The Volta a Catalunya organisers' decision to cancel the crucial stage 3 final Vallter ascent because of the risk of avalanches and poor weather has been met with regret by some members of the peloton, but their appreciation, too, that riders' safety took priority over any potential 'spectacle'.
None of the riders questioned by Cyclingnews at the start of stage 3 on Wednesday felt there had been any alternative but to cancel the stage finish, as well as two previous first category climbs. Before the broadcast began, Catalan TV showed live images of the summit finish on Wednesday afternoon, with gale-force winds blasting banks of snow on the ground. Temperatures at the foot of the climb, nearly 700 metres below, were set to be below freezing and there were reports that the chill factor at the summit was at -20°C.
Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), who won the overall the year the race tackled Vallter 2000 in 2013, said that it was for the best. "Definitely. Always in these climatic situations, nobody's more disappointed than the riders although," he joked, "maybe the guy who lives on top of Vallter is. Seriously, though, we're the ones that would have preferred it, but in terms of safety, respect for the riders, and so on, I think the organisers have done the right thing in deciding that."
"It does change the race quite a lot, I don't know if there was an option to look for another summit finish. Now it looks like the whole race will be decided on La Molina, assuming we can get there tomorrow."
CPA delegate Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) was not present at the "crisis committee" meeting, with another rider representing the CPA and peloton, but he says, "it's a good decision. Now we'll have to see about tomorrow but it's good what they've done."
Canadian Michael Woods (Team EF Education First-Drapac) told Cyclingnews, "It's a little disappointing but for me personally, I'm actually really happy with the decision. We reconned that climb a couple of weeks back and we actually had to turn back seven kilometres from the summit because it was so cold.
"We knew it'd be freezing at the top again and at this point in the season, we don't want to take risks. From a health perspective, you could have really put yourself in a bad place in this case."
"I think the course will change, it's probably going to be decided much more on time bonuses, which would favour a guy like Valverde for me. But for me personally, it's a better introduction to racing that suffering on the climb like I was supposed to do today."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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