Tour de France races on to Carcassonne despite 40°C heatwave

Chris Froome douses himself with cold water during stage 12 of the Tour de France
Chris Froome douses himself with cold water during stage 12 of the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Tour de France will race the full 205 kilometres from Rodez to Carcassonne on Sunday, despite forecasts of 38-40°C (100°F-104°F) temperatures for the southwest of France.

While professional cycling has an Extreme Weather Protocol and races have been cut or cancelled due to extreme conditions, the Tour de France peloton has accepted to racing through the heat wave.

The Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) riders association and their Tour de France representative Pascal Chanteur have been in contact with their riders, Tour de France organisers, UCI judges and team managers to find several solutions to help the riders.

The CPA confirmed that feeding will be allowed from the KM 0 until 10km from the finish. Riders can throw bidons to spectators without the risk of fines as long as it is done safely. The time limit has been extended to 20% of the stage time.

Race organisers had hoped to create water sprays along the stage to douse the riders but this was stopped due to water shortage rules in the area of the stage. 

Local authorities are expected to try to cool the roads by spraying water on the surface in key points.

"On Sunday, the rise in temperatures continues, in particular in the South-West where values close to 40°C will often be reached," an official French weather warning said, with a third of the 101 French departments given an orange heat wave warning. 

No red warnings [heat that causes adverse health effects] have yet been issued.

"It will be the same for everyone," Tadej Pogačar said of racing in the heat before the recent Alpine stages

"You just have to keep your body cool enough. I don't think anyone likes to race for five hours in the 40-degree [heat], I don't even think it's healthy for us."

Pogačar has taken to wearing an ice vest as he signs on and lines up before the stage starts. He also puts ice cubes down his socks before riding to the start and ice packs on his neck during the stages.

The Tour's final transition stages from the Alps to the Pyrénées via the Occitanie region will see the peloton ride into a heat wave rising across Europe from North Africa and Spain.

Fortunately for the riders, the worst of the heatwave could hit southwestern France during Monday's third rest day.

Temperatures are expected to fall to a more reasonable 32°C for Tuesday's 178.5km stage from Carcassonne to Foix in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

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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.