On the heels of statements from Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team coach that the Italian might skip the Giro d’Italia over fears that key mountains stages could be canceled because of bad weather – as Tirreno-Adriatico’s fifth stage was on Sunday – CPA president Gianni Bugno released a statement saying he doesn’t understand those who take issue with the decision.
“I don’t understand those who complain despite what has been done for the safety of the riders. We fought for a long time to get the opportunity to intervene in case of extreme weather conditions during the races,” Bugno said in a statement sent to media on Sunday.
After Tirreno-Adriatico organisers RCS Sport decided to cancel stage 5 late Saturday evening, Astana team coach Paolo Slongo drove to the 1,200m-high Monte San Vicino stage finish and made a short video that showed the snow at the finish area had melted. He was convinced the stage could have been contested, giving Nibali a chance of victory. Nibali tweeted two videos made by Slongo, adding: “Today’s finish!! Good sense should always prevail, I’m sorry for the people who love this sport!!”
Slongo told Tuttobiciweb that he, team manger Alexandr Vinokourov and Nibali would need to decide whether to change Nibali’s plans to race in the Giro d’Italia, another RCS Sport race.
“If every time there’s a risk of bad weather people behave like this, we’ll look at our plans for the season,” Slongo said. “There are three altitude finishes scheduled and we can’t allow that Nibali puts everything on the Corsa Rosa (the Giro d’Italia) and then not have his say.”
Bugno blasted the critics of RCS Sport's decision to cancel the stage and praised the race organisers for putting rider safety ahead of pressure to go on despite the weather.
“Finally now the riders can count on a protocol that protects them and considers their safety a priority over everything else,” Bugno said. “It saddens me to hear that there is still discontent. I regret that in the name of personal or private interests it is questioned the validity of a protocol developed for the common good.
“I feel bad that is not taken into account the effort made by the organizers, the sponsors and the organization to protect the riders and apply, even with sacrifice, the new regulations,” Bugno said. “Thank you to RCS for what has been done and I dissociate myself from the absurd controversy over the decisions, correct for me, that were taken."