Giro d'Italia

Riders’ group addresses Giro d’Italia organizers in open letter: ‘We are not heroes but men’

CPA defends its position after protesting 260km flat stage in the middle of a week of high mountains.

Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia may have run for three hours less than expected, but the story behind the race’s shortened ride into Asti rumbles on.

Just days after riders lead a protest ahead of the 260km stage of this year’s Giro, riders group the CPA has written an open letter to race organizers RCS Sport. The Giro was thrown into a final-hour pandemonium last Friday when riders faced-off with officials in the hours before the stage as they huddled under a rain-soaked tent, arguing the length of the pan-flat parcours, which sat nestled in the midst of a brutal final week of high mountain stages.

Related:

“We were not afraid of rain or cold, we proved it by climbing the Stelvio at the end of October, but yet another show of strength at the end of an exhausting Giro, with a pandemic underway and the little attention for our safety, was in our eyes simply too much for our immune system to face a 260km stage with bad weather,” reads the letter.

The stage fell toward the end of a three-week race that had pushed the peloton to the brink, with riders facing several stages of foul, frozen weather, heightened concern around COVID-19 protocols, and incidents of riders being hit by race motos or having barriers blown into their path by low-flying media helicopters.

“At the height of a difficult and stressful season for everyone, exhausted by the fatigue of the previous days, in which we had accumulated not only more than 15,000 meters in vertical climbs in just 600km but also endless transfers, wakeups at dawn, meals in buses and with the concern not to get sick during these exceptional times of growing emergency due to the worldwide pandemic, the many fears for the present and for the future, we asked that a flat stage of 258 km got shortened by a hundred kilometers,” states the letter.

In the aftermath of the incident, race organizer Mauro Vegni responded with anger having already decided to award no prize money for the stage, instead donating funds to COVID-19 causes.

“It’s an unacceptable decision,” Vegni said on national broadcaster RAI. “Right now, we’re thinking about getting to Milan but then somebody will pay for this.”

The riders’ move to protest the stage made for a landmark moment in rider representation in a season blighted by Fabio Jakobsen’ high-speed crash at the Tour of Poland and ongoing grumbles over the effectiveness of the CPA in raising the grievances of the peloton.

The CPA’s letter balanced its thanks to RCS and other race organizers who have ensured that racing could carry on in the midst of a pandemic, while also highlighting that “we are the ones on the front line … We deserve listening [to], even when we say something you don’t like.”

“We are not heroes as someone may think but men. With strengths and weaknesses and we are concerned for us and our families, for those of our teammates and the staff who work alongside us,” reads the letter.

The CPA’s full ‘Open Letter to the Cycling Family‘ can be read below:

Dear cycling family,

With regard to what happened on the third last stage of the Giro d’Italia #103 we want to explain the reasons for our position. At the height of a difficult and stressful season for everyone, exhausted by the fatigue of the previous days, in which we had accumulated not only more than 15,000 meters in vertical climbs in just 600 km but also endless transfers, wakeups at dawn, meals in busses and with the concern not to get sick during these exceptional times of growing emergency due to the worldwide pandemic, the many fears for the present and for the future, we asked that a flat stage of 258 km got shortened by a hundred kilometers.

We were not afraid of rain or cold, we proved it by climbing the Stelvio at the end of October, but yet another show of strength at the end of an exhausting Giro, with a pandemic underway and the little attention for our safety, was in our eyes simply too much for our immune system to face a 260 km stage with bad weather.

In [the] Morbegno-Asti stage we made a proposal to avoid a major protest which would have had worse consequences for the Giro. We probably could have talked to the organization and the jury first, but so far, every time we have done it, we have not been heard. Not even when there have been serious accidents, when we asked to evaluate the routes, the transfers, the arrivals, and many other situations that turned out to be dangerous to our safety.

Anyway, we don’t want to continue with the controversy. On the contrary, we want to be proactive and underline how with the collaboration between all the stakeholders, cycling can grow, indeed it must grow both in terms of safety and spectacle.

We are the ones on the front line, always, and we are grateful to those who in this very difficult year managed to organize the races and set up the teams, and who together with our efforts and our professional attitude allowed the starting of the 2020 season.

Personally, we have undergone all kinds of checks, we have faced transfers and journeys at the risk of our health and that of our loved ones, we have always given our best, despite flying barriers and motorcycles that touched us as we struggled on our bikes. Fatigue and thoughts have accumulated in our bodies and our souls until they exploded in Morbegno.

We are not heroes as someone may think but men. With strengths and weaknesses and we are concerned for us and our families, for those of our teammates and the staff who work alongside us.

We are happy to have arrived in Paris with the Tour de France, in Milan with the Giro d’Italia, we hope the Vuelta will be able to reach Madrid safely and that in 2021 we will be able to race in all the competitions that have been postponed, from the best known to the least famous. All of them are precious for us and for the whole movement, of which we are the most exposed actors, for better or for worse. We deserve listening, even when we say something you don’t like.

Thanks for listening to us in Morbegno.

The Professional Riders and the CPA