 meters. It’s already five degrees and it’s raining heavily and at 2,500 meters it’s already snowing. I think it’s clear that you should start a little lower and finish.

“I would like to see (Vegni) in our position, go out on the bike and take the start of the stage and see what his response is after those couple of hours.”

An anonymous poll conducted by the CPA (22 votes) revealed that 100% of riders voted in favor of skipping the Umbrailpass climb (and descent) the morning before the stage start. “This collective division highlights the seriousness of the situation and the need for immediate action,” CPA President Hansen tweeted. “The runners’ strong stance underscores their commitment to their health, safety and the integrity of the race.”

Scenes from the starting line:

A Polti-Kometa rider at the start of the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia.A Polti-Kometa rider at the start of the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia.
A Polti-Kometa runner tries to keep his feet dry as he heads to the start.
Romain Bardet at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.Romain Bardet at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.
Romain Bardet looks… cold.
Intermarché-Wanty at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.Intermarché-Wanty at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.
Intermarché-Wanty seems cold and miserable.
UAE Team Emirates checking in at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.UAE Team Emirates checking in at the start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.
UAE Team Emirates takes the conditions lightly and also practices a bit ahead of a possible Umbrailpass descent.
The start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.The start of stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.
Cold.

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