By Nigel Wynn
The opening stage of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour was shortened due to high temperatures.
Organisers made the decision to remove the final 14.5-kilometre circuit of the stage as temperatures touched 46°C. There were also concerns about the stage over-running due to a lower-than-expected average speed.
The stage started under clear, sunny skies in Qasr al Sarab and was scheduled to finish 174km later in Madinat Zayed, but was altered to just under 160km.
>>> Abu Dhabi Tour 2015: What you need to know
With little in the way of shelter on the dry, sandy route, the riders were suffering in the extreme conditions. Despite the flat course and relatively steady pace, several riders could be seen struggling at the back of the bunch mid-way through the stage.
Italian sprinter Andrea Guardini (Astana) took the stage win ahead of Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep).
The UCI tested out its Extreme Weather Protocol at the Giro d'Italia in May this year as a reaction to complaints from teams and riders about excessive heat or cold during races. The protocol will come into force properly in 2016.
Riders staged a strike during stage five of the Tour of Oman in February after temperatures went above 40°C and sandstorms blasted the peloton. The stage was subsequently neutralised.
Average temperatures in Abu Dhabi for October are usually closer to 30°C.
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