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July 26, 2017
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  • Hinault in Liège-Bastogne-Liège 1980 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR_N3odC0-o ). Can turn on auto-subtitles & translate. Not exactly accurate though. What are the thoughts on the riders voting on whether the race should be cancelled or not? I guess there’s the chance it’ll get political though. My initial ones are that those who don’t want to accept the risks, don’t have too—they can pull the pin at any time. If you’re fool hardy enough to get through the conditions then you likely deserve the respect that comes with it. Dunno really.

  • Dave

    One thing which should count against the EWP softening cycling too much is that one of the CPA delegates responsible for working with organisers at a couple of early season races this year has been Adam Hansen, one of the hardest men in the sport.


    At the same time, the EWP is clearly needed because there’s such a disparity in the quality of race organisation.

    ASO have proven themselves to be responsible in this aspect and the riders won’t have many issues with them – they made a couple of relatively small modifications to the running of LBL last night (skipping an area with bad road conditions and allowing team car supply later in the race) and at Paris-Nice they initiated the use of the EWP to curtail a stage.

    Where it will come in handy is for making sure there is some accountability for the (mostly Italian) organisers of races with poor safety records. If they won’t change voluntarily, they’ll need to be dragged along kicking and screaming.

    • Neuron1

      Would you be so kind as to provide examples where an Italian race resulted in an increased incidence of injury or hazard as compared with one run by ASO or another organization. Rider gipping or whining doesn’t count. Actual facts would be appreciated.

  • awesometown

    “old man yells at cloud”

    • H.E. Pennypacker

      Disagree. I think he was pretty measured and thoughtful in his commentary. Listen to it. Hardly the ravings of an old man shaking his fist at progress and change.

      • aranwatson

        Agreed. But if one reads the title alone, it sure does give the impression of old man yelling. Thoughtful article, wish the title were differently chosen.

        • Neuron1

          The comments by Hampsten are clearly well thought out and measured. Titles are meant to grab readers, thus reading the article is a must.

  • Mark

    frostbite and bronchitis, these are real medical conditions; and while an individual athlete might be willing to suffer these conditions in return for a stage/tour leading victory, it is likely unfair to expose the peloton, many of whom aren’t racing for personal glory.
    i feel that well thought out extreme weather rules in advance of the stage/race are fairest on everyone, and can be implemented in such a way to not detract from the racing. for example, look how individuals (Nairo Quintana) through no design of their own have benefited from confusion in their absence. surely it is up to those in contention (Nibali) and their team mates to initiate the “glorious battles” rather than relying on the road turning uphill or hoping for a wet descent.

    • ebbe

      But what is the stages where the road turns uphill and/or there is a long descent are where your particular strengths lie? What if those course characteristics are the entire reason that you chose to participate in that (stage) race? What if these particular stages are the stages you plan to initiate that glorious battle? What if your entire team is picked up for that? And what if what is those precise stages that you had planned to initiate that glorious battle are all of a sudden cancelled? And what if the cancellation was completely unwarranted, sine there was no bad weather and no excessive danger at all? ;-)

      Nobody is ‘counting on bad weather’ to win a race. But lots of riders are counting on difficult climbs and long descents, because that’s where they can win. You’re confusing the (controllable and predetermined, long in advance) inherent difficulty/danger of a course with the added danger/difficulty of (uncontrollable) weather conditions.

    • jules

      I think you have touched on the key point Mark. While it may be possible to race in snowy conditions and protect against frostbite or other serious health problems – for most pros, it’s a job. How would you or I feel about being told it was OK to work in sleeting rain? Not too enthused I’ll bet.

      So pro cycling is different – it’s meant to be harder than an office or construction job. But there’s gotta be limits. As Mark said, while Nibali may see snow as one step closer to winning the Giro, that’s not how most pros would see it.

      I think the problem is in assessing the EWP as an Either/Or proposition. Yes – it’s possible to race in harsh conditions, such as snow. No – pro shouldn’t be made to race in it on any kind of regular basis. The solution – I feel – is to come up with an agreement by which race days are limited, such as to key stages of GTs and classics. But not forcing riders to race the GP des Hoesheardofeit like that.

      • Neuron1

        At TA Nibali and several other teams requested that the stage not be cancelled based on a weather forecast, but based on actual conditions. Regarding the Giro, Nibali requested that the alternative routes be published in advance, so that in the event of a weather cancellation/rerouting the teams would know what to expect. Not unreasonable. I guess that people that work in the North Sea drilling for oil, climb high buildings or take care of patients with infectious diseases just take the risks in stride and carry on with their jobs.

        And BTW descending in inclement weather is a part of the cycling skill set.

  • ridein

    Bike racing should not kill a racer when doing their job. I do admire what Hampsten did back then, but that doesn’t mean the racers should put their lives in unnecessary jeopardy either.

  • Ronin

    It’s highly unlikely this or any extreme weather protocol will improve safety. There’s little evidence historically that riders are especially liable to serious injury during very cold or wet/snowy weather, and hence, you’re unlikely to see any improvement in the safety record. If there would be an improvement, it would simply be due to the fact that races are more frequently cancelled during inclement weather and hence the normal risks of bike racing are absent. In fact, my informal and half-assed study of the matter has revealed no case of any rider dying or being seriously injured otherwise, due to water, snow, or ice on the road, or generally due to cold temperatures. And there are reasons for that. Riders are far more cautious when there’s water or snow on the road, speeds are reduced and hence impact forces are reduced, races traditionally have already been cancelled or rerouted when there’s ice on the road, and if you’re pedaling even at moderate intensities at temps around 0, you’ll normally generate enough body heat to ward off hypothermia.

    Historically, the injury riders are most liable to in cold conditions, per se, is frostbite. We all know of at least one famous case of this, right? There are some others prior to Hinault’s case. Yet, can anyone point to any case of serious frostbite, the sort that leaves some long-term or permanent damage in the last ten years? How about since Hinault!? This issue would have a completely different character, if, after this race or others, riders were ending up with serious or permanent frostbite damage. They are not. So, where’s the safety problem?

    No, today’s riders, especially the soft Americans, just don’t want to race in the cold. They are now sufficiently well-supported that during the winter they can train in the warm sun. Hence, they’re no longer acclimated to racing in the cold. We know for a fact that prolonged exposure to the cold results in significant adaptations. If you haven’t experienced this yourself, you need to get out more. These adaptations won’t make you invulnerable to the cold, but they will make it far more tolerable and greatly reduce your risk of cold-related injuries. So, they’re now showing up in northern Europe unacclimated to the cold and finding it shockingly miserable. No duh. Consciously or unconsciously, some of them have pushed for an extreme weather protocol because it’s miserable for them to race in the cold. And, they’re getting away with this, putting the traditional spring calender in jeopardy, because the “Safety First!” zeitgeist on the internet, especially among Anglophones, but doubly especially among soft Americans, is creating a din that race organizers are responding to with some sensitivity.

    Sorry, I don’t support this. I don’t support risking the traditional calender, when no case has been made that racing in the cold as has traditionally been done is any more dangerous than otherwise. If you don’t like racing in the cold, don’t. If you can’t handle it, get out of the sport, or get good enough that you can manage to only race in the warm sun. You don’t get to sacrifice the traditional calender, which is such an important part of the tradition and drama of the sport, for your own comfort. And, if you’d rather chase optimal fitness in the sun than acclimate to the cold, that’s on you.

    P.S. Someone who’s job it is to do this, who has access to records, if there are any, and who has the audacity to defy the Anglophone herd online, ought to compile a list of all the deaths and serious injuries in top shelf, men’s pro road racing since WW2 or since some other relevant year. Each injury ought to be categorized as to type, seriousness, cause, circumstance, and other relevant factors. With this, we can get a clearer view of where the real risks are in pro racing, so that we can we start to talk sense about safety and not put the sport itself at risk at the hands of emotionally overwrought and squeamish jackasses online who all seem to be in a race for the compassion podium.

    • Neuron1


  • Larry @CycleItalia

    Pro cycling trades on images and memories like Andy’s on the Gavia but seems reluctant to produce any epic stages or races these days. Amazing that with all the “advancements” in clothing and equipment we’re bombarded with that the races are MORE affected by dodgy weather instead of less.

  • Derek Maher

    Good article by Andy. Brings back some memories of racing in the 80,s. Weather was not a factor when running a race the riders both pro and amateur just got on with it and kept the sponsors happy.


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