Cancellara speaks out for the peloton after snow hits Tirreno-Adriatico

The day after the snow-covered finish on Terminillo, the Tirreno-Adriatico peloton faced a long stage in heavy rain to Porto Sant’ Elpidio and the riders were still debating if it was right and safe to race in the snow and how bad weather conditions have to be before racing is suspended to protect their health. Riders were worried about their safety out on the road and about becoming ill before Milan-San Remo and the spring Classics.

Several riders took to Twitter to vent their anger and posted photos of themselves after the stage to Terminillo. Others tried to find a smile for Monday’s long stage in the rain. If there is a silver lining to the pain and suffering of racing the final part of Sunday’s stage in the snow, it is that the debate about introducing an Extreme Weather Protocol has now become more urgent and more important, especially for the riders.

The conditions at the 1675m high finish at Terminillo were tough but similar to those riders had experienced other times during the Giro d’Italia and in other spring races. The overall contenders raced in heavy snow for just the final two kilometres and were able to quickly reach their team buses parked 500m away.

The rest of the peloton faced a tougher ordeal and spent more time under the heavy snow, which covered the roads in the final 10 minutes of the stage.

One rider told Cyclingnews that the gruppetto containing many of the sprinters and domestiques, which finished more than 20 minutes behind stage winner Nairo Quintana, were forced to ride in the heavy snow for the final six kilometres of the climb. They became cold because they were unable to climb out of the saddle due to their wheel slipping in the snow.

Italian riders Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) and Luca Paolini (Katusha) are the senators of the Italian gruppo and expressed their anger via Twitter.

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) also vented his anger, tweeting: “This has nothing to do with fun. Hope all the riders are safe arrived #TirrenoAdriatico” and “The winner had not this condition like this riders there must be a change for some rules #weatherCondition #rules”

“They knew for 90 percent sure that it was going to snow,” Cancellara told Cyclingnews on Monday, suggesting that race organisers could have moved the finish lower down the climb to avoid the snow.

“The road was white, it was covered in snow. In Italy, they call it ‘ciclismo storico’ but I’m not interested in making history or what Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali did in the forties and fifties. It’s 2015. If we want legendary cycling, then let’s race with only a fixed gear, with one bidon for a whole race, and without team cars…. I like to be part of spectacular racing but there have to be certain limits.”

Cancellara sad that he was speaking out for every rider in the peloton, just as he did in the Tour of Oman when the riders refused to race as temperatures were over 45C.

“Fortunately I was well placed at the finish at Terminillo (57th at 12:33) and the winner was fine too but we’ve got to think about the whole peloton and the riders who work early in the race for us and then finish in the gruppetto. They were the ones who rode most in the snow and were cold at the finish,” he said.

“I raced in Oman in 49C and here at -2C. I think there are limits to when we should race. I’ve taken a stand for everyone and I’ll do it again. I won’t let people offend me just because of my opinions either. I know that racing is racing and business is business but everything is connected. We’ve got to be adults and I think the weather and the risks the riders face are two important things we have to discuss and improve together.”

“I’m sure that there will be a big change regarding the riders’ health in the next year or two.”

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.