The organiser of the Giro d'Italia has confirmed major modifications to Friday's 19th stage of the Giro d'Italia to avoid the riders racing in the snow and the risk of ice on the descents.
RCS Sport made the decision on Thursday evening as temperatures fell and dark clouds covered the Dolomites in a thick blanket of bad weather. "We've opted for plan B. The weather is getting worse and we didn’t want to push our luck, risk the rider's health and that of the spectators," Race director Mauro Vegni told Cyclingnews.
"It's still be an interesting stage, allowing for long-range attacks and a good finale."
The original race route included the Passo Gavia (2618m high), where Andy Hampsten attacked in the snow to set up victory in the 1988 Giro d'Italia, the Passo dello Stelvio (2758m) with the 139km stage finishing at Val Martello.
The new 160km route starts as planned in Ponte di Legno but then descends east to Ponte Mostizzolo to tackle the Passo Castrin (1706m) and then climb to the original finish at Val Martello (2059m).
Saving Tre Cime di Lavaredo
RCS Sport confirmed that Saturday's final mountain stage is also at risk. The 203km route includes four high passes before the finish at Tre Cime di Lavaredo but they are currently covered in snow and with temperatures below zero.
"We're at least hoping to save the finish at Tre Cime id Lavaredo. We're monitoring the weather and road conditions closely and we'll make a decision when we can," Vegni said.
"Even if the weather is bad, a mountain finish is never really a problem. The problem is the cold and snow on the descents. We won't take any unnecessary risks."