Temperatures close to 40°C and a local weather warning have forced the organiser of the Vuelta a San Juan to reduce Monday's stage 2 by 28km.
The stage will still finish on the gradual climb to Alta Punta Negra but after around 130km of racing rather then the 160km planned. The stage start time has been put back 30 minutes and the riders will now cover three instead of four circuits on the rolling Interlagos circuit west of San Juan.
The pre-race schedule has also been reduced to give more time for the riders and race caravan to avoid the heat, with sign-on opening only an hour before the race. The race will roll out at 4:02 p.m. local time, with the start of racing at 4:12 p.m. The stage is scheduled to finish at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Similar weather conditions are forecast for Tuesday but temperatures are expected to fall to 33°C later in the week and rain forecast for the weekend.
The UCI introduced an Extreme Weather Protocol in 2016 that took away the final decision on weather from the race organiser and included riders and team in any decision process. Race organisers had occasionally pressured riders to race in extreme heat and snow but riders demanded better protection to avoid the extreme heat during the Tour of California, the Tour Down Under and other summer races, and the extreme cold and snow that sometimes occurs during the Classics and Giro d'Italia.
However the Extreme Weather Protocol only applies to WorldTour and Hors Category races. The Vuelta a San Juan is a 2.1 category race and so a more informal approach was taken, with race organisers considering the weather warning issued by government agencies in Argentina.
The peloton suffered in silence during Sunday's stage 1, riding on flat roads south of San Juan in temperatures of 38°C. Peaks of 42°C were detected out on the road under a blazing sun.
Riders tried to stay cool by wearing ice-vests pre race with the likes of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Bernard Eisel (Dimension Data) wearing them in the early kilometres of the stage. Riders drank as much as they could, with teams handing up far more bidons and drinks that usual. The peloton let an early break go clear but then rode tempo for much of the stage to limit the effects of the extreme heat. The stage came alive in the final kilometres for the sprint, with Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) taking victory.
At the finish riders poured cold water over their heads to cool down and tried to find relief in the air-conditioned team vehicles. Most opted to ride the 10km back to the hotel in San Juan post stage, hoping to find relief in the evening temperatures after the 8:00 p.m. finish.
Cyclingnews saw several soigneurs return to the team hotel from a local supermarket with shopping trolleys loaded extra water and drinks for Monday's stage 2. Highs of 38°C are forecast for the afternoon.
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