The decision fell on Thursday night: the second stage of the Route d’Occitanie will be only 34.3 short kilometers due to the Tarn prefecture’s decision to cancel any external event despite the fact that the department was on red alert because of the heat waveread details here). The first day of the race, already, was marked by very high temperatures as the thermometer rose to 39.5°C in the race bubble at the end of the stage. Inevitably, the subject and this situation do not leave anyone indifferent. “Even before the event started, I was surprised that no one talked about the weather conditions at the meeting when we knew it would go up to 42 or even 43C. We should have brought it up but no one did. We, at Conti, follow the movement, we cannot afford to say much”lament DirectVelo Mickaël Leveau, sports director of the Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole team. “The situation was not discussed at the DS meeting not even by the team representative appointed by the UCI. Is it an oversight? In any case, it’s amazing.”supports Alain Deloeuil, the technician of Cofidis.
« WILL THE ORGA LET US CONTINUE TWO DAYS LIKE THIS? »
This first stage of 174.4 km has already made the organizations suffer. “Today went well for my runners. But we felt that it was very hard for the organizations. Stringing together two days like this would have shattered them. It was almost 40°C on arrival. It was time for it to end even if the stage was not hard “says Mickaël Leveau. “If we had put the finish at the first step of the line and not added the 40km loop, it would have been very good. The organization could have taken this initiative. The race scenario would have been identical, we would have had the same winner and the same podium.”Rudy Barbier suggested afterwards.
The Israel-Premier Tech sprinter has doubts about the current situation and this 34.4km stage this Friday. “I am divided: if we cancel the stage, some will say that we stopped for nothing and that the riders are complainers. But on the contrary, I really think that doing 150 or 180 terminals would have been dangerous. I know my limits. Much is much. But there are riders who play for a contract for next year, neo-pros who want to show off… And maybe they would be willing to do more than others for X or Y reasons. But I think we have to put a limit. 41°C for running is crazy. You cannot be four or five hours on the bike with 41 ° C “let go of Picard’s seasoned jock at the end of Thursday night. “If the prefect hadn’t said anything, would we have done the whole scenario? Would the organization let us chain two days like this, at 38 and then at 41°C? Even if you open the ravito after five terminals and close it five terminals from the end, these are details. When are we going to set a limit? Will we be riding when it’s 45°C too? What does the cycling union do?.
“NOBODY HAS BALLS”
Rudy Barbier explains therefore that it would probably have been necessary to take measures beforehand. “Paradoxically, it is the Tarn prefect, who has nothing to do with cycling, who protects cyclists”, he jokes There is no way to overwhelm the organizing committee by this: Rudy Barbier is simply wondering about the long-term evolution of this situation. “Well, we are going to run, the organization and the television channels will be happy and I understand it too. But for us runners… Maybe something should have been said. And I’m also thinking about Saturday’s stage, in the mountains with crazy temperatures, again. But no one has the balls to say anything. Who could do it in this platoon? No one, or perhaps a Valverde, with the bottle he has. In any case, doing 150 km in less than 40°C sucks. For this week or later”.
Alain Deloeuil knew this situation too well, hot, just a few hours after knowing the drastic reduction of this Friday’s stage. “We have to adapt. We have no choice. We are not yet safe from another change and a complete cancellation of the stage if the prefect of Aveyron so decides. 35 km is a Minimes race (smile). It will be done in 45 minutes. But there will be a ranking, a leader… There is food and drink there. I put myself in the place of the organizer, myself who is in the organizing committee of the Denain GP. I know what it is and the difficulties they may have. They want to keep the stage a bit and it comes from good feelings “try to analyze, before imagining that a cancellation would not necessarily have been the best solution either. “And on the other hand, as long as there is no accident or big problem, we will always say that it will be sustainable to the extent that it is his job to drive. I think that from a certain temperature, it would be necessary to consult with the jury of the marshals to make the job an extreme condition clause, as can be done if there is ice or wind of madness for example. Heat can be an extreme condition, 40°C or more”. However, extreme temperatures can already trigger the UCI extreme weather discussion protocol. Cette réunion peut être convoquée por el Président du college des commissaires mais aussi por l’organisateur, le représentant de l’AIGCP (les équipes), le représentant du CPA (les coureurs) ou encore por un représentant de l’UCI s’il is present.
“IS THAT THE RIDERS ALSO AGREE”
While some seem to question the usefulness and legitimacy of a 35km stage, could the situation change this afternoon? “Runners might refuse to start if there were bosses. But there is no more. And then, there are so many problems, especially with this UCI points system… It’s a set of things that make it work normally.”, imagine Alain Deloeuil. Mickaël Leveau, you’re worried. “It’s good to keep a stage, but more than 35km is too short and it will be even more violent for the riders. I had proposed to do 70 or 80 km creating a circuit at the end”indicates that a network of exchanges has been created with the entire DS and the organizing committee to “Make proposals”.
“One day we will have to adapt. In Argentina, the stages start at 4:30 p.m.remember Rudy Barbier. “Why not run in the morning? For TV, but one day you are going to have to adapt because it can happen again over the years”, insists Alain Deloeuil. But the stage will start at 2:45 p.m. from Belmont-sur-Rance, to respect the starting time. So how do the teams intend to approach and prepare for this stage? “I am going to leave you a little earlier, with the bus. They will travel about twenty kilometers just to turn their legs before the start. For the stage, it will be based on feeling and cardio. But for me, it’s almost worse. As it is very short, it seems violent to me. But they are professionals, they have great adaptability. If a Conti like ours had more weight, he would have quietly asked for the cancellation or a neutralization with a stage played in a convoy. But it is the WorldTeams that decide”, declares Mickaël Leveau, as if to convey a message. At Israel-Premier Tech, a morning departure of one and a half hours is scheduled from 9 in the morning. “To ride when it’s not too hot yet”says Rudy Barbier. On the Cofidis side, there too, we will drive upriver from the stage. “We will drive on the spot before the start. We will go there and then we will drive between 1h30 and two hours depending on the weather conditions”. It now remains to be seen how this strange step will unfold. Alain Deloeuil, here too, will surely have some advice to give at the briefing. “It is also up to the cyclists to agree. We are going to go down a false flat, then there will be two kilometers of descent. It may go quickly but it’s up to the riders to be reasonable so as not to add to the initial difficulty.”.