Morbegno, Italy (AFP) – Heavy rain interrupted Friday’s 19th stage of the Giro d’Italia following protests by the riders in the face of difficult weather conditions.
Friday’s stage, the longest of the 2020 Giro, was planned to be a flat 258km ride between Morbegno and Asti, but was reduced by more than 100km after riders revolted when faced with pelting rain in the northern region of Lombardy.
Just 8km into the stage, the action was then stopped due to the deteriorating weather, and organizers scrambled to redesign the stage. The stage had already been lengthened by 5km on Thursday following the collapse of a bridge.
Riders piled into team cars and buses and drove down the route. The race was restarted in Abbiategrasso, with 124.5km to go, after an hours-long delay.
Riders were not happy about the long, flat stage, and began making noises about having the stage reduced after the weather worsened with cooler temperatures and rain. The rider’s group CPA also pressured organizers to alter the route.
New leader Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), speaking before the original stage start, said the long route wasn’t expected to produce any changes in the overall picture.
“It feels amazing to wear [the maglia rosa]. It’s pretty special, the kit, the color: it’s beautiful,” Kelderman said. “It’s not the perfect day so I can’t show all the color, but for me it’s fine, it’s already a dream that comes true, and to wear this jersey will be special.
“What do I think? 250km, flat stage. No one is interested in today, I think only the sprinters,” he said. “It’ll be a super long day actually, 250K and rain and flat. That’s also racing so we need to come through.”
Thanks to the jury and the #Giro organiser for listening to #CPA request. The #health is the priority, especially in this #COVID period. Reducing today's stage will not diminish the show, but will allow the immune defenses of the #riders not to be put at greater risk.📸Monguzzi pic.twitter.com/1ZKmVq8CdR
— CPA Cycling (@cpacycling) October 23, 2020