Not many riders will have opened the curtains on the morning of stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia and rubbed their hands at the prospect of 212 kilometres in the rain and snow but Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) sensed an opportunity.
"You know?, we woke up, we saw rain this morning, and Hugh said ‘we have a chance to win the Giro today’," revealed Carthy’s teammate, Tejay van Garderen on Monday morning.
However, Carthy’s enthusiasm was soon dampened as he turned up to the start and discussions began between riders and race organisers surrounding possible amendments to the route.
In the end, due to concerns about the heavy precipitation forecast in the Dolomites, the high-mountain passes of Fedaia and Pordoi were removed, cutting the total distance from 212km to 153km and the total elevation gain from nearly 6,000 metres to less than 4,000.
Speaking at the start in Sacile before the decision was taken, Carthy made it clear he was happy for the stage to go ahead as planned.
"Today’s stage was 212km and I focused on 212km,” he said. “If they want to cancel the stage, they can cancel the stage, I don’t care, but I prepared for 212k. I’m ready for the stage."
As for whether there were sufficient safety grounds to amend or cancel the stage, he added: "I don’t know – it’s not for me to say. As riders we have to act together and make a decision together, but it’s not for me to say. On my own I can’t say.
"I want to do the whole stage, I want to finish in Cortina, but if they cancel it they cancel it. It’s not my decision."
While several riders voiced their support for the changes to the route, with the descents of the Fedaia and Pordoi causing particular concern, it appears EF-Nippo were among those who wanted to continue as planned.
Bahrain Victorious’ Damiano Caruso suggested as much when he pointed out that certain teams had spoken in favour of going ahead during online disucssions via the riders’ union, the CPA.
That was confirmed by EF-Nippo’s own Italian, Alberto Bettiol, who spoke to Italia television before the decision was made.
"We spoke via the CPA chat. We’re happy to start but it’s up to RCS Sport," Bettiol said.
"We can’t think too much, we have to focus on one thing at a time. We’ll follow the decision of all the riders but it’s 6 or 7°C, we know it’s raining and we’re ready."
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