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ADELAIDE, Australia (CT) – Thursday’s stage 3 of the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under will be shortened by 26km due to a forecast maximum temperature of 41ºC. Race director Mike Turtur confirmed on Wednesday evening that two of the stage’s three finishing circuits would be removed, after consulting with rider and commissaire representatives.
“The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern,” said Turtur. “We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) and with our chief commissaire and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance.”
The stage was set to be run over 146.5km from Glenelg to Victor Harbor but the changes mean the stage will be just 120.5km instead. The alteration comes a year after stage 1 of the 2017 Tour Down Under was shortened mid-race after riders complained to Hansen.
As Hansen told CyclingTips on Wednesday, that experience helped guide the course design for this year’s race.
“Because of last year, Mike [Turtur, race director] has made the race adaptable,” Hansen said. “As you saw there’s many finishes where there’s loops for the final now so he can cut it short.
“He’s also used roads that are … [safe for] the fire brigade where they have access out [in case] of fire outbreaks and things like this. So he’s taking extra measures to enforce this and make sure this can happen.”
The UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol is a document that lays out the procedure “when extreme weather conditions are anticipated prior to the start of a stage”. Notably, the document doesn’t refer to particular temperatures when making a decision.
“You can’t compare — 45 degrees in one place and 45 degrees in another place are totally different things,” Hansen said. “And that goes the opposite way. You ride in minus 5 and it’s dry, it’s not so bad. But rain and three degrees? That is just a nightmare.”
“It’s more the safety of the riders in the sense of the roads they’re on,” Hansen said. “Also start time and things like this. You know, he [Turtur] might make one stage shorter [or] start early, you never know. It’s basically what we can do.”
The Extreme Weather Protocol spells out seven potential actions that can be taken in the case of extreme weather:
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. Neutralisation of a section of the stage/race
7. Cancellation of the stage/race
Riders faced hot conditions of up to 38ºC on Wednesday’s stage 2 but according to Hansen, there were no complaints within the peloton.
“A few guys asked questions but no one’s … last year everyone was stressing, you know,” Hansen said. “It was nothing like last year — last year was much hotter. Last year guys were complaining. This year it’s … yeah it’s hot, but it’s [Tour] Down Under. You know, you do Paris-Nice and you complain, then don’t do Paris-Nice.”
Tomorrow’s stage is still expected to start at 11am and finish just before 3pm, despite the reduction in distance. Friday is also expected to reach 41ºC and could also be shortened.