Is bad weather part of professional bike racing? Or should races be cancelled in extreme conditions?

Stopping or diverting races due to extreme weather conditions is a contentious issue among fans of professional cycling.

Few would disagree that rider safety should be paramount, but some argue that extremes of weather are part and parcel of racing and shouldn’t lead to the cancellation of events.

Already this season we’ve seen some races altered due to weather conditions, including stage three of Paris-Nice due to snowfall.

We recently asked Cycling Weekly readers for their opinion on whether races should be stopped or shortened in extreme weather, and we present a selection of answers here.

Do you agree, or disagree with any opinion expressed here? Let us know in the comments section below.

>>> Ten times bad weather made bike races even tougher

Icy roads or high winds are too dangerous for racing. A dusting of snow is fine, blizzard conditions (or other conditions) where visibility is reduced to a point of it being dangerous to proceed at speed should also stop a race. So, also, should deep snow. These athletes deserve safe working conditions like the rest of us. Their lives are worth more than a race and we should respect that.
Becky Trower

I love the way some cyclists are praised for their attitude of riding on after a crash, covered in blood and in obvious pain but ridiculed for complaints of bad weather.
Steve Hislop

One man’s extreme is another man’s competitive edge – that’s the nub of the problem.
Paul Webb

Weather happens. If riders choose to not start or stop during a race then that is between them and their teams. Snow is far less dangerous than extreme heat. Races should be re-routed if there is a genuine danger, such as at Milan-San Remo with the rock fall, but otherwise let them get on with it. Gives braver riders a chance to shine, too.
Giles Cudmore

Fabian Cancellara discuss a riders strike on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Oman

Fabian Cancellara discusses a riders strike as a result of extremely hot conditions on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Oman

I have to train in all conditions on west coast of Scotland, why can’t they race in it?
Brian Kerr

I’d consider ‘extreme’ being where cyclists/spectators lives are at risk, so yes to those circumstances. But it’s a little harsh to stop/shorten a race based on foul weather when a lot of riders come to the fore in harsh weather. They deserve to have their day just as much as the man that loves climbing in 30 degree heat and blue skies.
Phil Nunez

The UCI needs to be extremely clear on exactly what ‘extreme weather’ actually is. Races should not be cancelled the day before. The decision should be made the morning of the race/stage. Also there should always be a back-up plan.
Gretta Long


Watch: Wet weather riding skills


Rider welfare should be paramount. Racing is dangerous enough without adding more just for TV ratings.
Tomas Mulqueen

I believe rider safety needs to be addressed in a broader sense than just poor/extreme weather. Issues like poor course preparation or layout, riders being hit by camera, team, support vehicles, etc. need to also be dealt with. A rider union or some other governing body should be created to protect rider interests and safety. Race promoters have their own interests and priorities as do team sponsors, the riders need equivalent support.
Joseph Dowski

  • Derek Biggerstaff

    ???

  • Stevo
  • Derek Biggerstaff

    Have you ever ridden a pyrenean descent in cold rain. I did once, a couple of years ago, and wound up in Lourdes hospital with pretty serious hypothermia. It took about five minutes from feeling absolutely fine to being in a potentially fatal condition. One of the signs that you are reaching a dangerous condition is when you stop feeling painfully cold and start to feel quite serene. Fortunately for me I knew this from my first aid training many years ago. At that stage it would be very easy to just carry on, as you are no longer suffering. The problem is then that you would pass out fairly soon and wake up dead. I was wearing more protective gear than the pro,s do during a race in these conditions so I’m mystified at how they handle it so well, but even so, please have a heart! they suffer enough surely. Cheers
    P.S. This happened to me on the twentieth of July!

  • graham

    There as got to be a point where it is too bad to race I accept that. However I think we are getting to the point where races are either stopped or cancelled for very flimsy reasons, one of cyclings great attractions is that riders are tough and show up a lot of other sportsmen up in this respect (in particular 22 people who kick a round ball around a field for 90 minutes). I was speaking to a friend recently and said that it was about time we had a proper Paris Roubaix, Wind,Rain and mud. I also heard Magnus Backstedt say this, the next thing I see is that the organizers are thinking about cutting out one section of cobbles because they are covered in mud. Now unless my understanding over the last sixty years of what Paris Roubaix is all about is wrong, surely this is all part of the race. What next cut out the Pave because its bumpy. In my mind a lot of the people putting comments on line have no knowledge of cycling history or tradition

  • Bob D

    Unless there’s a real chance of death or serious injury, the answer is no. Races weren’t stopped for “extreme weather” before. So why start now? Also look at that picture of Andy Hampsten winning the ’88 Giro… now imagine if these new rules were brought in back then. That iconic image wouldn’t exist…