As an example of Europe's abnormal colder-than-cold cold-snap, on Monday, the daytime/night-time temperature range for Brussels was 0 degrees and -4 at night. Meanwhile, way down in balmy Mawson, one of the largest bases on the Antarctic mainland, they also had a daytime maximum of zero, but at night it was only -3.
On Tuesday, the freezing cold conditions continued, throwing Stage 2 of the Paris-Nice stage race into disarray and leading to a shortened - but frighteningly fast - stage of only 46.5 kilometres, covered at the blistering pace of 52.13km/h. Today's stage from Thiers to Craponne-sur-Arzon was also cut to 118 kilometres, but again, this in no way detracted from the standard or speed of the racing, with the first group of 111 riders averaging 43.9km/h on an tough, undulating parcours that contained five categorised climbs.
Cyclingnews diarist and Discovery Channel recruit Tom Danielson echoed these remarks in his diary from Stage 3, saying: "Today was probably the worst weather we have seen here so far. Normally, I think they would not hold the race. Starting at 300 meters with wet roads, icicles everywhere, and temperature at -2°C, we thought it was not possible to start. Especially since the last half was all above 1000 meters. But, we did start and we did 120 km all out."
So while the temperatures are freezing, the racing is red-hot. The fastest way to get through this cold snap, it would seem, is to ride as quickly as possible!