• The peloton paced itself in the heat of South Australia. (Getty)
The opening stage of the Tour Down Under was shortened on Tuesday at the peaceable request of the peloton that laboured in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.
By
Sophie Smith

Source:
Cycling Central
17 Jan 2017 - 5:14 PM  UPDATED 18 Jan 2017 - 11:24 AM

Professional Cyclists Association (CPA) delegate Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) on behalf of the bunch spoke with UCI officials and race director Mike Turtur to arrive at the decision, following Extreme Weather Protocol that was introduced last year.

“I like the heat so I don’t mind so much but I have to speak for the riders and a lot of riders were complaining that it was too hot,” Hansen said. “From the riders’ side, we all wanted it. It wasn’t me going around to all the riders, it was more the riders coming up to me. And it wasn’t just Europeans, it was also quite a few Australians too.

“I went to the UCI and they were okay with it and then we just needed the okay from Mike Turtur, and he agreed in the end. It was good all three of us could make an agreement together.”

Tour Down Under title hopeful Richie Porte (BMC) described the hot and blustery day out as one of the most extreme he’s experienced.

“I think for me that was the hottest day I’ve had on the bike,” Porte said. “Common sense prevailed there and the stage was cut a little bit short. I know it’s not great for TV, but I think it’s nice for us riders that there is finally a bit of solidarity [on] hot weather rules.”

The revised 118.5km stage from Unley to Lyndoch was reduced by 26.5km, one lap of the finishing circuit, to the relief of the 133 starters. The common consensus was the decision had no effect on the outcome of the flat race that Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) won in a bunch sprint from Danny van Poppel (Sky) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Ewan too hot for boiling TDU peloton
The Santos Tour Down Under field was baking in 40-degree temperatures but Caleb Ewan was even hotter to take the stage and overall lead.

“The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern,” Turtur said. “We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen and with our chief commissaire, Alexander Donike, and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance.”

Hansen said the decision was a step in the right direction for rider rights, which several argue have been previously ignored in extreme weather scenarios. The peloton during the penultimate stage of the 2015 Tour of Oman stopped under the shade of a bridge in protest of searing conditions some claimed caused tyres to explode.

“The riders just want to be listened to,” Hansen said. “Once a decision was made and the riders heard it you could see that they really felt it was going the right way. It was like, ‘Wow, we said something and they listened.’

“It’s not like we wanted to cancel the race or anything like that, it was more we said our thoughts and the UCI and race organiser took action for the riders.”