Van Avermaet: It took some balls to cancel Tirreno-Adriatico stage

BMC riders support decision to cancel queen stage

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) has commended the decision by Tirreno-Adriatico race director Mauro Vegni to cancel Sunday’s stage, saying that it took ‘balls’ to make such a decision. On Saturday evening, Vegni confirmed that stage 5 would not go ahead due to snow along the route and at the finish.

While there were some murmurs of discontent, the ruling was met largely with support from riders and teams. “I think it is a good decision if you hear that there is a lot of snow on top of the mountain and the conditions are like they are and they don’t give a good forecast,” Van Avermaet told BMC press officer Georges Luechinger.

“I think the race director had some balls to make this decision. I think they made a good point and it’s good for the riders.”

BMC was among the favourites for Sunday’s stage to Monte San Vicino with Tejay van Garderen. After a strong team time trial on the opening day, the American currently sits fourth in the overall standings at just nine seconds back on race leader Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep). The cancellation of the stage now limits the chances of the traditional general classification riders of taking the win, although the final time trial is an opportunity for van Garderen. Van Avermaet is also in contention now, just ahead of Van Garderen on the GC and on the same time.

Despite losing out on a key stage, van Garderen has already expressed his unity with the organisers and their decision. After number of questionable decisions by race organisers at other races, van Garderen’s teammate Manuel Quinziato is happy that the riders’ safety is finally being put first.

“First of all, I’m sorry for the cycling fans and the organiser because it is never nice to cancel a race. But, I really welcome this decision because it’s years that we have the impression that our safety isn’t being taken into consideration,” said Quinziato. “We are the only sport that goes on in any condition. It doesn’t matter if it rains, there’s 70kph wind or it’s snowing. Things are changing, and that’s an important sign and we will give the biggest show possible on Monday or Tuesday.

“Cycling is a special sport, it is an epic sport but safety has to be the first thing like it is in any sport. That’s all we ask and they did this in accordance with what we ask, so I’m happy that RCS took this decision with the rider’s association and that for me is a step forward.”

Racing will now resume on Monday with a lengthy 210km stage to Cepagatti. The lumpy circuit finish makes it a good day for the classics riders, but for now they’re enjoying an impromptu rest day.

“Will take an easy day and we will try to relax a little bit,” explained Van Avermaet. “We are still in the race and that is the most important thing. We will approach the other stages like we did before and Monday will be a good stage for me and then we will see how it goes.”

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