The Extreme Weather Protocol

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Paris Nice snow

New for 2016 is the UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol, a rule that concerns itself with bad weather of all kinds and it got its first use in the World Tour yesterday in Paris-Nice. As rule explainers go this is a quick one but worth exploring.

The rule came about after a series of incidents involving, you guessed it, extreme weather. Riders were flaking at the end of an infernally hot stage of the Tour of California and snowflakes were falling in the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Something had to be done.

The result is new protocol, a PDF copy of which you’ll find online at UCI.ch. Note that according to rule 2.2.029 bis it only applies to World Tour and HC events (making it oddly applicable to male races only). The premise is simple:

the compulsory convening of a meeting between the stakeholders (organisation including race doctor and chief of security, riders, teams, President of the Commissaires Panel,) when extreme weather conditions are anticipated prior to the start of a stage

What are these extreme conditions? Anything but the rule makes some suggestions:

1. Freezing rain
2. Snow accumulation on the road
3. Strong winds
4. Extreme temperatures
5. Poor visibility
6. Air pollution

What happens in the event of bad weather? The protocol is more prescriptive and says “the following actions may be taken”, meaning it’s one of these seven and nothing else.

1. No action
2. Modification of the start venue
3. Modification of the start time
4. Modification of the finish venue
5. Use of an alternative course
6. Neutralization of a section of the stage/race
7. Cancellation of the stage/race

It’s sensible stuff but it amounts to a meeting if the forecast says extreme weather is due. There’s no advice on what to do if freak weather arrives or conditions turn worse than expected during a race. There’s no definition of extreme weather, for example when does a warm day become too hot? Above all there’s just a meeting.

But this meeting matters, it creates a formal discussion so that everyone is involved and there’s some thought, discussion and accountability. It means, for example, a zealous race organiser can be kept in check by the riders’ union; or everyone agrees to race and ignores the peloton patron worried about a chill. But it’s also just a meeting, the rule doesn’t specify a vote should be taken and it’s easy to imagine splits within each camp, for example borderline conditions on the morning of the Tour of Flanders could see some teams happy to stay warm and dry while others, like a domestic wildcard invitees, desperate to race given the publicity bonanza they crave.

A lot of the action points are sensible but easier said than done. The start can be moved, for example in 2010, the last time when Paris-Nice was altered by the snow, the start of Stage 3 was moved further along the race route to avoid the worst of the conditions, the race resumed and, for the anecdote, Peter Sagan took his first career win.

The route can be changed but this is not always easy. Take yesterday’s abandoned stage in Paris-Nice, there was no low road to take instead of the high road. The race was crossing the Beaujolais hills via the direct route via the Col des Écharmeaux – a large road used by trucks and more poetically by Napoleon on his march back from exile – rather than some of the smaller, higher roads around. So there was no way around and it’s easier just to stop the race. By contrast the Giro d’Italia in 2013 simply moved the snowy finish of one stage lower down a mountain given the snow and a truce among riders meant one pass on the way over was neutralised. So there can be solutions but it depends on circumstances and logistics.

Tour de France heat

Right now cold weather is the obvious extreme but as the season progresses there will be windy days and hot stages. There’s no guidance on what is too windy and it’s hard to set a threshold at N km/h given a strong wind on a sheltered course is not the same as on open terrain or gusts can vary the danger. The same with heat where the shade temperature, the common measure given in weather forecasts, isn’t so helpful for race taking place on tarmac and where humidity counts a lot; marathons often use wet bulb thermometers but this isn’t happening in cycling yet.

Conclusion
One of cycling’s charms is its open nature, the way it crosses the landscape rain or shine. It’s a genuine outdoor sport but it’s also a professional activity and workplace too. It’s one thing to fancy a six hour ride in wet conditions, it’s another to impose it as a working condition. Maybe all those “epic” old days might be on their way out but many countries have said goodbye to the days when construction workers built skyscrapers without safety harnesses and so on.

The UCI had promised to work on the protocol and it was always a tricky subject. You can probably tell the point when snow goes from a few frosty flakes to dangerous but writing it down is another matter. The same when trying to work out how hot is too hot. As a consequence the protocol is just an agreement to meet, debate the weather forecast and review the options. This is no bad thing as it brings accountability to all sides but it won’t stop the polemics about racing in bad weather nor the competing interests at stake. There will surely be more wintry discontent and heated debates.

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weeclarky March 10, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Its all very reasonable – but the best races are often held in crazy conditions, like Gent Wevelgem last year… And a bit of snow could be dealt with with proper tyres – cyclocross often takes place in worse. It may be unpleasant, but I bet there are more serious accidents from sprint finishes, mountain descents which are actually pretty insane when you think about it – maybe these should be neutralised too?

[half trolling, half not!]

Pierre-Jean March 10, 2016 at 2:26 pm

It is definitely not trolling, and you shouldn’t be soo apologetic about making your point.
Besides, the whole “progress in labour conditions” is absolutely non-applicable and shouldn’t be part of the discussion. This is a resistance sport. THE resistance sport. It is about competing to see who can best stand the pain and discomfort that others can’t deal with. One thing is to submit riders to the risk of severe crashes, and another thing to shy away from racing when it’s too cold or too hot. Cycling is certainly not about keeping suffering below limits.

Anonymous March 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Thanks, was just about to say this. If you want to compare cycling to working, you’d had to say something like: The task of a rider is to suffer as much as he/she can, to ride as dangerously as he/she dares in order to get the best place, do the best for his/her team. So rules to avoid suffering and dangerous riding would actually go AGAINST the spirit of the sport. Of course this is nonsense.

Therefore it is best to leave work be work and sport be sport. They simply are two different things, even when some people earn their money with sport. The whole mess the sport finds itself now in, stems exacty from that philosophical misunderstanding.

Chris March 10, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Well, some of us suffer a lot at work too, then get joy on our bikes! 😀

Michael B March 10, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Cyclo-cross does take place in snow but those races are over in an hour, aren’t they? Riding for hours and hours in the snow is a different proposition – especially in a stage race where you need more than 100+ riders to finish (as opposed to 25 in a classic). Also, surface and speeds are incomparable between road and cyclo-cross. I think the rules are sensible although as INRNG says, their implementation is key as the wording is flexible enough that only the worst weather should see cancellations.

Eurofluro March 10, 2016 at 3:50 pm

‘cyclocross often takes place in worse’

Cyclocross doesn’t descend 9% mountain passes for miles at 60mph.

Pierre-Jean March 10, 2016 at 4:03 pm

I don’t think you get the basic point. It has to be hard, as hard as can be. Whatever hardship could be coped with by riders 40 years ago, there is no reason to give riders nowadays an easier ride, is there? And to those who mention speed as a something that makes the cold worse, one simple answer: go slower, but go on.

Ecky Thump March 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Pierre-Jean, I understand your point, and above’s, but is this desire to see ‘suffering’ not one of the main factors that caused the mis-use of amphetamines etc in pro cycling; precisely because the suffering was more than the human body could reasonably take?

Hammarling March 10, 2016 at 8:07 pm

40 years ago riders were doped to the eyeballs on a whole cocktail of pain-numbing drugs. I’m sure if we had the same attitude to drugs riders would be fine with riding in the snow because they wouldn’t feel it. There was also a hell of a lot more serious injuries and deaths in races.

Times change and practices change, a lot of the time for the better and for a reason!

gabriele March 10, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Sure Hammarling, that’s why we haven’t banned 7ram4d0l, thus a significant part of the peloton can usually fill themselves to the eyeball with an opioid which “works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain”, “used by people who are expected to need medication to relieve pain around-the-clock”, which can cover even the lower fringe of *severe pain* and which “can be habit-forming”, besides having caused serious respiratory crisis in young patients and a lot of dangerous side effects in the general population of users.
But it’s not on the list, so technically they aren’t *doped* to the eyeballs.

J Evans March 10, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Precisely, Gabriele. (Incidentally, why does this website block all posts containing the word 7ram4dol?)
Cyclists’s attitude to drugs is typified by what Kristoff had to say about meldonium:
“We had a meeting. This stuff that [Vorganov] took was allowed before January, but from 1 January it was not. At the December camp we had a meeting with the medical staff and they say what is safe, what is allowed and not, and you pay attention. But he was probably not paying too much attention in this meeting.”
The attitude of riders, teams and doctors is ‘Take everything as long as it’s not banned’.

Ecky Thump March 10, 2016 at 11:50 pm

As a consequence of the past, J Evans?

Ferdi March 11, 2016 at 7:56 am

I think 100 metres running in the open air is too hard, because a lot of guys are doping to make it to the line. Let’s make it shorter and indoors. Please. We are witnessing the usual nonsensical arguments employed to water down the spirit of cycling. First, the improvement of labour conditions, and then doping. But it’s not serious. As someone said, this is an endurance sport, not an industrial job, it’s a test of endurance. And secondly the doping thing, as if it was the difficulty of cycling that caused doping. No, doping happens because people want to go faster, they want to win, regardless of the nature of the sport. Expecting cycling to be “not quite as hard as it used to be” is not acceptable.

Larry T. March 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

+1 Ferdi! And Pierre-Jean as well. Pro cycling lives off the epic days of the past, even if the past was only last year at Terminillo during Tirreno-Adriatico. The sport needs to be careful not to take the EPIC out of what we must remember is a SPORT.

Anonymous March 10, 2016 at 1:26 pm

It is so dissapointing, but of course it exactly happened, what was feared: Now that that protocol is in place, riders expect that exactly at the freezing point and with the first onset of snow the race stops or gets shortened and they don’t have to race anymore. And everytime this doesn’t happen they will go on publicly about how bad they are treated.

The teams and riders should understand that they have to work together with the races. Races pay them daily for their appearance, they pay for their hotels , the teams and rider get price money and more (this all btw means that races already in some way pay teams “tv-money”, probably far more than the race makes itself from tv, plus teams get to show their sponsors, so teams should hope and help that races survive and thrive instead of working against them), so that the teams and riders ride there, is not out of courtesy, like some team managers seem to believe.

The atmosphere of aggression and feeling of privilege towards race organisers that certain teams (Cannondale, BMC, etc) have adapted during the last years has created an explosive situation which is really bad for cycling. And it is also bad for the riders, even if it seems some are unable to see that.

The riders now discuss, “if it was yesterday plus or minus grades”, like this would mean or justify anything. They clearly understand the protocol as something totally different than as what it was intended. Dear riders: Bad weather is NOT extreme weather. It can be in some cases, but it doesn’t mean everytime a few snowflakes fall the race immediately must react and you can bust it on Twitter afterwards. All in all the teams fighting against ASO on the back of the races, the fans and cycling gets on my nerves.

And no, of course I don’t want the riders to risk their health, that is not what I mean, it isn’t always between two extremes. But I also am not interested in watching riders that behave like spoiled brats. Teams and riders ask for respect and responsible behaviour – how they show a bit respect and responsibility themselves?

Uli March 10, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Fully agree. Why anonymous?

And as another anonymous said earlier: “eave work be work and sport be sport”. For every moaning pro there are 10 riders who’d love to take his place.

Anonymous March 10, 2016 at 3:58 pm

The anonymous-choice actually has a story to it: I started to comment without my name because here every few months a discussion arises, that people who don’t say their name have nothing important to say, hide behind anonymity and so on. Of course I understood what was meant, but I simply didn’t like the aggressive tone of that discussion. The days after that discussion not many dared to comment anonymous, suddenly a lot of new monikers popped up. A (fantasy)name on the net suddenly became a question that decided about character.

So I started my very own (and I dare say largely unnoticed) “anonymous rebellion” and stopped using my name. It is actually a bit funny/silly now, like always, when we look back on passionate discussions and decisions, makes me smile myself, but back then I was not so amused. These days it doesn’t matter much anyway, as I seldom comment here anymore.

Uli March 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Ok. Just liked your reply and am curious about the person behind. Cycling is a small world.

Number Six March 10, 2016 at 8:04 pm

What is said trumps the pseudonym that says it.

Uli March 11, 2016 at 11:11 am

That’s why people can register here and use their real name.

Boxcar Betty March 10, 2016 at 8:09 pm

“For every moaning pro there are 10 riders who’d love to take his place.”

Spoken like every exploitative employer ever.

Chris March 10, 2016 at 10:23 pm

Great point.

Pierre-Jean March 11, 2016 at 9:51 am

Here we go. More union-like talk.

Uli March 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

I am talking about the same guys who readily shoot up any shit their veins without thinking twice but as soon as some weather occurs, everyone’s crying wolf.

Sports is extreme. It shouldn’t really be considered a classic profession.

gabriele March 11, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Have you ever wondered if “shooting up any shit their veins” has anything to do with the exploitative logics within cycling, and especially with the “for every moaning pro there are 10 riders who’d love to take his place” line?

Perhaps you should, and there’s a lot of material that can be read on the subject, too, if one isn’t that aware of what really happens .

Dave March 10, 2016 at 1:31 pm

The common sense ideas are logical enough: move the start/finish, delay start to see if weather improves, etc. It’s a shame there’s not more clarity on what organisers should do when conditions change during the race like during 2014 Giro.

Larrick March 10, 2016 at 1:33 pm

What it doesn’t mention is the issue with neutralising a race part way through to move to a safer place (al la MSR 2013) where the riders aren’t transported by the team busses. As in yesterday’s case, the riders were cold and wet with no real chance to dry off and change. Even if they were all ferried via the caravan to a rideable area, should we really have expected that they should have just got back on their bikes and started to ride again?

The Inner Ring March 10, 2016 at 6:02 pm

Even if there was space. There are two team cars in the race convoy but hard to get more than five riders in these two, maybe with the soigneur’s car at the feedzone they could do more but not easy, again it was just easier to stop, they saw yesterday that they didn’t have the vehicles to evacuate the riders.

Larrick March 11, 2016 at 9:41 am

My point was more that once a race is neutralised, if the riders actually stop riding and they’re cold and wet and there’s a long pause, it’s very difficult to expect them to just start up again. Fine if they can dry off and the busses are available but that wasn’t the case in this instance.

DMC March 10, 2016 at 6:15 pm

Exactly, this was the difficulty of yesterday’s decision. First of all, they neutralised the stage, but then how do the riders get to the next portion of the stage without enough cars to do so, and then when they cancelled the stage the riders were still standing around.

In cold weather, isn’t it better to keep riding so you stay warm? I mean, these riders have full winter kit on, and they’re already warm and sweaty from 3 hours of riding, the logical solution in my head is for them to keep riding, but neutralise the stage. If they were soaking wet, stopping to wait in the cold and snowy conditions is worse than keeping moving on their bikes. How long were these guys waiting on the side of the road? Wouldn’t it have been better if they continued on so they could stay warm.

Nick March 11, 2016 at 11:08 am

Uphill, perhaps, but downhill? You don’t really warm up while coming downhill in the snow. And the race was neutralised (then cancelled) when the leaders reached a summit.

I had also understood the one of the key causes of the cancellation was the snow sticking the road and making the descents too slippery to be safe (apparently a moto crashed), rather than just the cold.

J Evans March 10, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Was there any truth in the claim – apparently on Mate’s twitter account – that it was actually the riders who stopped the race?

Ecky Thump March 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm

ASO’s pictures, on Steephill tv, indicate that “conditions at the finish were much better”.
I wonder, as J Evans ponders above, if some ill-feeling lingers after yesterday?

Nick March 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm

I imagine it’s impossible to tell, unless one of the race organisers says “we told them to go on, but they refused”. From the perspective of a rider there’s probably not much difference between “our rep went to the commissaire and asked if they’d thought about stopping if it got much worse” and “we stopped the race”.

Anton March 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Interesting observation this protocol is not applied below HC competitions.

Will the UCI deploy this at the World Champs in Qatar if it is very hot?

Bernard's Underpants March 10, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Given that a meeting has to take place it seems like a fairly reasonable process. Though how you hold that meeting mid-race is anyone’s guess. At that point I would think that the race organiser needs to make an executive decision (or the riders decide to stop riding – though this may not give rise to 100% agreement).
Inrng has covered some of this before, in respect to the fact that fans like the added jeopardy. Sport has become very sanitised since the days of the Roman coliseums, and rightly so, but it is human nature to revel in it – would cycling be the same without the accidents? It’s the ultimate distillation of humanity – good and bad. Remove the risk and it becomes sterile. You only need to see the waxing and waning of sports where there are safe seats for sportsmen, and sports teams to know how dull it becomes.

J Evans March 10, 2016 at 6:43 pm

I mostly agree with those above saying that it’s supposed to be tough and that it’s a sport, not a job.
They managed to put up with it in the past and ‘putting up with it’ is what cycling’s all about.
I’d hate to see riders given the opportunity to jump off with little excuse – because it will often end up being those who are weakest or least up for it who get to decide.
Certain riders in the past have been quick to give up: the ones who don’t want to go downhill or ride when it’s wet and slippery, etc. So, they don’t win.
However, I don’t see how they could continue yesterday with snow on the roads.

Ferdi March 10, 2016 at 7:26 pm

A very good thing about extremely cold conditions is that they reward body fat. In a sport where a healthy amount of body fat is so heavily penalised, the only situation when a little adipous tissue does help shouldn’t be done away. A message to riders: if you make riding in the snow part of your lives, you’ll be able to reward yourselves with a Fondue and a bottle of Chasselas, with no guilty feelings.

Larry T. March 11, 2016 at 10:26 am

+1 🙂

Sam March 10, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Unless you’ve actually raced (not just ridden) in these types of conditions, you won’t understand how dangerous and miserable it really is. Frostbite, hypothermia, and heat stroke become increasingly likely as the conditions deteriorate. But the crowd cheers for blood and the riders push on …

gabriele March 10, 2016 at 9:14 pm

I partly agree, but that’s all about where you’re tracing the line. Some riders can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia in conditions which are totally acceptable for most of the peloton, and same goes for the heat: I guess that this enters in your “increasingly likely”, but, again, where do we put the limit? Absolutely *no rider* risking hypothermia? That would be extreme, because it tends to depend on a lot of factors, including some which are mere responsibility of the rider and/or the team.

When cold and snow are concerned, technical equipment is presently very good, too. How do we consider the fact that some riders and/or team underrate the conditions and don’t equip themselves adequately? Someone – you must know since you’re referring to racing in hard conditions – decides (quite silly, IMHO) to go for a lighter equipment (the basic part which isn’t easy to discard, obviously), although this can cause troubles with the cold, because they think that if they’re lucky they’ll get a competitive advantage. How do you cope with that? Isn’t that strategy?

However, I’m all for some sort of negotiation between the involved parties, and I think that in the case of Pa-Ni that was the right decision. Whereas, for example, there really wasn’t a problem of cold in the Giro 2014 on the Stelvio, nor the danger was that significant (perhaps outside the first 3 kms of the descent)…

The most important aspect is that this *protocol* shouldn’t become the formalisation of an old strategy by the strongest teams which tend to prefer not to race when the conditions would raise the level of unpredictability of the competition: they create pressure on the organisers, often mixing up the idea of danger with stages which are just a bit harder to control… this way, in case something bad ended up happening, even for reasons unrelated to the supposed danger, the predicament for the organisers would be huge – so they tend to “obey” or to be complicit.
Riis and Contador against the Crostis stage, or the good ol’ avalanches menacing the Stelvio some thirty years ago…

DMC March 10, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Frostbite and hypothermia don’t happen at the temperatures from Paris-Nice Stage 3. I trained and raced in these conditions all the time when I was young (man, that hurts to say). You get sick when you stop riding and stand on the side of the road waiting for a bus for 20-30 minutes.

Riders could have kept it at neutral pace, gone really carefully down the hill, and then started the race near the finale yesterday. Then they would’ve kept moving which was probably better in the circumstances.

Chris March 10, 2016 at 11:15 pm
DMC March 11, 2016 at 4:47 am

I agree, the weather was pretty bad, but my point is that the riders standing around in the snow for 30 minutes while wearing wet clothes is worse for them than having them ride along at a neutralised pace.

BC March 10, 2016 at 10:30 pm

This is not about conditions of employment. A bike race has always been the rider against the course, the elements and his fellow competitors. Changing any one part of that equation changes forever the essence of a bike race.

Any rider at any time is completely free to decide, for what ever reason, to retire from a race. It is worth noting that it is highly unlikely for a complete team to retire from any one race.

Although I understand the reasoning behind the protocol, I have real reservations about where this particular path will lead the sport. I question its effect on the general public’s perception of what cycling now represents. Some of the most iconic moments and images in the history of the sport have taken place in difficult and demanding climatic or route conditions. We are now about to replace all this with images of the dull aftermath of a cancellation, and lengthy discussions on whether the decision was warranted.

It will be interesting to see how Flanders or Roubaix play out in future years.

Nicktarios March 11, 2016 at 2:25 am

I think you’re totally incorrect, conditions of employment are central to this. It is the governing bodies/employers right to provide a safe arena (within limits). I’m not saying racing is safe or should be, as we’re all aware of bunch crashes, road furniture, tightness of sprints and crazy descents. And riders race on the limit there. But when you have conditions that make descents in particular a lottery, in terms of who goes down and who stays up, what is the point of racing on? What sort of spectacle is it to see riders unclipped coasting down a hill in the snow,/ice? Still those that make it down can claim skill AND luck probably in equal proportion – if conditions are quite trecherous. That would turn a stage race into a lottery, surely better to neutralise a section or stage and race again the next day, no?

For mine there’s a clear difference between wet/snowy conditions on climbs v’s descents also. The Giro classics in blizzards etc will still happen for mountain top finishes, no prob there. And the riders will cop it. If it’s too much they will unclip and hop in the car, ie a calculated decision when enough is enough. They won’t have that luxury on a descent in the same blizzrad with ice conditions. I doubt there’ll be too many races stopped simply because it’s too hot/cold for the riders.

All this talk of the past riders being hardarses and the current as being soft (not that you in particular are saying that BC – but it’s the underlying tone of the thread) is ridiculous. Riders are as hard as they have ever been, but we’re more aware of their opinions now, via twitter etc. They’ll race until they’re told not to, or neutralise themselves, so nothing really will change.

HWSB March 10, 2016 at 11:04 pm

Genuinely shocked at the number of comments saying that basically riders are sissies and looking for easy excuses not to ride.

I do agree that we should separate pro cycling from usual working conditions because of the everyday risks involved in racing a bike. But, have you riden in the freezing cold and snow? Or extreme heat? You can barely see! Let alone feel your hands. And any bend or slight dip in the road becomes a real danger: a career-altering danger. Your season could be over just like Degenkolb’s from a freak accident.

Of course this protocol should exist. And it’s very good that it involves a discussion of all stakeholders – not some arbitrary temperature boundaries – as INRNG eloquently discusses.

This is not leading the sport down a dangerous path where the riders gang up on the race organisers and refuse to ride. Pros are pretty binary and if they sniff the chance of a win they’ll give their lives for it.

Riders dream of Roubaix, for example, which is a mental race and many of them crash out in the pursuit of that dream.

But if we, the fans, force them to push when their tyres are bursting in Oman or they’re slipping on ice in France, we will miss them later. Far better to pass on a result on one day so as to keep in the fight for the next!

Pierre-Jean March 11, 2016 at 9:48 am

I am genuinely surprised at your surprise. Yes, I have ridden across mountains under snowstorms and with 2cm of snow on the pavement. It can be done. It is much more uncomfortable than dangerous. As for riders’ attitudes: look at their little ironic comments this time last year after the not particularly dangerous Terminillo stage in T-A. Or look at their never-stopping wishing for ever shorter stages. And many other things. One thing is to demand more safety and another, completely different, to demand less physically demanding conditions. Any time these two ideas are amalgamated, I am very suspicious.

gabriele March 11, 2016 at 10:52 am

I don’t know if you were referring to (a misread version of) my comment when you’re speaking of riders “ganging up on the race organisers”: in that case, you should be aware that sometimes not racing is precisely the path to strengthen your chance to win, as the examples I quoted show quite eloquently.

HWSB March 10, 2016 at 11:10 pm

And – sorry – but to say that it was ‘better back in the day’ when they were ‘real men’… These racers are putting in 200km+ per day for a week! Or three weeks! Yes they should be cut a little slack and be given the chance to operate in vaguely fair conditions.

Ecky Thump March 10, 2016 at 11:51 pm

Agreed.

Anonymous March 11, 2016 at 12:45 am

No-one said ‘real men’ or ‘sissies’. Nor did they imply it.

Pierre-Jean March 11, 2016 at 9:50 am

You surely don’t think cycling is as hard now as it was “back in the day”, no?

AK March 10, 2016 at 11:54 pm

There’s a big difference between conditions that are safe to train in, and conditions that are safe to race in. The comparison with cyclocross just doesn’t apply, they don’t ride shoulder to shoulder in 150+ groups at 40 km/h.
Another good reason to cancel a race if there is snow, is that often you can’t even see anything on tv anyway if it snows.
It’s a pity the protocol doesn’t mandate having buses on standby, if that was the case we would still have had the showdown on Mt Brouilly.

BC March 11, 2016 at 9:28 am

I am at a complete loss as to how the proponents of the ‘stakeholders’, a word that always makes me feel uncomfortable, feel that bike racing on the road can EVER meet the criteria of being ‘safe’. Are any of the advocates for stopping races seriously suggesting that Paris – Roubaix can be made safe, descending some Alpine pass at 100 km/hr, often in the wet be made safe, that riding amongst moto’s be made safe, riding safety through and around street furniture…… The list is endless. It is noticeable that the main advocates appear to come from the USA, where even the number of starters is being raised as a ‘safety’ problem. Do these proponents of the ‘protocol’ have any idea of the distribution of the small numbers of unfortunate fatalities the sport has witnessed in say the last 20 years ? Although there must have been at least one, I can’t think of any that were the direct result of low or high temperatures.

The simple fact is that bike racing has an element of risk. If this deemed risk is unacceptable then the sport is finished. Life itself is a risk, how can our sport be different ?

No one is demanding blood and gore from riders. It would be more helpful if those on the ‘protocol’ side of the argument did not try to make that the case.

The simple fact is that by removing the element of the weather from a race, there is the danger of changing the outcome. As some riders sprint or climb better than others, so do some cope with cold or hot weather better than others.

In the attempt to sanitize the sport could in the end prove self defeating.

gabriele March 11, 2016 at 10:59 am

I think that’s all about reducing every possible risk you can reduce… without harming the sport. And the point you make in the last paragraphs is *very* important, in that sense.

However, as many have already said, I think that we’ve got sort of a tension between two important aspects, that is, safety and the spirit of the sport. The only solution is trying to sort it out drawing a line case by case when *extreme* (and they should really be such) conditions do happen: in that sense, the protocol isn’t a bad thing since it should work to provide a course of action to work things out… although, as I said above, the risk of misusing it is not irrelevant. Not to speak of the risk people call upon it more often than not when it wouldn’t be needed.

Nick March 11, 2016 at 11:29 am

Agree that a protocol is the best way of resolving that tension. (Though perhaps not the extreme opinions protocol propounded by some commentators.)

Not entirely sure I understand the idea that this is a US-driven thing, though. My understanding was that the rider delegation suggesting neutralisation for Paris-Nice was Boom (Dutch for a Kazakh team), Kristoff (Norwegian/Russian), and Hansen (Aussie/Belgian). It strikes me that some people are very keen to link any prospective harmful development in cycling to the shadowy forces of Velon.

J Evans March 11, 2016 at 12:21 pm

No-one else has mentioned Velon.
I think most people’s concern here is that races should not be stopped just because it’s cold.
Snow on the road – for most, I think – is a different matter, particularly on downhills.
Riding in tough weather is a big part of the sport. Some won’t fancy that and could use the protocol to neutralise difficult stages. Why risk a difficult stage if you know that you are the best climber, for instance, and will gain time on more ‘normal’ parcours?
And there is history of riders stopping races on parcours they don’t like. Cancellara neutralising (whilst in yellow) a stage of the 2010 TDF after Andy Schleck (amongst many others, admittedly) had crashed and lost time on a slippery descent. Cancellara then insisted that this neutralisation be continued for the entire stage – even once the front group had come back together (presumably to bolster his argument). There was no need for this and it meant that the tougher sprinters who had got over the climb didn’t get points over those who hadn’t. The upshot was that Hushovd lost the green jersey in the end to Petacchi.
That is the problem with giving riders this decision – they’re not unbiased.
The risk is the sport turning evermore into a watts fest, and skill and toughness counting for less and less.

PT March 11, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Cancellara neutralised that stage after oil was spilt on the road. A camera bike crashed in the forest I think.

J Evans March 11, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Yes, but my point was that the neutralisation didn’t have to be until the end of the stage.
Once the peloton had re-grouped after the crash, racing could have resumed.
Many sprinters wanted this – Cancellara did not.
The race was neutralised – Cancellara getting his way ostensibly because he happened to be in yellow – and Hushovd (who was in the peloton) did not gain points he otherwise would have over Petacchi (who was in a group far behind).
Hushovd was not rewarded for his good riding.
Thus the overall points competition was decided by a rider’s (unnecessary) action.

gabriele March 11, 2016 at 2:54 pm

J Evans, note that I share your general point, but IMHO you’re being excessively “mechanistic” here.
Petacchi that day arrived a huge way back, out of the point zone. So you’re assuming that with an opener race Hushovd would have done better and thus scored more point… maybe… but maybe he would have done worst than 7th due to other attacks. Who knows. Moreover, but this doesn’t matter that much, Hushovd was favoured the following day by the “lack-of-neutralisation” in the pavé stage (which is often remembered to show the double standard by Cancellara).

In more general terms, all this happened in a very early stage of the whole competition (“green jersey”), hence I’d argue that if a rider has the edge he should have to win a 3-weeks-long contest, he’ll recover from this unlucky setbacks to get back what he deserves one way or another.

This is not computer-logic nor totally rational (we can imagine a very little margin that makes it impossible for the deserving rider to get back what *he owns*), but this is the way it usually goes in the sport.

Besides, if the margin is that reduced, it’s really unclear how and why anyone could ever define you as the absolutely-deserving winner.
In fact, a setback like this, which depends on Cancellara’s decision but which can be classified as “bad luck” from the hard sprinters’ point of view, probably was matched along the 3 weeks by corresponding little “good luck” situations we simply didn’t notice.

It’s different if something which moves the balance happens later in the race, where you lack the time and space to compensate, or if it happens in stage 2, leaving you enough room to set your strategy accordingly. If you can’t make for it in the following 19 stages, perhaps you weren’t that much above the rest and the *injustice*, in sportive terms, is really infinitesimal or null.

PS I’d add that the oil thing wasn’t confirmed as a *fact* – I believe, but I’m not sure of my memory about this.

J Evans March 11, 2016 at 7:38 pm

True, it wasn’t as cut and dried as I suggested. But my problem with it is that it was Cancellara’s decision – i.e. the decision of one rider – and not a racing incident that had such a big effect (which may or may not have been conclusive).

Ronin March 12, 2016 at 2:47 am

I actually started compiling a list of serious injuries in top level road racing since WW2. I’ve not finished it and may not find the time. So, I can’t give you perfectly accurate account. But, the data I’ve collected so far shows that the most serious injuries come during descents, for obvious reasons. Riders strike hard things at high speeds. Soler hit his head on a fence post. Weylandt appears to have clipped a brick wall and was catapulted in some way to . .. nevermind. Casartelli appears to have hit his head on a granite block at the side of the road.

The only cold temp injuries I’ve come across are frost bite injuries, some of them famous. E.g., Bernard Hinault at Liege. This makes sense. Hypothermia is highly unlikely if you’re generating heat by riding a bicycle at high speeds.

There are two serious cases associated with heat. At the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics, Knud Enemark Jensen, collapsed during the 100 km team time trial. He later died. The autopsy claimed this was due to heatstroke, but later medical studies disputed this. It was only 40 degrees and he fell midway through, not at the end. A teammate later confessed that they ingested all manner of things. And, of course, heat stroke has been cited in Tom Simpson’s death, where here as the former, drug use complicates the cause of death. I’ve found no other serious injuries, at the top level, associated with heat.

One thing is clear. Extreme weather has not proven very dangerous to cyclists. History shows that all the hoopla about “extreme weather protocols” for rider safety is nonsense. They’re now well paid pros and they just don’t want to race under such conditions, is all. I don’t blame them. It sucks. But it has little to do with safety, IMO.

Another leading cause of death and serious injury are riders crashing into vehicles on the course. Think Kivilev at Paris-Nice. The Australian rider, Graham Jose ran into the back of “tray topped lorry”. Yikes.

Sprinting accidents causing serious injury or death are actually infrequent, for common sense reasons. The sides are barricaded, preventing riders from hitting stationary objects like fence posts and “tray topped lorries”. And, they’re going so damn fast that their momentum carries them relatively parallel with the road surface, so they’re not, e.g., being flipped and smashed into the asphalt like a Moto GP rider high-siding a turn.

Ronin March 12, 2016 at 2:53 am

Correction. Kivilev’s death did not occur due to striking a vehicle. Not sure who I was thinking about. Kivilev hit is head on the asphalt, after which, the UCI made wearing helmets mandatory.

J Evans March 12, 2016 at 11:58 am

Thanks – good to have some facts.

BC March 12, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Thanks Ronin. An excellent appraisal and over view of the factual situation. There has been far too much unsubstantiated hot air involved in the debate over the ‘bad weather protocol’. It reminds me more than a little of the radio debate, and many of the same proponents for radios who gratuitously use safety as an end to their own means.

I really do hope that common sense will prevail in the future, and people will try and assess the reality of the situation based on fact and not an imagined issue.

If those with a safety agenda persist, the sport is in grave danger of being changed out of all recognition. We all want riders not to have to suffer more than they already do. The sport can NEVER be entirely safe, its the nature of the beast.

Ecky Thump March 12, 2016 at 2:25 pm

It’s an utterly incongruous point though, as interesting as the stats are.
A death / serious injury is a failure in itself.
I hope, though suspect otherwise, that Ronin’s compilation will include ‘near misses’, that is to say riders forced to give up on the verge of serious injury.

Cycling’ indifference to ‘suffering’ led precisely to the routine use of drugs to cope.
I find it fascinating that the same opposing trains of thought of the two Henri’s, Desgrange and Pelissier, are still at contest a hundred or so years later.

J Evans March 12, 2016 at 3:29 pm

As others have pointed out, drugs are used in all sports.
Cycling being difficult is not the reason people cheat.
People just cheat.
As an aside, what is wrong with Italian TV?
Any time the weather is bad, it breaks down. Year after year.
Doesn’t happen elsewhere.
That’s an extreme weather problem I’d like to see sorted out.

Nick March 13, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Perhaps Beloki’s broken leg in the 2003 TdF was heat related, as his crash seemed to be caused by his wheel losing traction in the melted tarmac. (it was very hot that year)

PT March 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm

If Lars Boom, Adam Hansen and Alexander Kristoff reckon its time to get off your bike, I’d listen.

gabriele March 11, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Ah ah ah ah, nice point 🙂

Anonymous March 11, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Even though the regulations specify WT and HC races, there was some form of Extreme Weather Protocol-induced neutralisation at the Clasica de Almeria due to the high winds earlier this year.

BC March 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Ecky Thump is Carlton Kirby, even if he hasn’t mentioned corners and narrowing of roads, and I claim my 5 dollars !

If you have better information than Ronin please share. Your points have little substance, other than to criticize others views, together with a bizarre effort to try to somehow relate safety to suffering and doping.

If you have ever ridden competitively, at any level, you will understand that suffering and bike racing are impossible to separate. The ability to suffer at critical points is one of the requirements of being a decent bike rider, doped or clean.

I repeat. Bike racing is by its very nature a pursuit with an inbuilt element of risk. If you are so determined to eliminate the risks, no form of racing will survive. The guys who make it safer are generally the riders, not people sitting in committee or posters.

I am finished with this thread. It is rather disappointing that when someone presents some information that tries to help move the the debate forward, it is ignored by those not able to present a coherent or fuller set of points.

I expected better from posters here !

Ecky Thump March 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm

My reply to Ronin was not intended in a disrespectful manner, and apologies if that is the way it came across.
But, seeing as Hinault’s win at L-B-L is centre-stage in this debate, he has the legacy of two permanently numbed fingers from frostbite courtesy of the effort. And if that is where the bar is set at to win a bicycle race, I feel it’s too much to ask.
Cycling does not exist in an Edwardian time warp when all other aspects of life and work have reflected legislative progress.

weeclarky March 13, 2016 at 6:18 pm

this is ridiculous – many pro (and amateur) end up with a whole bunch of injuries – shoulders and hips and knees that are never the same again after crashes and what have you. it’s true of lots of sports, and is mostly just part of the fun. people into mountaineering for example wind up with many a missing digit for the love of their sport…

Ecky Thump March 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm

True enough, and I’ve got one or two of my own for posterity.
There’s risk in many sports, but there should be no need to push it.
I thought that was the point of the EWP and, whilst I remain in agreement with its principle, it seems the administration of putting it in to practice is another matter.
But I don’t think today is the best time to try to have a reasoned debate, there’s a lot of emoticons flying about!

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Now is precisely the time to debate it. Do nothing and they get away with it.
You can see how it’s being used.
A stage was cancelled for no good reason.
Why is the question.

BC March 12, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Ecky Thump. Apology accepted, I am sorry to disagree with you so strongly, but I consider people using H&S arguments can be very dangerous. I repeat a previous comment. No one makes a bike rider race, it is their desire. If they feel uneasy because of safety reasons, they always have the option to stop – either in one event or completely. That is not an Edwardian view but a statement of fact.

Hinault’s 1980 Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory was certainly a victory over the elements. According to an interview with William Fotheringham, Hinault said, “they ( the second finger on both hands) are not right. When it is below four or five degrees and I have to work outside, I need to wear gloves”. Not a lot different to most of us I would suggest.

Look. If you want to drag H&S into bike racing, you are going down a very dangerous slope. There is NO legislative process known to man that can govern a bike race and make it safe, other than a complete ban.

We must agree to differ.

Larry T. March 12, 2016 at 7:31 pm

And now this http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/03/news/398307_398307
Based only on the weather FORECAST! How many epic races from the past would never have been run if decisions were made the day prior, based solely on a weather forecast?
While I consider these pre-season events, a very bad precedent is being set here.

The Inner Ring March 12, 2016 at 7:35 pm

There’s already a few centimetres of snow on the ground at Monte Vicino and the forecasts I looked at say it’ll be snowing above 1,000m to tomorrow. With these conditions I’m not even sure they’d get all the finish line equipment up there by trucks as these would slip and slide all the way up. We’ll see tomorrow.

J Evans March 12, 2016 at 7:44 pm

This is everything many of us feared.
This is Health and Safety bullsh1t.
Vegni: “Even the Plan B stage route we had crossed the Apennines and so there was a risk of having to stop if it snowed.”
So, now they cancel a race because they MIGHT have to stop?
At least wait until tomorrow and see what he weather is actually like.
Thin end of the wedge.
It’s a non-race now. And if Tejay van Garderen can’t win now, he never will.
You make rules saying that races can be stopped because of the weather and suddenly they’re stopping them all over the place.
A pathetic disgrace.

BC March 12, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Is anyone really surprised that we now find ourselves in the crazy situation where the two current WT week long stage races have been disrupted in the space of a few days by the new poorly thought out ‘protocol’ ?

The long term damage and costs of these decisions in terms of public perception, television, newsprint, stage towns, sponsors etc etc can only be imagined.

It is very sad to see our sport now being made reliant on tomorrows weather forecast. Vengi actually said that plan ‘B’ MIGHT not work because “there might be snow or cold rain” ! So, the precedent of ‘cold rain’ has now been set.

I really hope this cancellation is proved in hindsight to be the right decision, because it has moved this debate beyond the point many were apparently expecting.

If Van Garderen were to win, the victory will be totally hollow in most peoples eyes.

No one want to see riders put at risk, but what we have now is a random and expanding view on what constitutes potential dangers.

How many more events will be ruined or cancelled by this new ‘protocol’ ?

The Inner Ring March 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm

The “protocol” is just the compulsory meeting. Any decision to stop or start is the same as it ever was, dependent on circumstances … that’s the main point of the piece above 😉

There’s snow on the ground already at Monte Vicino and more is forecast tomorrow. With these kind of conditions they won’t even be able to drive the finish zone trucks up to the finish to set up the gantry and TV cameras, yet alone have people racing.

J Evans March 12, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Protocol or whatever, you see what the weather is actually like tomorrow.
And you try plan B – not cancel it because it might be bad.
Whatever the protocol says, it does seem to have created this set of circumstances.
Milan-San Remo wasn’t cancelled the year it snowed – they stopped and then re-started the race, missing a big hill.

DMC March 12, 2016 at 8:40 pm

They don’t have to finish in Monte Vicino. How many times have we had shortened stages? Why not make tomorrow’s stage a shorter stage. It’s not snowing in Montelago, which is 40km from Monte San Vicino.

The Inner Ring March 12, 2016 at 8:43 pm

They’ve thought of that but the route goes high already and above the snow line so it couldn’t be done they say.

Seriously RCS are not amateurs, they know the terrain and have pro weather forecasters supplying information. Perhaps they’ll look like chumps if it all melts tomorrow but they’re taking these decisions on good faith based on the best information they have to hand. It’s going to cost them and their sponsors a lot of money to not race, they don’t cancel the race because they want a rest on Sunday 😉

J Evans March 12, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Vegni seems pretty determined to have a day off.

‘Vegni insisted there was no point organising a short race in the valley near Foligno that would not offer the same technical characteristics as the planned mountain stage.
“It has no sense to get the riders to race for 70km in the cold and rain. If we can’t have the same race characteristics. it doesn’t make sense. Our Plan B had kept the characteristics of the original stage, taking out the early climbs but keeping the mountain finish. But when you can’t even finish at altitude, the race is just isn’t the same. At the point it wouldn’t make sense.”’

Why this sudden aversion to riding in cold and rain?

DMC March 12, 2016 at 8:56 pm

I’m being a huge pain in the a$$ with my arguments – and for that I apologise! With that out of the way.

J Evans’ is completely right – Vegni is speculating on the weather – he doesn’t even know for sure what the weather would be over the entire course (I just looked it up, the weather for the second last mountain is 45 farenheint and wet, but no snow mentioned).

The shorter race that I proposed is still 130km. Plus, even if the race is 70km, the racers who are building up for the Giro are still going to go for a hard training ride in the cold and rain tomorrow anyways! Why not make it a sanctioned training ride, otherwise known as a race. 70km at race pace is still better than a… you know what, these guys are probably going to do a group ride, with the same guys they’re at the hotel with tonight! In effect they are going to race… just not in a race… the whole scenario is ridiculous. So the weather is good enough to ride their bikes in, but it isn’t good enough to ride their bikes in…. except they’ll have traffic on the roads…

my head hurts… this is making me dizzy.

Anonymous March 12, 2016 at 9:37 pm

We know, it is not that easy. There is a whole lot of politics involved (ASO vs RCS), Social media pressure, the fear of the organisers, that riders ride instead of race, if it really goes head to head with the teams, which will be much worse on tv than no race at all and so on. So the decision to not race at all and instead look like the good uncle RCS who cares for the riders, is surely not made in a pressure and politics-free environment. Aside from that I think the two situations are indeed different, as there is now already a lot of snow on the roads, while in Paris-Nice snow was NOT (despite what some riders say) clearly forecast.

I know not enough about that area and the logistics, so I can’t really judge the decision to not race at all or to wait till tomorrow to cancel the whole stage, but it initially indeed seems to be a strange one. But I can understand, that they cancel the mountains already today, seeing the pictures and reading the forecast.

Anyway, the protocol has created a leverage and sadly it seems that in cycling most people can’t handle that in a good way.

DMC March 12, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Not going to lie, this is getting ridiculous. The riders didn’t even protest.

J Evans March 12, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Not even remotely surprised.
I hope the weather is mild and that the cancellation is proven to be wrong. That way, in future, they might at least wait until the day itself.
The precedent is set and this is how team bosses, riders, etc. will expect it to be from now on.
Even the threat of bad weather and some will call for the stage to be cancelled – because it doesn’t suit them.

Anonymous March 12, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Till 10 min. ago I wasn’t wishing that. Now I saw the tweets of some riders about that health/security nonsense, (and one about it being saturday and no racing tomorrow) as if they would be forced to ride through Sibiria in nothing but their underwear and everytime they go slow, someone forces them violently to ride dangerously fast. That is so ridiculous.

Yes, a few decades earlier, times were different and being a professional rider, riding in wool in every weather, earning little money, surely was a tough thing. It is like the riders haven’t noticed that times have changed and they still sell us that hardship-thing. And often it works and we buy it, simply because we are used to think: “those poor riders”, because all those bad stories of the old bad times have been told a thousand times. But times have changed and it is like the riders haven’t noticed that their life isn’t like that of the generations ago (which is a good thing) and now they push too far and without respect for their profession.

Not everything is glamorous? Well, that is life. You hurt after 8 hours on the bike – well you chose this profession, it is part of it. I am not so sure you want instead to call people 8 hours every day to sell them stuff they don’t want and get shout and cursed at at every second call. It is like the riders think they should be able to ride races without it being painful or messy – unless they chose it to be through riding hard. Avoiding pain or hardship is human, but the riders are doing something for a living, which includes hardship and pain. And this conflict can’t be resolved. At least not without cycling being not cycling anymore and losing the interest of many fans.

So after reading those tweets, I really wish tomorrow is a wonderful day in Italy and the riders that press so much for this “change” learn something. Luckily it seems not all riders are happy with what is happening.

gabriele March 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm

“…the protocol has created a leverage and sadly it seems that in cycling most people can’t handle that in a good way…”. QED.

I’m trying to get more information about the subject before making up my mind; however, Vegni – who’s really a good race manage from other POVs – has a history of questionable decisions in similar situations… He tends to avoid *any* possible risk he might have to respond for (he doesn’t even try to defend “the interest of the race” as a specific point, he just wants to avoid troubles). And he also tends to avoid conflict with the more powerful teams, politically speaking. He’s quite the opposite of Zomegnan, for good or ill.

Larry T. March 13, 2016 at 8:30 am

Vegni and the rest of the marketing-mavens at RCS are all about CYA, especially after the Acquarone fiasco. Of course this decision is not without precedent as us old farts remember Torriani and Co. taking the Passo Stelvio out of the Giro under a flimsy pretext to supposedly benefit Francesco Moser, but this protocol has changed the atmosphere from racing in all but the most extremely dangerous conditions towards “Chicken Little” and the sky is falling. Everyone involved seems be worried more about covering their ass than anything else. RCS needs a charismatic leader again – a Torriani or Zomegnan.

gabriele March 12, 2016 at 11:10 pm

*** I’m not allowed to post a comment, apparently. I guess that the links are the problem. I’ll try to posti the same here, without links ***

Uhmm… reading a couple of Italian forums and “the internet is on fire” 😛

What forecast did Vegni use is a great mystery. I went and a gave a look to the two more popular weather sites in Italy, and temperatures are fine. One doesn’t even consider it possible that the quite reduced rains might become snow. The other one refers to *possible* snow above 1000 mts.

On the “Cicloweb” forum, a fan who’s keen on weather forecast posted several more professional models which don’t give a hint of any risky situation, quite the contrary.
For if someone here likes this sort of things:
[…]

Local sources say that the photo posted by RCS is referred to a section of the road which is really near the top of the climb. Usually, such a quantity of snow (and even much more) could be removed in a few hours during the morning. And it wasn’t even from today, apparently.

It has been proposed an alternative course which never goes higher than 600 m and whose length is about 140 kms, allowing a shorter race in case it was cold. A little snow on a hill-top finish wouldn’t be that much of a problema. It looks like that Vegni declined, saying that a short and flat course, even if with a final climbs, “doesn’t make sense, technically speaking, it’s better not to race at all”. Speaking of nonsense…

Has the EWT been used, here, or was it Vegni alone who decided?
If it was an EWT case, I believe that the public deserves more transparency: who did suggest to stop, and on what basis? It should be fair that we knew, just in case the decision was biased.

Astana is expressing their disappointment through different social networks.
Who were the representants of the riders and of the teams who eventually promoted the cancellation of the race?

I’d really like to know what’s happening behind the scenes, because this looks like a big mess and I’d really love to know who’s working so hard to spoil cycling.

Maybe Vegni has got better weather forecast models (well, I must really love cycling, because if he’s got better weather men than the people I quoted above, I could make huge money with that)… but since – at least – different models *do exist*, it’s absurd to cancel the stage one day before, without even trying to see how does the weather situation actually evolves.

Anonymous March 12, 2016 at 11:38 pm

I saw a tweet of a team (it was Lotto NL) which said they now have the EWP – meeting and would inform afterwards. So it was not only Vegni. I think they all are keen to set Paris-Nice as a bad example, fits (almost) everybody’s narrative. Thanks for the information!

J Evans March 12, 2016 at 11:55 pm

As always in cycling there will be no transparency.
Weird that Etixx and BMC are in favour of this, as they have Stybar and TVG.
And how can Vegni stand there and say that having no race is better than an alternative route?
As you say, some do seem determined to spoil the sport.

The Inner Ring March 12, 2016 at 11:58 pm

Interesting. I suppose we will see tomorrow because people will be posting photos on social media and these will spread quickly.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 1:03 am

Whatever might happen tomorrow, three of the most important weather webpages in Italy aren’t presently forecasting any snow under 920 m (the most pessimistic one; the other two speak respectively of 1000 m – and not in the M. S. Vicino area – and 1200 m!, which would have allowed to race on the original course. Temperature would be around 8-10º, with the zero around 1200-1500 m. The public agency ARPA, which has got a regional weather service, suggest that snow shouldn’t fall below 1100 m.
Now.
Whatever might happen, on what basis did they decide? Sure, one of their *experts* could wild guess that a lot of snow will fall, and impredictable as weather is, he might even be right. But, from a rational POV, most reliable sources are NOT actually forecasting – not even by far – the situation about which Vegni is speaking. No amount of snowy photos tomorrow will ever change our present reality, a reality within which no weather menace appears to be looming on the race.

Assuming that their forecast was so different from the rest of the world, couldn’t they just wait for tomorrow and see, as it has been done so many time?

Then, I read this, and – although I know that the guy has got a specific interest in praising this decision – I can’t avoid being *utterly* worried for the future:

Etixx-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere was happy with the organisers’ decision, praising RCS Sport in a statement published on the team’s website.
“This is an important step for cycling, because it’s probably for the first time in the history of this sport that such a wise decision is taken before the start of a race, a decision which came as an agreement between all the stakeholders,” Lefevere said.
“I would also like to underline the courage of the race organisers who have agreed to cancel such an important stage and put the riders’ safety first, ahead of any interest. Tirreno-Adriatico definitely sets an example for the future,” Lefevere said.
[source: CN]

I’m also worried by the fact that CN readily provides a title line saying that “most teams and riders support RCS decision”, when they look like to have talked only with Astana (which aren’t happy), BMC, Etixx (who couldn’t but be delighted by the decision) and one of their favourites, Matt White, who, indeed, approves the decision despite having Chaves and Yates some 35″ back.

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 1:18 am

You have to question Vegni’s motives.
And the precedent has probably been set by this, unfortunately. The only hope is that there is no snow tomorrow – then people might see this decision for what it is (otherwise, people will claim it was ‘sensible’ and ‘for the sake of rider safety’).
As for the team bosses, most will have the long term view of all of three days and will say whatever suits them in this race.
And as for CN, their biases – whether it’s their rabid pro-Velon stance or their various team/rider favouritisms – render almost any opinion of theirs worthless.
(CN’s version of Nibali’s tweet differs considerably from yours below:
‘Nibali also voiced his frustration via a Twitter update.
“I am saddened by the cancellation of the stage to @TirrenAdriatico,” Nibali wrote on the social media platform. “I aimed at the podium, it will be for another time ….”.’)

Anonymous March 13, 2016 at 1:45 am

Indeed, it is a sad time these days to be a cycling fan. But I don’t think anybody takes cyclingnews (or cooksonnews, how I call them) serious. I can’t believe anybody reads them as “news” in the sense of neutral or real. Surely people by now have realised that it is about politics and don’t believe anything of the nonsense certain teams, riders and news sites spin? Surely everybody by now has realised that cycling as we love it is really endangered?

It’s been on the horizon for quite some time and it gets worse everyday. It is not about making cycling a bit more safe and making cycling a bit more profitable. It is a power struggle. Some teams aren’t satisfied with being part of the show, they want to run the show. And if others (teams, riders, races, fans, federations) who love the sport don’t wake up soon, things will go very, very wrong.

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 11:54 am

Unfortunately, I think the majority of people have no idea – you only have to see the comments section on CN: very pro-Velon and pro-Cookson, and very anti-ASO.

Larry T. March 13, 2016 at 8:32 am

An example for the future? Sadly, yes.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 12:12 am

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/van-garderen-we-definitely-still-want-to-win-this-tirreno-adriatico/

Definitely, not a champion. Whatever he might win.

Boasting about *how well he would have faired on the climb*, while supporting the decision to take it away… “not to have another Stelvio day”. Oh. Please.

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 12:24 am

It’s like they think others can’t see through them: he knows this is his only chance of winning a decent race – and, as you say, it won’t be in this case.
This is a man who trained with Armstrong so I’m not surprised.

Have to say that I’m disappointed not to have read anything from any rider saying what garbage this all is. (Have I just not found the right sources? I hope so.) I’d have thought Nibali would be unhappy.

I’ve been disgusted by cycling many times in the last 25 years, but rarely more so than right now.
This decision seems cowardly, devious and disingenuous.

The biggest lie is the one that has been so often repeated: that it is dangerous to ride in cold temperatures. (Do they think we’ve never seen a bike race?)

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 12:42 am

Nibali on Twitter: Sono amareggiato per l’annullamento della tappa alla @TirrenAdriatico . Puntavo al tris, sarà per un’altra volta…. ??#NeverGiveUp

(I’m embittered because of the cancellation of the stage. I hope to make it three, maybe next time. Angry emoticons)

Agnoli on Twitter: Ci sono strade che possono essere meno impervie di altre, basta saperle interpretare per tempo…peccato!!

(Some roads can be less arduous than others, you just need to think about it with the right timing… what a shame!!)

Agnoli also posts a photo of his roadbook with the drawings of what look like three possible alternatives which wouldn’t cross snowy zone.

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 1:09 am

Good for them.
And thanks for the translations.

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 11:56 am

Any news Gabriele, or anyone else, on how the weather on the course actaully is today?

Ecky Thump March 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm

I was wondering too.
I don’t profess to be ITK, but a weather forecast for Matelica has wind / rain with wind-chill temp of 4c and snow around 950 – 980m.

BC March 13, 2016 at 9:23 am

And at the centre of this latest clusterf*&k are Ochowicz, who’s rider has the most to gain from a cancellation and who is also now pushing as hard as he can in the background for smaller fields in the name of safety, and that other doyen of safety and common sense Vaughters, he of radio power control fame. These are two characters who somehow dodged the doping bullets, but are still at the front of a personal power drive that could ruin the sport.

Wake up. They are interested in themselves, not the riders nor the sport. The sport should be bigger than this pair of chancers and their acolytes, but it appears not. It appears the mafia lives on.

I certainly won’t be viewing anymore of either race as there appears little point in fudged competitions.

Anonymous March 13, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Nibali just tweeted a video of today’s stage in Tirrenno – Adriatico, no snow, totally regular.

He tweets he is sorry for the people who love the sport and hopes common sense will prevail. It is a shame. If people don’t start to question what is happening, if they don’t wake up to the powergames behind the scene, they deserve what they will get. It will be interesting, how the english media will now react: Will they lose their last bit of selfrespect or will they begin to emancipate themselves? Now would be a chance.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 3:01 pm

+1
Comments by Agnoli (Astana rider):

“Nella vita,come nello sport,ci sono delle decisioni e chi per convivenza o per piacere le accetta,ma si sa che…nel ciclismo la ruota gira”.
“In life, just like in sport, there happen to be decisions, and people who accept them for a quiet life’s sake or because they like them, but, you know, in cycling the wheel may spin…”

“Come disse una persona del passato: Io non ci credo al caso, io credo alla volontà di Dio.cit A.G. ??? [perplexity emoticons)”
(“As someone said in the past: I don’t believe in pure chance, I believe in the will of God (quoted by A. G. [perplexity emoticons]”)

The Inner Ring March 13, 2016 at 3:15 pm
Megi March 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm

A lot of these comments seem to be from fans annoyed that they can’t watch cyclists suffer. While the two races concerned are both major exciting races, I for one am pleased that the organisers are putting the riders first and the fans second. That way, I know that the riders concerned will be around to compete and entertain in many other races later on this year, rather than being out for weeks or months with needless injuries. As anyone who has lived in Britain knows, the temperature doesn’t have to get below zero for black ice and grip problems in shaded stretches of road.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Apparently, you haven’t read most of the above. You’ve got the right to hold your opinion, but what has happened in the Tirreno doesn’t really have anything to do with weather and riders’ suffering.

Ferdi March 13, 2016 at 5:07 pm

I, for one, am disappointed at seeing riders prefer comfort to riding. It’s beyond my understanding.

DMC March 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Don’t riders suffer every day when they race? The whole sport is about suffering. If you can’t handle watching people suffer, don’t watch cycling.

The riders wanted to suffer today, and trust me, as soon as the last mountain finished, they would have warmed right up! They could have raced today, no question.

I’m not commenting again! haha. I promise.

BC March 13, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Right. From information available so far the weather was nowhere near that described yesterday evening by the Organizer.

I have one pertinent question about this ‘protocol’. Why have the UCI allowed individuals with a vested interest in an outcome, be involved in decision making. Are the UCI really so weak that they are unable to stand up to these people. We are forced to see the same old vested interests like Lefereve, brimming with self righteous satisfaction – he has the current race leader. If there is to be a ‘protocol’ it seems correct that commissaires , judges and organizers should form the decision making body – as they at least have some independence from the outcome. In addition the guidelines need tightening to be clear and concise – try that where weather is concerned.

I am more than disappointed by the shenanigans of this week. What a dreadful mess the H&S abusing maniacs have bought us too – for what purpose ?

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 3:31 pm

One of the highest points in the area where the race might have passed (770 m) has got a webcam. At the time the race could have gone through there, the nowcasting was saying 5º, perfect visibility, no snow (obviously) and 4 mm of accumulated rainfall.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

A rider who’s just lost a bit of the huge respect I had for him replied to Nibali’s tweet (the one with the video):

Taylor Phinney ‏@taylorphinney 1 1 ahour ago
@vincenzonibali un po’ esagerato adesso. Come gruppo dobbiamo stare uniti, continuare a lamentarsi non aiuta ne te, i tifosi o lo sport
“You’re exaggerating a little, now. As a peloton, we must stand all together, going on with complaints won’t do any good to you nor to the fans or the sport”.

Awful. And a touch of mafia-style can be appreciated between the lines, too.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Mollema had tweeted this… but now I can’t find it anymore on his profile o__O:

“After training 120 km in dry weather and 11°C, I can’t understand why we are not racing now. Snow on top of climbs, ok, but why no plan B??”

Pinot, last night:

PINOT Thibaut ‏@ThibautPinot 19h19 hours ago
“Pas de panique les grimpeurs… On aura notre bataille avec une très belle arrivée en bosse lundi… Merci #Tirreno”

And again today, with a photo of the clean finish line:
“Triste réalité du cyclisme moderne. Image de l’arrivée…. Comment peut-on annuler une étape la veille?”

A local fan apparently went to the hotel where Bora, Giant and Ag2R are staying: the riders were really surprised and disappointed, they can’t understand why they aren’t racing. Yesterday it was told them that snow was going to fall as low as at a 700 m altitude. Which looks more and more as an OUTRIGHT LIE, unless we can be offered a proper source which defended that possibility.

DMC March 13, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Yesterday I looked for the weather forecast that Vegni quoted… and nothing… I couldn’t find anything. Everything I saw said 40-45 degrees farenheit with chances of rain. Note, I couldn’t find a forecast for the stage finish, but for the first 130km, the route seemed rideable.

Plan B should have been for the riders to race to the second to last KOM point (and make that the finish line). It was a relatively simple solution. Tirreno needs to say what can we do to make this the best stage race in March? Cancelling a stage because of potential for snow is telling riders to do Paris-Nice next year.

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Agree with everything Gabriele, Anonymous and BC have said.
Yet another example of why teams should not be making decisions as regards racing.
Who benefits from this decision? BMC, Etixx – Velon teams. Who suffers? FDJ and Astana – non-Velon teams.
And RCS have been cosying up to Velon recently.
And – as always – the UCI is failing to run the sport properly. They should not have allowed this.

Larrick March 14, 2016 at 2:10 am

That’s a bit paranoid isn’t it? Sounds like a CN comment.

I’d read the original release as to why it was being cancelled as snow wasn’t the only issue Vegni talked about.

And Larry. Don’t worry, after all it’s only a pre-season race. ?

gabriele March 14, 2016 at 2:45 am

Here you are.

“Le condizioni meteorologiche in peggioramento per domani rendono impraticabile l’arrivo di Monte San Vicino.
A seguito delle previste condizioni meteorologiche per la 5a tappa Foligno-Monte San Vicino, pioggia – basse temperature – rischio di neve sopra gli 800 metri di altitudine, le suddette parti interessate hanno convenuto di annullare la 5a tappa, come in programma, evitando rischi per la sicurezza generale e la salute dei corridori partecipanti”.

By the way, no known weather forecast named snow “over 800 m” yesterday (note that they apparently said “700 m” to the teams). And we had no snow at all today, indeed. The “low temperatures” were well above the zero (the lowest recorded on the course was 2º on the finish line, most of the stage would have been raced with 8º-10º). No rainfall on the final climb. A total of accumulated 5 mm elsewhere. And it’s not like that things went better than what was forecast. This is exactly what known weather services were forecasting.
What safety risk? What health risk? How could they say that the finale would be “inviable” if cyclists, cars and a motorhome could eventually get up there without any major problem?

This is only a pre-season race, but as Martinello (ex pro, now TV commentator) said on Raisport, “this changes everything” (or was it Naomi Klein? 🙂 ).

Larrick March 14, 2016 at 3:48 am

So again we’re back to do you believe the person or not. I believe Vegni acted in good faith because mainly there’s no reason why he wouldn’t want the race to go ahead, especially on a Subday afternoon. He said that he was told to expect zero degrees at the bottom of the climb and rain. Concerned if cancelled that riders would be wet with busses stuck up the mountain. This seemed to be his main worry, not riding through some snow.

Of course the other side of the story is that he knew the forecast wasn’t that bad and that the stage would be fine but cancelled it anyway. Reading comments around the interweb today I’ve seen a lot of fanciful reasons for this. Sorry Gabriele but they all require a bit of conspiracy theory to go with them to make sense and I’d rather believe the Vegni was doing what he thought was right even if it turned out to be wrong.

BC March 14, 2016 at 8:44 am

Vengi is just the puppet. However, he got it completely wrong under pressure from vested interests. That is not a sign of good faith, rather weakness and lack of good governance and judgement. That he hasn’t publicly accepted his mistake, indeed the opposite, says much about the man and his governance. In showing such weak leadership he has moved the ‘protocol’ to a position where any self interested party can push for a race cancellation by claiming knowledge of future ‘Extreme Weather Conditions’ – nothing excluded. We have moved a long way from an agreement where the safety of riders was the main concern, to an inevitable private power game by vested interests, where riders or spectators are excluded from any knowledge of the process. We are now in a fantasy world, where claims can be made in advance without conclusive evidence, and outcomes of events can be influenced. No one comes out of this fiasco looking good except a few senior riders and teams who understand full well the sleight of hand that has been played. As for Vengi. The best that can be said is that he didn’t even take the trouble to check the facts, which were readily available, instead giving into pressure. In my view he is unsuitable for leadership, and has done the sport a great disservice.

I stand by my long held view that we don’t need ‘protocols’ and decision by unelected committee to deal with these issues. We need men of common sense and goodwill with the riders best interests at heart. I mean the riders best interests, not political side shows.

History shows that in general, this policy has served the sport well. Why change something if it’s not broke ?

PS Larry T. – you remain ‘esteemed’

Larrick March 14, 2016 at 9:15 am

BC. Straight away you are effectively saying that the weather forecast was manipulated so the stage could be cancelled. What proof do you have of this?

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 10:39 am

When the stage was cancelled at Paris-Nice, they all got in cars and they were fine.
This has happened at many other races through the years. And it’s been fine.
Vegni’s weather forecast doesn’t match the other forecasts. (You seem to be ignoring that.)
Why cancel the day before and why offer no alt. route?
No conspiracy theories there.
As you say, ‘I’d rather believe the Vegni was doing what he thought was right’ – it comes down to your belief.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 10:48 am

Well said, BC. The decision-making process on this has been put in the hands of non-neutral people (the teams concerned would instantly reverse their opinion of it benefited their rider).
It was fine before and now they’ve ballsed it up. But none of them are big enough to admit that it is now a mess.
Instead we get lies about riders’ health being in danger from the cold.
We don’t know what happened and how Vegni came to this decision – that’s the problem.
But his decision and the facts don’t go together, hence people are suspicious.
With Vegni and Cookson, we have ‘politicians’ in charge – people whose primary interest is others’ perceptions of them; because that’s what gets you up the greasy pole.
And there is now nothing to stop this being repeated in many other races.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 10:52 am

The ‘rider safety’ argument is constantly used because it makes you (i.e. Vegni) look good and it means that if others argue against that, it means they don’t care about the riders.
That’s why this rubbish is being perpetuated by the likes of Matt Brammeir (don’t even care to look up how to spell his name) and Tony Martin.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 11:07 am

Larrick, do you seriously believe that Vegni just made a mistake?
All of these things: the lack of the alt. route, the premature cancellation, the weather forecasts that disagreed with his – these were all being said within about an hour or so of his decision. Because it was clear – immediately – that this was a bad decision.
And you believe that Vegni somehow didn’t see any of these flaws?

Larrick March 14, 2016 at 11:18 am

J Evans- as Inrng stated above, they can’t all fit in the cars and they didn’t at PN. That’s what riders were complaining about and there were DNF’s and DNS’s where the reasons given were colds, sniffles etc.

As for the forecasts, the weather turned out better than any of them stated so it is equally possible it could have been worse. RSC are saying they lost 250,000 euros because of it. They did it because they thought it was the right thing to do. There’s no conspiracy and no dark arts occurring, simply people with different opinions and at the end of it the safer option taken. What would be interesting to know is what the silent majority think re riders and teams rather than the noise of a few.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 11:58 am

Larrick:
How many DNFs/DNSs were there after the cancelled Paris-Nice stage?
As DMC (a Canadian, I believe, who has raced) has stated elsewhere, you ride home you stay warm – and, besides, they were all out riding yesterday anyway.
The riders – such as Nibali – who have said that it wasn’t necessary have been vilified. Many others – such as Pinot, Ag2R, Bora, Giant – have been ignored by the media, whilst those who have supported the decision have been widely publicised.
The noisy few when it comes to riders are those of the teams who stand to benefit and those who stand to lose.
As many have stated, the weather forecasts did not match Vegni’s. That’s the crucial point. And it’s a point that was made that day. For example, as Gabriele said – March 12, 2016 at 11:10 pm – ‘What forecast did Vegni use is a great mystery. I went and a gave a look to the two more popular weather sites in Italy, and temperatures are fine. One doesn’t even consider it possible that the quite reduced rains might become snow. The other one refers to *possible* snow above 1000 mts.
On the “Cicloweb” forum, a fan who’s keen on weather forecast posted several more professional models which don’t give a hint of any risky situation, quite the contrary.’
I don’t know why you’re choosing to claim that the weather forecasts matched what Vegni said.
There was no good reason to cancel the race the day before, nor to not provide an alternative route.
And, personally, I don’t believe that Vegni is that incompetent.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Also, how is avoiding riders getting a cold a safety option? Is a cold that dangerous? Is that what the EWP was invented for – to avoid the risk of sniffles?

gabriele March 14, 2016 at 12:14 pm

“I’d read the original release”, you said.

Now you suddenly need to speak of “zero degrees at the bottom of the climb and rain” and “busses stuck up in the mountain”, both of which didn’t appear in the official note released as a consequence of the EWT.
The original release said that they were worried about “snow over 800 m” and the impossibility of climbing up the last climb. If the trouble was with the “stuck up busses”, they could just have gone for the B course which didn’t cross any big mountain over 800 m. But Vegni said no, defending that they couldn’t have climbed S. Vicino anyway.

Nothing of that can be found in ANY weather forecast. Not even the most pessimistic ones. Not even in the official and public data from the Regional Agency for Territory Protection. I’d expect that a person “in good faith” would show his sources, the meteo models, a chart, whatever.
And we’d like to know *why* they couldn’t go the usual way, waiting for the following day to take a decision. As it’s always been done – hence it factually *can* be done.

Larrick March 14, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Gabriele.

On Saturday Gregor Brown reported from the press conference that “Even in the valleys, near freezing temperatures and rain are due Sunday — conditions that would worsen on the climb to Monte San Vicino”
Read more at http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/03/news/398307_398307#k3LUGHT8jVx17r0D.99

Getting archived actual conditions is easy enough but I’ve struggled to find the forecasts. It would obviously help if they released the exact info and where it was from but I’m happy to take their word for it.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 1:03 pm

“Even in the valleys, near freezing temperatures and rain are due Sunday” – so race in the valleys.
Or see how it is on the day, even – with a race in the valleys an option.
You being happy to take their word for it doesn’t make it any more true. Where is this mystery forecast that Vegni supposedly had?

Anonymous March 14, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Odd that Vegni didn’t quote his forecast initially, nor has he since. That’s his proof, if he has it.

Larry T. March 14, 2016 at 9:34 am

Correct, but setting a precedent like this can easily spill over into the “real races” don’t you think? While reading the various comments I was thinking back when Rominger won the Giro. A stage that was supposed to go over the Passo Agnello(?) was stopped by an avalanche that buried a couple of cars driving in advance of the route. The quick-thinking organizers organized a new finish further down the pass in fear of further slides burying the race. Some grumbled (including me) about this being a gift to Rominger, but now they’ll simply cancel a stage when there’s a forecast for bad weather rather than make adjustments on-the-fly? Torriani was long gone by then, but whoever was in charge seemed to have a better grip on things than the current guys at RCS. BRING BACK ZOMEGNAN!

BC March 14, 2016 at 10:07 am

Larrick. I am not saying the weather forecast was was manipulated. I am saying that the information used was both flawed, incorrect and premature. As far as I am personally aware and from all the information provided by others and over the internet, the weather forecasts in Italy for that particular area never predicted the conditions Vengi claims. If he managed to find one it was an exception, and should have been compared to all the others. Even on the day of the decision, a day prior to the event, there were no known forecasts predicting such dire weather conditions. Incidentally, the picture posted of the finish was apparently way above the actual finishing line, so had little relevance to any decision. It was simply used as a justification for the cancellation. The fact that forecasts and subsequent videos and events prove the decision was floored don’t appear to persuade everybody.

Look. I am all for rider safety. However, in this case I seriously question that this issue was about riders or their safety. I am concerned about the precedents being set for the sport and the manner in which this decision was taken. All we are told is ‘the organizer, UCI and representatives of the teams’. If you feel that everything was done correctly, then you are perfectly entitled to your view. The evidence heavily suggests that there are serious questions to be asked about how, by whom, on what basis and why the decision was taken.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

There was no good reason for cancelling the race.
The weather forecasts were not bad: why did Vegni choose to follow the one that did?
When did you ever see a race cancelled the day before?
Why did Vegni refuse to offer an alternative route?
Since when was cold such a danger to riders?
Without answers to these questions, you start looking around for other reasons.
As I say elsewhere, I don’t know why he cancelled the race, but I know that there was a reason.
(And it’s not like cycling doesn’t have a history of this sort of thing.)

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

Reply was to Larrick.

BC March 13, 2016 at 3:59 pm

With all due respect to our esteemed colleague Larry T – and he’s half Euro and excluded from my general comments !

What is it about N Americans that make them so cock sure they are right, and their views should be listened too. After one major effort to undermine the future of the sport, they continue in their inane efforts to undermine the history, future and reality of our sport. The evidence is stacked against idiots like Phinney, has he not seen the video of the course ? Doesn’t he see irony ? – a major mistake, taken by the incompetent, of almost biblical proportions and his best shot is: “We must all stand together”. Really ?

I give up. Thank goodness for riders like Niballi for standing up to common sense and considering the reaction of the spectators. It would be good to see other senior riders joining him to register there discontent. That several posters here suggested waiting until the day of the stage, before making a decision is not going to change anything.

For RSC, Niballi and Astana are already suggesting they will ride the Tour rather than the Giro in case there is a repeat of this madness. There are going to be long term costs for the sport for behaving in this unprofessional manner.

Where are the UCI in all this – AWOL and silent again ! If you allow the inmates to run the asylum, don’t be surprised at the results.

Larry T. March 13, 2016 at 4:43 pm

While you’re slinging mud I think you need to aim at all the damn English-speakers who act like pro cycling didn’t exist until the day they started paying attention to it!
I still remember young Greg LeMond who couldn’t wait to embrace the culture he’d read about and saw photos of in bike magazines in Roland DellaSanta’s bike shop vs BigTex who just wanted to kick their Eurotrash asses and show ’em the USA was the best. The SKY folks aren’t much better.
Sadly this view seems to have taken over – which must be why they keep insisting pro cycling emulate North American sports franchise leagues?

Nick March 13, 2016 at 11:11 pm

Genuinely don’t see the parallel between Sky and Armstrong there; except that both were successful.

Larry T. March 14, 2016 at 9:38 am

To me SKY (with the exception of Wiggins?) seems to have the same mercenary approach to the sport as BigTex. All science and very little art. When it comes to success, based on what we now know about BigTex, are you sure you want to lump SKY in with him?

Anonymous March 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Sadly and unbelievably Brammeier calling Nibali a moron on twitter just confirms that opinion. It all deteriorates much faster than I thought. I anticipated a big bang, but not quite so fast. Seems they want to fight it out before the Tour de France. Brammeier is always so fast and loud calling fot others to respect him, seems he should work on his open mindedness and respect for others. Interesting to see if he deletes that tweet fast or not.

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Bravo Nibali.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Sorry for you J Evans, but a *great guy* like Matt Brammeier thinks otherwise. Here is his comment, while posting a photo of Nibali and a declaration of the Italian rider saying he might as well skip the Giro if something like this should happen again:

Matt Brammeier ‏@Mattbrammeier85 1 hour ago

Better you stay home & skip the whole season you narrow minded, selfish moron.

Yeah, it looks like mafia is definitely back in full style. The only difference is that this time it isn’t based in Italy.
I’m afraid Nibali is going to face a hard season from now on.
I just hope that all the fuss doesn’t step up a level and gets right into the political battlefield, because the price for the rider could be even higher than a couple of seasons where the teams who matter play against you.

Anonymous March 13, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Sorry, hadn’t seen your comment before posting mine. One good thing in all that: Now they can’t hide behind their see-through masks of “doing it for everybody and the greater good” nonsense any longer. It’s only themselves they are interested in.

Larry T. March 13, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Who the hell is Matt Brammeier and why should anyone care what he thinks? Don’t bother with the answer as I looked him up on Wikipedia…and my question stands. I doubt Nibali will waste any energy worrying about what Brammeier tweets, though I wonder if he’d say this to Nibali’s face?

BC March 13, 2016 at 7:44 pm

1023, or thereabouts in the world ranking. A rider of little or no consequence, other than his big mouth – he comes from Liverpool, where being mouthy is a requirement. He is a friend of Cav.

I very much doubt he would face up to the ‘shark’ ace to face. Nibali probably wouldn’t know who he was.

Interesting to see another “bullet dodger” from the past joining the debate, with Bugno, riders union President, voicing his support for the cancellation. The question this all raises is why are these people supporting the obviously incorrect decision ?

It is becoming more and more clear that this “protocol” has very little to do in its current form with rider safety, and everything to do with the continuing power struggle within Pro cycling.

Larry T. March 13, 2016 at 8:12 pm

This is the reason the riders union is a joke and pretty much always has been. One would think Bugno would consult with the union members before making a comment like that, but I’d guess he figures it’s more important to curry favor with CYA…er…RCS now? They really look like “Chicken Little”s after everyone’s seen the video of the” horrific conditions” they avoided by cancelling the stage. I hope the forecast for March 19th is for sunny skies and warm temps, otherwise MSR might end up cancelled as well?

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 9:49 pm

Do we need to look Wikipedia for Tony Martin, too?

“Matt, you’re a legend! I couldn’t say it better!”
[Retwitting @Mattbrammeier85]

Next step, some public lynching or what? o__O

Larry T. March 13, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Sorry, never heard of this guy. Tony Martin I wouldn’t need to look up but I honestly wondered who the hell is Matt Brammeier? Do I have to turn in my “esteemed colleague” badge now? 🙂

J Evans March 13, 2016 at 10:08 pm

All doing their masters’ bidding. (And also want their own jobs to be easier?)
I see Vegni is maintaining that his weather forecast said snow – anyone asked him what forecast?
He’s just pedalling the same lies about ‘rider safety’, citing Paris-Nice.
Paris-Nice where there was snow, where they stopped the race on the day when they had to, and where all the riders were fine.
I don’t know why he was so keen to stop the race, but I have my suspicions about which teams he is favouring.
What I know – and knew last night – is that his decision was not necessary.

gabriele March 13, 2016 at 10:10 pm

No, no Larry, I was jokin’: obviously Brammeier isn’t that famous (and that’s why he started the whole thing, I suspect), but it’s more worrying when a “star” rider jumps on. Inner dynamics of the peloton…

Nick March 14, 2016 at 2:47 pm

It’s odd, isn’t it? I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the riders’ association is now formally one of the voices at the table? That sort of thing falls apart quite easily if those who miss out complain about a collective decision, and in sport there’s always somebody who misses out.

Anyway, if somebody wants a real conspiracy: how about Vegni and RCS wanting the extreme weather protocol to look bad now, so they have more flexibility to overrule it later?

Ferdi March 13, 2016 at 4:57 pm

I dont ‘t know one reason why a guy like Lefévère should have a role in cycling. As far as I am concerned, he’s good for nothing. As bad for our sport as Manolo Saiz or Bruyneel.

Richard S March 14, 2016 at 12:02 pm

The problem here is that a committee of team owners is involved in the decision of whether a stage should go ahead or not. With World Tour points and whatever on the line team owners will defend their own interests. Lefevre has Stybar, who can’t climb, in the lead and Jungels a strong time trialist not far behind so shock horror he wanted the stage cancelled. Likewise BMC have half their team in with a shout. Astana on the other hand have a team leader who is a climber. I’m willing to bet if Astana had some sort of none climbing time trialist up there they wouldn’t be quite so upset. Basically you can’t have the teams involved and come out with a none biased decision. It has to be the race organisor in conjuction with the UCI who we would hope have no vested interest on the outcome of the race, other than that it passes off without incident.

Its interesting that it is RCS that is setting this precedent because surely they are shooting themselves in the foot. If major races can be cancelled because of the threat of potentially bad weather then they stand to be regurlarly cancelling all of their major races. Tirreno-Adriatco crosses the Appenines in March – constant threat of cold weather/snow -. Milan-Sanremo takes place in northern Italy in March – threat of cold weather (especially if we are considering cold rain a problem now). The Giro d’Italia crosses the Dolomites/Aps in May – potential for cold and snow every year. And even the Giro di Lombardia gets its fair share of rain and usually involves a quick descent to the finish. Would we consider that too dangerous now? Under this protocol would the race when Gilbert beat Scarponi in heavy rain even have taken place?

Lets face it, cycling takes place outside in Europe. Theres a fair chance of bad weather pretty much all the time. Crack on.

gabriele March 14, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Just four days ago, I was writing in this same page:
“The most important aspect is that this *protocol* shouldn’t become the formalisation of an old strategy by the strongest teams which tend to prefer not to race when the conditions would raise the level of unpredictability of the competition: they create pressure on the organisers, often mixing up the idea of danger with stages which are just a bit harder to control… this way, in case something bad ended up happening, even for reasons unrelated to the supposed danger, the predicament for the organisers would be huge – so they tend to “obey” or to be complicit”.
Eventually, it was even a bit worse than what I thought, albeit along those very same lines 🙁

Richard S March 14, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Exactly. I don’t think Vegni is a bad person, I just think he’s been put in an awkward position and allowed himself to be led/bullied by some of the pushier team owners/DS’s. I don’t get him bleating about the ‘dangerous’ situation at Paris-Nice though. As others have said, the race was stopped, the riders got in cars and everyone got back to the hotel without problem. Some of them might have got cold and some of them might have developed a sniffle, but I bet they did after their winter training rides too.

The Inner Ring March 14, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Comments will close on here soon as it’s become the trial of Tirreno rather than thoughts on the protocol.

gabriele March 14, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Agreed that everything which might make sense has been said.
However, it’s not like there’s no relation between the EWP and what happened in the Tirreno. I’d dare to say that the debate about the EWP had anticipated as a real risk what then duly happened.

J Evans March 14, 2016 at 1:11 pm

The protocol has provided the teams with power to stop races when it suits them.

MJJ1066 March 14, 2016 at 3:02 pm

This may be a trial of the TA affair, but if the extreme weather protocol gets played out with little to no transparency and the media (CN, especially) seeming to protect the interests of the organizers, then much of the above seems pertinent. As a fan, the loss of the queen stage due to dubious claims by the organizer and the backing of teams who stand to gain from the missed stage is pretty outrageous. I would have expected a lot more coverage and discussion of this as it seems the organizers and teams are abusing the EWP and harming the sport.

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