An hour before the start of Saturday’s 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia, race organisers have announced that the climb to Sestriere has been cut from the route due to bad weather.
The stage has been lengthened by 12km with a summit finish still expected at Jafferau. The riders will now race for 180 kilometres, taking in the Val di Susa valley before the final climb to the finish.
Taylor Phinney, competing in his second Giro d'Italia was quick to praise race organisers RCS for their decision, taking to Twitter to say, "Must thank @rcssport for having the riders' backs and altering today's route. Finish in Bardonecchia is the same but no Sestriere. #giro".
The stagel started as planned at 12:45 C.E.T.
At the start this morning in Cereve, Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni was at least hopeful of saving tomorrow's stage from Cesana Torinese to the Galibier, telling reporters that "we're still waiting on confirmation from French authorities but at least we' hope to save the stage."
The riders started the stage wrapped up for another wet day in the saddle.
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) summed up the general feeling in the peloton about cutting the climb to Sestriere from today's stage and the probability that Sunday's stage will be reduced to just 50km and finish above Valloire after climbing the Col du Télégraphe.
"We take enough risk as it is already and for us to go up there and stop the race and get in buses would be stupid. I think the race organisers are smart in doing the right thing because it's apparently snowing a lot at Sestriere," Vande Velde said, while sheltering under a spectator's umbrella.
"I think we've had enough spectacle already in his Giro. We've had a lot of rain, a lot of crashes and a lot of guys are sick."
"If tomorrow's stage is cut, it really won't change things that much. It's a fantastic climb and it'll still be a great race. Short stages are always insane. It won’t be long and arduous but it'll be great for TV."