Extreme weather a factor in Tour Down Under stage design

Changes made to stages 3 and 4 due to 40 degree plus heat

With South Australia in the middle of a heat wave as temperatures soar into the low-40's Celsius, it was no surprise stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under was shortened in accordance with the UCI Extreme weather protocol. The 11 am race start though remained unchanged.

As the third day of racing finished with three circuits in Victor Harbor, there was minimal disruption in shortening the stage. With all but one of the six stages finishing with circuits, the possibility of weather-affected stages is factored into the course design of the Tour Down Under.

Speaking to Cyclingnews on the start of stage 3, Turtur explained the decision-making process in shortening the stage and added safety measures implemented across the stage, including an additional feed zone after 47 kilometres of racing.

"We have spoken with Matthew White the team managers representative, Adam Hansen the rider representative, and Wayne Pomario the chief commissaire and together we had a discussion," Turtur told Cyclingnews. "The organisation proposed an arrangement for today and everyone was in agreeance, it is just a matter of implementing the extreme weather protocol and it works well."

Although stage 3 of the race started in the seaside town of Glenelg and finished on the coast at Victor Harbor, northerly winds ensured a hot day in the saddle for the riders.

The initial implementation of the UCI Extreme Weather protocol resulted in mixed outcomes, as organisers, riders and commissaire tried to come to agreeance with the course of action. With the major stakeholders now engaging in open dialogue and the UCI's policy there to follow, Turtur believes there are no negative connotations associated with implementing the protocol.

"We did it last year. There are several races throughout the year, be it snow, wind, heat and so on, there has been plenty of additions and alternatives made throughout the year at races," Turtur said. "I don't think it makes a difference to the result either. At 25, 26 kilometres it is going to be a sprinters day so I don't think it will have a massive impact."

For Hansen, discussion with Turtur and the race organisation of the Tour Down Under has also been beneficial for the riders. The Lotto Soudal rider explaining to Cyclingnews in Glenelg that shortening of the stage works for all parties.

"We made an agreement on conditions for the riders and the best safety of the riders and what the race organisers can do to also make it fair," he said. "I think because of last year's problem, he [Turtur] made a lot of the stages with circuit finishes this year and we were able to reduce the course by lap. It has actually worked out well."

Stage 4 is also expected to be raced under high temperature with a forecasted high of 41 degrees and low of 27. As the only stage not to finish a circuit, the decision has been made to instead start the stage at the earlier time of 10:30 a.m., while the mass participation Bupa Challenge ride has been cancelled for the first time in the history of the race.

Despite the weather-affected adjustments to the stages thus far and the possibility of more to come, the 20th edition of the Tour Down Under has lived up to expectations for Turtur with the pre-planning of stage finishes assisting in the smooth running of the race. 

The Cyclingnews Podcast in association with Prendas Ciclismo and Pinarello

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