Weather conditions in Cali, Colombia are threatening to disrupt the schedule of the UCI Track World championships, which get underway on Wednesday. A heavy, 20-minute rain shower on Monday was enough to put the track briefly out of service and curtail an open practice session for participants.
The Alcides Nieto Patino velodrome is covered by a roof, but has open sides, meaning that the track is not completely protected from the elements. While the complex is said to be unaffected by mild rain, the heavy shower on Monday was sufficient to soak the track and cause flooding in some of the velodrome’s tunnels and passageways.
Although the velodrome was quickly returned to a usable state that allowed athletes to complete their training, it was an ominous precedent considering that more rain is forecast in Cali later this week, specifically on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening during sessions of the track Worlds. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, a decision on whether to alter the schedule will be taken on Tuesday evening.
Ever since 1996, when the road and track Worlds began to be held separately, the UCI ruled that only indoor tracks should be used for major championships. The roof over the Cali velodrome means that it meets the criteria, but its exposed sides mean that it is still liable to be affected by the weather.
Indeed, even before Monday’s rainfall, Worlds participants were acclimatising to another peculiarity of the Cali velodrome – the wind that gusts through the sides and across the track.
“The wind changes its mind every five minutes, which makes it fun choosing wheels. But at the end of the day, everyone has to put up with it," Australian sprinter Shane Perkins told AAP.
Australian sprint coach Gary West said that conditions could prove especially testing in team events but was confident that his riders could adapt. “There were times today, particularly in the team sprint efforts, when it got a little windy but they got through it and they were joking about it at the end,” he told AAP.