Riders and teams have largely spoken out in support of the decision of race organisers RCS to cancel stage 4 of the Dubai Tour due to adverse weather conditions. While disappointed that the Queen stage would no longer go ahead, the general consensus was that it was necessary for safety reasons.
Despite strong winds, there had been hope that the stage would go ahead after the route was shortened on Thursday evening. Teams and riders made the lengthy journey to the new start in Hatta, but after lengthy discussions, a decision was made not to run the stage. A short time trial was touted as an alternative, but commissaires dismissed it, saying that the rules prevented it.
Bernhard Eisel (Dimension Data) was one of the riders that spoke with organisers during the discussions in Hatta and said that everything had been done to try and run a stage. “It’s definitely the right decision, and the organiser made a big effort to make the race happen, it’s just weather that you can’t predict,” he told Cyclingnews. “At the same time, the teams and riders made a big effort to drive out here. We tried. John Degenkolb even suggested doing a small time trial, but the UCI said it was against the regulations because it would change the race that was planned. If you shorten the stage or cancel one, then it’s a different story.
“It’s in the UCI regulations that you can’t put in a different stage. It’s definitely the right decision. RCS is one of the organisers who always looks after the riders, shortening stages, cancelling stages and it’s not the first time. The riders are really grateful, and we accept the decision.”
Eisel’s teammate Mark Cavendish said that he would have been happy had the stage gone on as planned but stood by the organisers and his fellow riders, saying that it wasn’t his place to be selfish about the decision.
“It’s disappointing, but at the end of the day we can’t be selfish about it. Like I said, I don’t mind the wind. I like racing, but it’s not right for me to be selfish, and I think that the organisers made the right decision,” said Cavendish.
Race leader Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step) also supported the ruling and said that the decision came is another big step forward in increasing rider safety at races. “I think I can speak for all the riders when I say that I’m happy with the cancellation of the stage because the weather is really dangerous,” Kittel said. “It’s an important decision in the whole process of rider security. Today it was simply not possible to race. I respect the organisers for taking that decision.”
BMC's Samuel Sanchez said that he hadn't often come across these conditions and when he had the decision had been the same. "The only spectacular thing for fans in these conditions are crashes and we would have been flying. In my 18 years of professional cycling, I have seen conditions like these only a few times. Last year in Almeria and a couple of years ago in Murcia and both times the races were cancelled. So, RCS made the right decision."
Eisel, who has been part of the UCI’s Athletes Commission, added that the incident highlighted the need for a proper rider representative structure. “The UCI commissaires blamed us and the teams for not having a spokesman before the race that they can go up to and talk to,” he said. “I take that, I think that is the CPA’s fault, but it’s right. In every race, there should be a representative. One for all the teams and a rider and this didn’t happen. Still, they invited all the sports directors and some of the riders so we’re happy.”
Below are just a few of the responses to Friday's news.
Did the organisers make the right call in cancelling stage 4 of the Dubai Tour?— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) February 3, 2017
An important moment today at @dubaitour when the riders came together and organization listened. Safety first.— Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland1) February 3, 2017
A big thank you to RCS sport and the @dubaitour organizers for recognizing the unsafe racing conditions and cancelling the stage today— Kiel Reijnen (@Kielreijnen) February 3, 2017
Bit gusty out here...! pic.twitter.com/G0Kopc18l0— Alex Dowsett (@alexdowsett) February 3, 2017
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