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VICENZA, Italy (AFP) — Wintry weather in the Italian Dolomites could force changes to the route of the final two mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia, according to organizers on Wednesday.
Concerns over the conditions expected on Friday’s 19th stage from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello, which will go through the Gavia and Stelvio mountain passes, were raised last week due to the unseasonably cold weather in the high mountains.
At 2,758 meters in altitude, the Stelvio is the highest point of this year’s race, which Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is currently leading with a 1:26 advantage over Australian Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
Organizers said the road over the Stelvio was clear and could be raced, but the climb and descent could be hit by severe weather.
Saturday’s 20th stage, the final day in the mountains, begins in Silandro and takes in four mountain passes with altitudes over 1,700 meters, before finishing at the legendary Trois Cimes de Lavaredo (2,304 meters).
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, whose parent company RCS organizes the race, the temperature could fall to as low as minus 14 degrees Celsius on Friday.
Organizers said they are “studying all possible routes” with a view to making last minute changes if necessary.”
Adverse weather conditions have already forced changes to the route.
Last Saturday, organizers had to pull the Col de Sestrieres from stage 14 because of freezing temperatures in the Italian Alps.
A day later, the finish line of the 15th stage, initially set up at the summit of the legendary Galibier climb in France, was moved 4.2 kilometers down the mountain because of snowy conditions.
The race finishes Sunday when the 21st stage leads the peloton over a mostly flat 197km from Riese Pio X to Brescia.
- by Alan “Danger” Zinniker Go to any high-level professional cyclocross or road race, and watch the professional European mechanics clean and work on a bike. They’re not dealing with workstands with finicky clamps that can crush lightweight carbon frames or seatposts, but take care of washing and adjusting their riders’ bikes with workstands that have [...]
BRUSSELS (AFP) — World champion Philippe Gilbert chases his first victory of the season as a strong field gets set to begin the five-stage Tour of Belgium on Wednesday.
The BMC Racing team leader pulled out of last week’s Amgen Tour of California to attend the birth of his second child but will line up for his home race in an optimistic mood, with the final stage suited to his climbing skills over the route used for the one day Liège–Bastogne–Liège classic.
“I hope to do something special on this stage which passes through my hometown. I know the roads by heart and the course is perfectly suited for me,” said the 30-year-old, who is still shaking off jet lag after his trip back from the American west coast.
The riders will cover the La Redoute climb three times on the final day, where Gilbert won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2011 after finishing third on the same roads one year earlier.
Should Gilbert falter, BMC can also count on his compatriot Greg van Avermaet to challenge for the overall title, while former world champion Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) of Switzerland is always a threat. Germany’s Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Dutchman Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) are also tipped for the podium.
Sprint finishes are also likely to feature Belgium’s best known racer Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma), who will take on Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) in what should be some gripping battles among the peloton’s speedsters.
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) is arguably the best hope among the French contingent, although the former yellow jersey holder is likely to use the race as preparation for Tour de France after fracturing his collarbone in mid-April and only returning to action last week.
This is the video I meant to post the first time. Next time I may press start after the final race instructions are given