ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) — South Australia’s extreme heatwave conditions have forced Santos Tour Down Under organizers to shorten Thursday’s third stage from Glenelg to Victor Harbor.
With temperatures forecast to climb above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), race director Mike Turtur said the distance of the stage had been reduced by 26 kilometers or two laps of the final circuit.
“The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators, and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern,” Turtur said in a statement. “We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) and with our Chief Commissaire, and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance.”
Officials also cancelled an annual mass-participation public event set for Friday and rescheduled Friday’s fourth stage to start an hour earlier. Cooler temperatures are expected over the weekend.
Hansen said, “It’s a shame for the fans that they will see [two] fewer circuit, but I think it’s the right decision to reduce the stage today. It’s important to consider the health of the riders. In heat like this, a little bit shorter will not change the outcome of the race.
Australian Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) leads the general classification over his teammate Daryl Impey with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy third overall. Thursday’s stage is expected to end in a sprint finish.