Despite predictions of worsening weather, with potentially heavy rain and cold temperatures on the horizon, RCS Sport, the organisers of Giro d’Italia, have given the green light for the 16th stage from Livigno to Santa Cristina Val Gardena to proceed.

The stage, which covers a distance of 206km, is set to lead cyclists from Livigno to Bormio via the Passo di Foscagno. Following this, the cyclists would originally ascend to a height of 2,498 meters on the Passo dello Stelvio, before making a left turn and descending the Umbrail Pass into Switzerland. The final part of the race will see riders continue their journey on a valley ride to reach the final point at Val Gardena.

Challenges and Adjustments on Route

The route has already undergone adjustments due to extreme weather conditions. The summit of Passo dello Stelvio was removed from the stage following recent heavy snowfall and avalanche risks.

The riders, their CPA riders association, and RCS Sport have previously had disagreements concerning riding in extreme weather, causing disruption and tension in the races. Last year, the race to Crans-Montana in Switzerland was reduced from 199km to a mere 74km. The cyclists travelled the Gran San Bernardo via team bus due to a potential risk of bad weather that didn’t end up materialising.

We understand that the participants expressed concerns about descending the Umbrail pass in near-freezing conditions, especially after climbing it in cold rain. They suggested removing the Umbrail Pass section from the stage and using a bus to reach a new starting point after signing on in Livigno.

In compliance with UCI rules and the Extreme Weather Protocol, a meeting was held on Monday afternoon in Livigno. The meeting attendees included Joey Ermens, the chief UCI commissaire, RCS Sport race director Mauro Vegni, Stefano Allocchio, the race safety officer, race doctor Massimo Branca, David McPartland, a directeur sportif with Jayco AlUla, and Cristian Salvato, a representative of the Italian riders association.

Following a vote, RCS Sport confirmed that the stage would continue as planned, provided ‘normal’ weather conditions. An additional team car would be allowed on the race to better assist the riders, while the broom wagon and commissaire cars would help distribute extra clothing.

Safeguarding Measures Amidst Unpredictable Conditions

A ‘parking zone’ will be set up at the summit of the Umbrail Pass, after 50km of the stage, and the race could be temporarily stopped for three minutes to allow cyclists to change clothing. The official statement from RCS Sport indicated that in case of ‘extreme weather conditions’, the stage would be temporarily stopped until safety conditions are met.

The statement, however, leaves questions unanswered about the criteria to define ‘extreme weather conditions’, when ‘safety conditions are met’, or how cyclists will be protected and transported if the stage is temporarily halted high on the Umbrail Pass.