Heatwave cuts Route d'Occitanie stage to just 36km

LISLE JOURDAIN FRANCE JUNE 16 Stage winner Arnaud Demare of France and Team Groupama FDJ refreshes himself at finish line during the 46th La Route dOccitanie La Depeche du Midi 2022 Stage 1 a 1744km stage from Smac to LIsle Jourdain RDO2022 on June 16 2022 in LIsle Jourdain France Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

COVID-19 isn't the only thing derailing races this week. The heatwave that has struck Europe has seen the second stage of La Route d'Occitanie to just 36km. 

Riders have suffered in the heat at races in the past week, at the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of Slovenia, with some unable to perform at their best and others unable to race on, through heatstroke and dehydration. The risk to riders at La Route d'Occitanie, which takes place in the hottest south-western region of France, was considered too great on Friday. 

"The start of the second stage, initially set for Graulhet, is cancelled due to an intervention from local authorities over the Tarn region being on red alert for heatwave," read a statement from the race organisers. 

"A new start will take place in Belmont-sur-Rance in the Aveyron region for a short stage of 36km. The finish is still due around 15:30 in Roquefort. Media and TV coverage remains in place through France Télévisions and Eurosport."

The stage will still retain its planned finale but gone are the early pair of category-2 climbs and the long drag up the Col de Sié. The route picks up from Belmont-sur-Rance for the run-in. 

The riders will plot a flat route for nearly 30km before hitting the cat-2 Côte de Tiergues, a 4.3km climb with an average gradient of 4.5%. A short descent follows before a final kick up to the line.

At just 36km, it's sure to be an explosive hour of racing. 

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) leads the race after winning Thursday's opening stage

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