NOVI LIGURE, Italy (VN) — Bad weather could shape the 2019 Giro d’Italia as it heads to its first mountain stages Friday. Rain and cold temperatures are due to fall on the peloton, which must climb roads as high as 2,247-meters at the weekend.

Already, rain and colder than normal temperatures have fallen on the first half of the Giro d’Italia. Every day, sprinkles or showers have dampened the spirits. Wednesday’s 221-kilometer stage to Novi Ligure seemed to be the sole sunny exception.

“For everyone, this is s**t,” said Enrico Battaglin (Katusha-Alpecin). “There are some riders who suffer less and some riders who suffer more, and that makes a difference. In your mind, when you see bad weather, you’re not able to fight.”

The forecast shows rain and 45°F as a high on Friday.

“Unfortunately, this bad weather makes it difficult, but it’s part of cycling,” said race leader Valerio Conti (UAE-Emirates). “We already have had our share. And we are due to have more. I hope that the forecast changes.

“Always, the winner is the strongest; above all, the one who’s motivated to do well. The more difficult the conditions are, the more you need mental strength…You will have more stress, and you need to stay more attentive.”

Conti leads the race ahead of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), who is considered the race favorite. Roglic holds an advantage of 1:44 over Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), 1:55 on Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), 2:18 on Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), and over 3 minutes on Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Miguel Angel López (Team Astana) and Mikel Landa (Movistar).

“It can be hell,” said Landa. “In the high mountains, you can have rain or snow, maybe it can change the race. It makes it harder. You don’t recover well, you feel more pain in the legs every day.”

Riders like Nibali might try to exploit the weather in an attempt to dislodge Roglic.

“Bad weather days always make hard racing even harder, so the GC rider that succeeds is going to have to handle that well,” explained Chad Haga (Sunweb). “Bad weather favours opportunities. If you can leap at the chance and make good on it, you can really make some gains.

“There’s the skill in bad weather but also just that the weather will distract the other guys and dampen the mood,” he added. “If you stay on top of it, it can pay off.”