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Extreme Weather Protocol

Professional bike racing is just that, a profession. While there many rules on workplace safety for factories and offices, there are few when it comes to racing down a mountain at 100km/h. Now efforts are underway to make racing safer in extreme weather. The UCI’s Road Commission, prompted by the rider union CPA, is exploring this. Cyclingnews.com explains more.

About time or is the peloton turning soft? Maybe it’s not so binary because the interesting part will be seeing how they might write rules and protocols for something so subjective as when tough conditions become dangerous.

Before you leap to the comments to say “but I rode this morning and it was colder“, remember this is a professional environment we’re talking about rather than an elective ride and also it’s a race too where there are all sorts of rules about what you can wear, pinning on numbers and when you can and can’t eat. It’s already a regulated environment. Exploring rider safety is just the kind of thing a rider union should be doing.

Coping with the cold
Cold weather does make for hard racing conditions but it’s when things turn damp as well that it gets harder. When your clothing is wet the rate of heat loss increases dramatically. It’s why the 2013 Milan-Sanremo was so hard, there was wet snow on the road to the Turchino pass.

Duration matters too. Office workers can smoke a cigarette outside a building in mid-winter as they don’t stand there for long just as a cyclist can cope with a icy rain shower versus six hours of of sleet. To cite Sanremo again if the grim conditions had arrived just in time for the Cipressa and Poggio it would have been ok but mid-race it’s harder.

As for the temperature, again duration matters and so does accuracy. If the temperature on top of the Stelvio is 0.5°C below the minimum temperature threshold but the road up and down are warm enough, what happens, is it ok to sprint over the pass or do we apply a strict neutralisation? And if we’re going to stop the race it has to be because of accurate measurements: who is measuring the temperature, does the race convoy have to include a calibrated weather station because a car thermometer is imprecise? Ideally we’d use some “common sense” but once you start to interpret matters you leave the rulebook behind.

Too Hot
The heat can be as much a risk too. However it’s not as simple as temperature. Humidity can play a part as this affects cooling via perspiration and breathing. Speed matters because the airflow is a big factor in cooling too. Put simply a descent on a hot day is easy, a climb can be infernal. Tennis and athletics are aware of this and sometimes wet-bulb temperature is used to measure heat stress but in cycling the complexities with airflow and the tarmac temperature (on a hot day the road surface can be 60-80°C, enough to fry an egg). Once again there are complexities in measurement and issues about judgement.

Plan B
The calls for alternative plans to be in place are a good idea in theory. Snow on the Stelvio? Then bring out an alternative route? Icy on the morning of the Omloop? Delay the start and move it to somewhere else. Easy sometimes but it can be very difficult, there might be no obvious alternative route.

Who decides?
For argument’s sake, let’s imagine an informed rider union and enlightened UCI create rules that satisfy race organisers too. Unlikely but let’s continue. Picture a race afflicted by bad weather, is it for the commissaires to judge? If so do they have particular weather readings in their car? How can they resist pressure from the race organiser? What if the race organiser tells them there’s no obvious Plan B and its better to race on (“they would say that, wouldn’t they”)? In other words even if we could create written rules, practical implementation is another thing. See the existing UCI rules on riding off the road, on rain jackets, on getting drafts from team cars, on mechanics doing mobile repairs and so on. All are ignored.

But…
So far, so technical. Hot and cold conditions can be tough to race in but quantifying when hard turns to dangerous is the difficult bit. Measurement, duration and exposure matter, making it hard to draft clear and enforceable rules. However there’s a big philosophical point at stake: cycling is defined its embrace of nature and geography. Races cross mountain ranges and rattle across cobbles. Unlike some sports, play isn’t stopped by rain.

There is a danger though that in protecting themselves from the cold the peloton turns its back on what has made the sport so popular. At times the cult of suffering can be overdone, especially for marketing purposes, but the sport has built up a heritage based on races when a rider beat not just the field but nature. We think of Bernard Hinault riding through a snowstorm to win Liège, Andy Hampsten being the best dressed man on the Gavia and Gerald Ciolek winning an interrupted Milan-Sanremo but there are so many other examples to cite from each year. Remove cycling’s image as The Toughest Sport on The Planet and you undo a lot of the branding, it would mark a big shift.

There’s also a missed commercial opportunity, sponsors should be looking to say “our gear helps you get through the cold”. Everyone in today’s peloton has a rain bag and it’s full of effective gear, a far cry from the old days of woollen shorts and polyester “boil in the bag” jackets. Here any discomfort felt by the riders is reduced compared to events past, just read Paul Kimmage’s “Rough Ride” for accounts of riding the Giro where he’d pee on his hands to warm them back up and, the stage done, hotels would run out of hot water… and riders were left to wash their own kit.

Conclusion
I know many will leap the comments to shout “don’t be so soft” and it’s understandable, especially given the sport’s rich history of battles in fierce conditions. But the more nuanced view is that there are all sorts of rules and racing might be better if there was a protocol to follow in case of icy conditions or a searing heatwave. Better to have this than leave it to the whims of a commissaire or worse perhaps, to the peloton patron who decides to shut down the race because he’s got a chill.

It’ll be fascinating to see what comes of this because trying to define what conditions are suitable and when things are too bad is a very difficult exercise, there’s the academic/scientific side to consider alone. We know bad weather when we see it but even this can be temporary, an apocalyptic storm can pass. Quantifying it all and making rules and protocols will be interesting. The fear is that even if the rules or guidelines are sensible, their application during a race won’t be.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Thursday, 19 February 2015, 8:42 pm

    But I rode this morning and it was colder. Don’t be so soft! 🙂

  • Andrew Thursday, 19 February 2015, 8:47 pm

    Have the procedures and protocols the sport has been using up until now not been up to snuff? The Stelvio incident (and Qunitana’s shady 2 minute advantage) aside, I’m not really sure that the sport has many issues with weather. If roads are judged impassable (MSR’s recent snowstorm and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne being snowed off spring to mind from the last couple of years) then organisers have been able to cancel races or modify stages accordingly. Why do we need yet more rules? Even during the Giro’s botched neutralisation it wasn’t immediately obvious that the racing was completely treacherous – as those who raced on regardless showed.

    I’m very dubious that we need any rules more than obvious common sense. We have commisaires and, for all their faults, they do a pretty bang up job as it is. All more rules do is complicate things and provide more grounds for arguments. The only rule we need is that the organiser’s ruling is final.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 19 February 2015, 8:48 pm

      I suppose the Stelvio incident showed it but that day, as well as a lack of rules, we had confused communications and more to make it more complicated.

      • Andrew Thursday, 19 February 2015, 9:02 pm

        But this is a sport where in the past teams have sat on the road and refused to race. Cyclists and team hierarchies are more than capable of protesting if they feel strongly about things. And yet that Giro carried on its merry way, albeit with a few grumbles. I can’t help thinking this is a (cold, wet) mountain out of a molehill.

        • Michael Carcaise Thursday, 19 February 2015, 9:19 pm

          Andrew,
          Leaving it to riders to protest unacceptable conditions doesn’t work. (1) Riders don’t have a process for deciding what conditions are unacceptable. (2) it makes the whole sport look amateurish when they try. (3) There is always one or two riders worth breaking the picket line and racing for the win. If one rider breaks then the whole peloton is forced to race.

          The decision-making ought to be taken out of the hands of the riders (and everyone else) in certain predictable, extremely dangerous conditions.

          • Andrew Friday, 20 February 2015, 1:52 am

            This argument would make sense…. if we had not got to this point without any such rules before now. It beggars my belief that because of basically one incident there is now talk of RULES to make sure something which might never happen again… might never happen again.

            I repeat my point. We have commisaires and race organisers. Let them do their job which seems to have worked for 99.9% of all previous races to my knowledge.

        • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 1:59 am

          “Let them do their job which seems to have worked for 99.9% of all previous races to my knowledge.”

          I guess you only watch Grand Tours?

          http://www.bicycling.com/blogs/boulderreport/forecast-calls-chaos

      • Netserk Thursday, 19 February 2015, 9:15 pm

        If it had been communicated properly (perhaps already in the morning that it would be the case/an option) that the descent wasn’t neutralized, but that the motos would help guide the riders down, then that stage would have been perfectly executed regarding the weather. Imho.

        • Michael Carcaise Thursday, 19 February 2015, 9:23 pm

          Agreed. There were a lot of things that could have been done differently and made the Stelvio stage safer for the athletes, maintained the sporting integrity, and still made an epic spectacle for fans.

          The problem is that there was no plan, and when they hatched a plan (on the fly) it was poorly executed. The aim of a protocol is not to spoil the fun of pro cycling. It is to make the people responsible for athlete safety more seriously consider contingency plans ahead of time, and clue the teams in so it is not total chaos when there is bad weather endangering the peloton.

    • Larry T. Friday, 20 February 2015, 8:52 am

      +1 If it ain’t broke…. This is one of those things someone can point to as having done something, no matter how little it matters in the end. I was at the roadside during LeTour when they declared a mountain stage too cold and snowy, so we watched the riders being driven over the pass with their bikes on the car roof to jeers and sneers from the crowd. Too cold, too wet, too hot? There’s always the velodrome fellows, but good luck with finding a lot of spectators or sponsorship to watch you race there. If they succeed with these silly rules, how long before the course is too bumpy, too steep (up or down) and races can be held only on closed circuits like auto racing tracks?

      • Openmold Friday, 20 February 2015, 10:21 pm

        The slippery slope argument while often used, rarely produces a convincing argument.

  • Ronin Thursday, 19 February 2015, 9:21 pm

    If you’re going to train all winter in the warmth of the sun of Calpe or Adelaide, and you refuse to put on any serious cold weather kit during a race, don’t freakin’ whine when you’re shocked like a mofo in 0-5 degree temps and rain.

  • MD Thursday, 19 February 2015, 10:34 pm

    In underground mining we use Wet Bulb measurements to determine hot working conditions (as suggested in your hot section). Anything over 32 degrees wet bulb is declared to hot to work as the body’s ability to rid its self of heat via radiation is completely inhibited. However we also measure TWL’s (Thermal work limits) (http://goo.gl/9XQ0Y1)
    Which also takes into account wind speed – which is helps the body’s other ability to remove moisture (through wicking sweat and evaporation). Obviously on a bicycle, as long as you are moving your wind speed should be high.
    None of this take into account dehydration – anyone who has experienced it or seen a friend go through full on heat stress (I’m talking full head to toe body cramps, IV drips, cooled plasma pumped directly into the blood stream etc) will realise it is an extremely serious health risk.

  • AK Thursday, 19 February 2015, 10:38 pm

    Does anyone have injury stats related to weather? It’s my impression that big crashes and bad accidents happen just as much in good as in bad weather, but that’s just a gut feeling. If my impressions are right the riders just keep the level of risk the same, so there’s no real improvement in safety by doing things different in bad weather. Going down at 100 kmh in the sun is not necessarily more safe than 30 kmh in driving snow. It is true that at some point it gets awful to watch and there’s no real point in keeping the race going on.
    Sometimes the improvised rules work out pretty well though, like last year’s Giro stage where they neutralized GC for the finishing circuit when it was super slippery, but the ones with the strongest deathwish were still allowed to compete for the stage.

  • BC Thursday, 19 February 2015, 10:42 pm

    If the riders don’t like doing their job because they consider it too dangerous, difficult or hard, they always have the option to climb into a nice warm team car. It is not at all like the office or factory. Although the UCI have belatedly decided to address the problem, the true instigators are that well known rider caring group, the DSs, the group that was happy to encourage doping or see riders doped under the rules of the omarta. They are joined in an unholy alliance by the blame culture induced ideas of the American riders union.

    I agree there have been some isolated instances when cancelling an event might have been the best option, but this should always be the last option. Does anyone really believe a rule book can cover all the possible combinations or conditions likely to be found on the course.

    Beware for what you wish, if you start introducing H&S into bike racing, it will end up not just being about the original rules ? I can think of at least ten areas which I would consider potentially dangerous, but are considered an essential part of bike racing. What is eventually going to happen to these ?

    I am bound to be accused of wanting to watch carnage of all sorts. This is not the case. I simply believe that bike racing takes in the course and the elements. If you don’t like it, maybe the safer and controlled environment of the track would suit !!!!

    • TourDeUtah Thursday, 19 February 2015, 11:24 pm

      The problem with your thinking is that you are not racing in those conditions. You are home parked comfortably in front of your computer with your warm slippers and cup of hot toddy whiole being entertained as you watch these athletes risk life and limb.

      A few years back a stage of the Tour De Suisse was altered due to hail. At the USPro last summer there was an awful day on Kebler Pass on a descent on a dirt road. Or how about the Tour of Cali where guys were riding in polar suits along the PCH.

      Asking riders to endanger themselves for your entertainment is akin toSaddam Husseins son spiking a soccer ball for his entertainment or revenge.

      • Chris Friday, 20 February 2015, 7:19 am

        I honestly don’t believe riding in inclement weather is the equivalent of riding in dangerous conditions. I have personally raced in conditions near freezing (below on occasion) , after making sure your extremities are protected , its not that bad , sure if the conditions do contribute to dangerous conditions such as racing on dirt roads then common sense should prevail , normally the peloton regulates itself over these areas of the course effectively neutralizing themselves. I do wonder if it is a case of riders targeting warmer climes during the off season and then struggling to adapt to what many of the predecessors were able to cope with.

  • BC Friday, 20 February 2015, 12:07 am

    TdU. It’s a bike race, it takes place on the road and in an unpredictable element called weather. These two elements have always provided the basis on which the sport takes place. They are both impossible to change and will prove equally impossible to regulate for.

    You know nothing about my biking background or experiences, so do yourself, and me, a favour by not being so condescending – and completely incorrect in your assumptions.

    If you are incapable of understanding my comment, directed specifically at people like yourself, that I am ‘not interested in carnage’, then there is not a lot more I can say. Your analogy with a ‘son of Saddam Hussein’, illustrates that you have almost completely failed to understand my position. I suggest you go away and study some of the more historically momentous events which have occurred in the past in our sport, and which have given the sport the reputation it now enjoys.

    Your view encapsulates exactly why I urged that caution should be of the utmost importance before embarking down the one way route of ‘rules and regulations’ for H&S in bike racing, Be careful for what you wish.

    • TourDeUtah Friday, 20 February 2015, 6:24 am

      After having reread your initial post, I must apologize, as I misread and misunderstood your post. (was trying to kill ten mins waiting for my flight at JFK)

      You are correct, it is a bike race and weather, road conditions, dogs, tacks, gravel, stupid fans and road furniture are part of the scenario. It is part of why we find great joy in this sport. However, there is a time and a place when the UCI race official and/or the race organizer step in and say, “let’s stop these proceedings and rethink our situation in respect to the safety of the riders.” As opposed to not wanting to disappoint the fan base watching on tv/internet.

      There needs a protocol for team managers and/or designated team captains to go to the race officials and say, “We feel this is dangerous, ill advised or whatever.” The race officials also need to be able make that call before anyone asks, have backup plans, and procedures.

      I was disappointed in the Etoile de Bessage, that in spite of freezing and high wind chill conditions, in spite of the riders begging for a stoppage, the race officials insisted the race continue on. Hell, they were hardly any fans or tv to worry about.

      Been to a lot of races, talked to a lot of riders and they care about safety. They also want radios for safety as well as tactical reasons.

      • Disgruntledgoat Friday, 20 February 2015, 8:30 am

        There’s a couple of points within your post I’d like to query. Not that i’m quarralling with you personally, just questions that popped into my head.

        “There needs a protocol for team managers and/or designated team captains to go to the race officials and say, “We feel this is dangerous, ill advised or whatever.” The race officials also need to be able make that call before anyone asks, have backup plans, and procedures.”

        I read this a lot and I’m not sure why this couldn’t be implemented tomorrow. Just tell the riders in the morning briefing what the process is for raising concerns en route and who will make the decision, ultimately. They all have to respect the decision in the end and away we go.

        As to radios, why not just have the radio for safety and have it managed centrally. Broadcast information on hazards, race situation, crashes etc from a commissaire’s car and all’s well, surely?

        • Disgruntledgoat Friday, 20 February 2015, 8:37 am

          I’ve also participated in one race that was run off in a snow storm with 40mph winds (I suppose you’d call it a blizzard!) which was mercifully flat and one which finished on a very fast and technical descent in a hailstorm. The first was run off without incident with riders unwilling to brave the conditions simply dropping out and the second was utter chaos with riders sliding off the road and over walls.

          In both cases the organiser (different organisers) too the attitude from the car and afterwards that if you didn’t want to race, nobody was forcing you to follow the wheel in front. If you decided the risk was greater than the reward, then you could easily let it go.

          So this brings us back to the “Professional” side of the sport. If organisers have a duty of care to riders, then so do their employers, surely. If a rider is in an environment where he feels that to not push himself to hypothermia or put himself at high risk of serious injury will be detrimental to his continued employment then he will always do it until the risk materialises.

          • TourDeUtah Friday, 20 February 2015, 11:56 pm

            All good points, but my issue is, why hasn’t something been established ?Why are there not protocols and procedures already in place ?

            I’m all for rider safety and my entertainment value : ) )

          • SvdS Monday, 23 February 2015, 5:42 pm

            Fred Whitton 2009?

        • Larry T. Friday, 20 February 2015, 8:59 am

          I laugh at the suggestions the riders know best – the same group who fought so hard against the wearing of hard-shell helmets and ANY sort of dope testing. These guys can see only as far as the end of their own racing career, most of ’em know or care little about what came before or what will come after. Unlike in the past, all the modern riders have to do is pedal the damn bike…pretty much everything else is done for them by others these days!

          • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 11:03 am

            Oh Larry

      • The Inner Ring Friday, 20 February 2015, 9:30 am

        The Etoile de Bessèges stage was interesting as a case study. One rider was picked up by the wind and blown into a ditch and had to quit the race with the injuries so you can see why riders were protesting… but no sooner did the race resume than the wind dropped to more manageable levels. So regardless of what windspeed was recorded, the decision to continue surely needs to take the forecast into account? And here it’s hard to be accurate.

        • Larry T. Friday, 20 February 2015, 6:37 pm

          I’d be curious to know if this rider had equipment appropriate for racing in windy conditions – which would NOT be high-profile, slab-sided “aero” wheels? I just rode today with a guy who took his hands off the bars briefly and almost crashed into me…blaming it on a high-profile “aero” front wheel.

  • TheDude Friday, 20 February 2015, 1:16 am

    Wacky Idea. Segment a one day race into 3 segments. E.g., a 6 hour race in simple maths ends up as three 2 hour races. A break in between, such as half time in American rules football. An logistical challenge to be sure, but can address the long term conditions exposure, and perhaps increase spectator excitement. Of course the epic struggle to survive over a 6 hour event is lost.

    • Disgruntledgoat Friday, 20 February 2015, 8:26 am

      I don’t understand… why?

  • Patrick Friday, 20 February 2015, 2:06 am

    i think the san remo and stelvio examples show that the judgement on when something needs to be done is not too far off.

    however stelvio in particular shows that the “something” needs better definition. it was always known that that stage had a high risk of bad weather so why wasn’t there a clear pre-planned and communicated “plan B”? the communication was an issue but only because they had to communicate on the fly the details of what was happening. if everyone knew in advance that a flag waved or a call on the radios would mean XXX then it would be simple.

    basic project/event management says you assess your risks in advance and come up with contingency plans to firstly attempt to avoid the risks and secondly handle them if they do eventuate.

    such risk planning should be a requirement from the UCI to sanction any event, let alone 2 of the biggest World Tour races. the UCI should be assisting this with some standard contingency options and communication protocols.

  • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 7:30 am

    I’d have thought bad visibility is more dangerous than heat or cold – eg a descent in heavy fog can end careers, whereas a hot or cold day is ‘just’ horrible

  • UHJ Friday, 20 February 2015, 8:04 am

    No more rules, please.
    As @BC states above; it’s a bike race. The very nature of the sport is taking in the nature, the roads and the weather.
    As far as I have experienced (as UCI commissaire); foul weather conditions are handled just fine as it is by riders, organisers and jurys discussing and settling the matter using the common sense approach.
    With a +200 man line-up including DSs, Press etc. some are bound to find any discision ridiculous but Hey! The ruling body of organiser and jury also make some bad decisions once in a while as do riders or DSs. This is all part of the sport or – as the UCI regulations says – it is a “race incident”.
    On weather, surely Daniel Teklehaimanot would not see eye to eye with Alexander Kristoff 😉
    Now go ride, season has started.

  • Disgruntledgoat Friday, 20 February 2015, 8:25 am

    Agree with a lot of the above. Why overcomplicate matters? Just leave it to the commissaires and their team (who presumably have some local knowledge also) to decide if a route is safe to race and trust them to do their job.

    Otherwise we end up with crazy situations like Fabian Cancellara neutralising the Tour de France to benefit his fearty team leaders and Bjarne Riis deciding which mountains the Giro can cross again.

  • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 11:05 am

    I’D REALLY LIKE TO HEAR what a rider has to say in response to us armchair observers saying “deal with it”.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 20 February 2015, 11:10 am

      I suspect it would be “come and follow me down the Stelvio”

      • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 11:43 am

        I’d be honoured. Where do I sign up?

    • Netserk Friday, 20 February 2015, 1:03 pm

      I’d be more interested in hearing Hinault’s opinion.

  • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 11:17 am

    I think I agree with the majority, that there is more to lose by regulating these things than by keeping them as they are.

  • BC Friday, 20 February 2015, 11:42 am

    It is good to see that the majority of posters do not support ‘regulation’. As has been pointed out, there are commissaire’s, organizers and often a race panel available to make ‘on the spot’ decisions, without the formality for rigid written regulation. These individuals have invariably experienced competition.

    In my softer, sillier mode, I still regard a bike race as man and machine against the road and the elements. Simple and understandable. No one makes the man take on that simple challenge, other than himself.

    To the few who support ‘regulation’, consider you might well be encouraging the ambulance chasers, who as sure as day follows night, will end up seeing someone in court. Be careful for what you wish !

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 20 February 2015, 5:32 pm

      Some rules to frame things might help but your “ambulance chasers” does raise the worrying prospect of appeals to CAS involving thermometers and so on.

  • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 4:43 pm

    “I’D REALLY LIKE TO HEAR what a rider has to say in response to us armchair observers saying “deal with it””

    There are some real meatheads in the peloton, but it would be pretty clueless of a rider to come out and defend this idea. They have nothing to gain by coming out in the public and explaining why they want “safer” races. Riders will stay quiet publicly and push behind the scenes.

    Also, fans would soil their chamois after two minutes if they tried to descend a mountain pass at 70 km/hr in 1ºC wearing wet clothes, unable to use their brakes because their hands don’t work. And forget the Giro for a minute, which is worth the risk. Some SSR that isn’t even televised is not worth

    • Anonymous Friday, 20 February 2015, 4:47 pm

      meant to add:
      …crashing in some untelevised SSR is not worth disrupting your TDF build-up (if you are a contender), or your build-up to try to make the TDF squad (if you are the expendable type)

      But the trouble with pro athletes is they don’t make the “right” decision (to climb off and fight another day) in the heat of competition.

      Various pressures — the fact that their boss who pays them is telling them to race, the need to get another contract, the macho culture of pro sport, the desire to deliver for your teammates — make these guys take on bad decisions.

    • AK Friday, 20 February 2015, 10:15 pm

      That’s why the fans watch, isn’t it. To see people do stuff they would soil themselves for trying. Why on earth would I sit in front of my TV to watch a bunch of guys doing stuff I could do just as well?

      • Larry T. Saturday, 21 February 2015, 5:07 pm

        +1 And do it without being driven to the start in a luxury bus complete with shower, massage table and espresso maker after sleeping (I’ll admit not always) in a 4-5 star hotel and having someone else a) wash and service your bicycle b) massage your tired legs c) do your laundry d) cook you a nice meal e) prepare your favorite food items for lunch on-the-go, etc. In other words do pretty much everything for you but ride the bike and wipe your little bottom after poo-poo. The only thing tough these days is the riding of the bike and that’s certainly no harder than back-in-the-day when bikes weighed 20+ pounds and roads were only sometimes paved. Eddy Merckx is right!!!

        • Anonymous Saturday, 21 February 2015, 6:48 pm

          Of course he’s right. I’m surprised no journalists ask riders “looking back at what your predecessors used to do 50 years ago, don’t you feel like a dwarf?”

  • Netserk Saturday, 21 February 2015, 12:03 pm

    With today’s stage in Oman in mind, it does seem like the teams and riders have enough of a say to protect themselves from racing in too dangerous conditions. However surely that is easier in a relatively small and unimportant race compared to if a grand tour organizer insists that the show must go on. Will it then be as easy for teams to stand united with the increased stakes in risk?

    That said, as long as it isn’t truly dangerous, but just very unpleasant, I am of the opinion that a race includes the weather it is in.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 21 February 2015, 2:33 pm

      This is a very good bottom-line. Riders have a credibility problem. A lot of fans (and organisers) suspect they are talking about security when they are just trying to get as much of a less hard ride as they can.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 21 February 2015, 2:39 pm

    Somebody above says “beware of what you wish,” well let’s wake up and look at what we’ve got now. A peloton with an increasing awareness of their power as a collective unit.

    In the absence of rules the peloton will likely self-neutralize and cancel races too often.

    Someday it will be in the best interests of the teams and races to secure “labor harmony” through a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement. Within such a CBA could be certain measures to keep riders from racing in the most extreme conditions. But if those conditions are not triggered, then riders know they will be racing.

    And if riders don’t like the terms of their CBA, they can renegotiate in the off season. Not mid race on the Stelvio.

  • BC Saturday, 21 February 2015, 7:55 pm

    The Cancellara lead non-event in Oman today, where the riders decided the weather was too HOT ! It was very hot, but it’s the Gulf in February FFS. If the objection was the earlier sandstorm there might, just might, be a reason for sympathy. However, it was the temperature at the restart.

    Really, does anyone want to continue watching this pantomime called bike racing ? The sponsors certainly don’t, and the esteemed organizer is pretty pissed off !

    Anon. The ‘beware for what you wish’ is a nod towards the claim culture.

    Today is just another illustration of the total lack of respect the riders and DSs have for sponsors, organizers, fans and press. The very people who’s support gives these chancers the privilege of being a pro. It had little to do with safety.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 21 February 2015, 9:24 pm

      Isn’t today an illustration of why a rule would be good for race orgs and sponsors too?

      Race orgs/broadcasters/sponsors shouldn’t be exposed to the unpredictable whims of the peloton. They should have pre-season agreement from riders: if the conditions are X, you ride. If the conditions are Y, then there are the following possible contingency plans (many of which still include you racing). And if the conditions were too hot for some weak teams’ equipment, then that team might have to miss out on one day.

      These ad hoc committees being convened on the road make the sport look like a big joke. A lot of fans want to keep pro cycling like an amateur sport forever. But bigger forces are pushing/pulling the sport toward a more professional approach. Having contingency plans for this stuff is basic event management.

      The only debate here ought to be the details of the protocol, not whether they should have one. For fans that crave no regulation, you can go watch the Colombian domestic racing scene.

  • The Inner Ring Saturday, 21 February 2015, 10:31 pm

    It was hot in Oman but the principal complaint seems to be safety-related with the tubular glue turning soft in the heat and riders complaining of braking problems. These are technical, chemical problems to be resolved although in that absence you can understand why the riders were concerned.

    For those unfamiliar with the course today the climb and descent of Bousher is a long and steep express road, the kind of road where you’d want to check the brakes on your bike (and car) before descending.

  • BC Sunday, 22 February 2015, 8:20 am

    INRNG. Maybe you have better information than is available to everybody else, but from what I understand ONE of the smaller teams had equipment problems – wheels/tubulars. If true, a little different than all the teams, and certainly not the ring leaders teams.

    Whatever, the usual group of suspects has managed to encourage a wealthy sponsor that their money could probably be better spent elsewhere. Shame that their intellect and vision is so limited.

    The real tragedy here is that most fans have limited interest in these races, which appear to be mainly organized for the ego of the States concerned, and the very people who have managed to bite the hand that feeds them !

  • Anonymous Sunday, 22 February 2015, 10:33 am

    Every team has their own account of what happened, who is to blame or to praise, as they all have their own agenda. So the story surely isn’t as one-sided as some want to make it sound. It wasn’t only Bardiani (although they are the ones running out of equipment, I think). Moviestar had a whole lot of problems with punctures, too. And they are not such a “small” team.

  • H Hudson Monday, 23 February 2015, 11:08 pm

    I think its interesting hearing this element of to hot vs to cold. I work in a bike shop and was watching customers ride in on Sub Zero degree days. Usually the comment to them is you must be out of your mind riding in these conditions. Then on the flip side I see riders riding on days where you could roast an egg on your car windshield. The comment to them is you must be asking for congestive heart failure. I suppose some people prefer the elements and would rather ride in them. People like me i do enjoy it to some degree however you can not beat a cool spring or fall day of riding.

  • cauz. Tuesday, 24 February 2015, 3:20 pm

    Riders are often protesting because of ‘extreme’ conditions, but rarely are acting to fight those conditions. If you look at cold or snowy races around 20 years ago you can see huge jackets, big gloves and so on… now the sponsors force the riders to wear just the last model cool stuff, no matter wich is the weather.
    They are plenty of assistance, cars behind that can be filfulled with warm and dry clothes… but you never see it. That removes sense to their protests, definitely.
    We can see the same thing with technical parts: lenticular wheels in a windy stage, high profile wheels on slippery or frozen roads…
    Maybe if we demand for rules, it can start here: ban of high profile wheels and high-pressur tyres with bad weather conditions (i’d prefer to see a global ban of ultra-high profile wheels at all).
    And start from the calendar also: it is obvious that if you ride the Vuelta at the end august, the south of Spain will be anormally warm. They could also impose to WT races to have a “plan B” that must be approved weekes before: Giro 2013 would have had great benefit from that.