There's nothing tougher than a long, hard fought bike race. That is, unless it's got the added measure of some abhorrent weather conditions thrown in
Whether or not you agree that protocols should be put in place to prevent riders having to race in extreme weather conditions, there’s no doubt that past battles in the mud, rain and snow have made for some memorable spectacles.
Here we take a look at some of the outstanding bad weather racing moments that stood out in our minds, but as always, let us know what we’ve missed in the comments section below.
There was so much snow at the 1980 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège that it was dubbed ‘Neige-Bastogne-Neige’. But that didn’t stop Bernard Hinault, who was willing to sacrifice the feeling in two fingers to win his second La Doyenne.
The Frenchman finished alone, over nine minutes ahead of second place Hennie Kuiper, in a race which saw 110 of the 174 members of the peloton down tools and head to a warm bath by kilometre 70.
1988 Giro d’Italia, stage 14
Andy Hampsten has become synonymous with the gruelling pass over the Gavia on stage 14 of the 1988 Giro d’Italia, despite actually coming second to Dutchman Erik Breukink. But it was Hampsten’s attack through the blizzard in his Oakley Pilot Eyeshades and bare legs that stood out, as he claimed the maglia rosa which the American kept until the end of the race.
1992 Clásica San Sebastián
“It was the worst weather I’ve ever race in” said winner of the ’92 edition of the Clásica San Sebastián, Raul Alcala, who rolled in solo in a seemingly endless torrential downpour. The dicey conditions in the Basque Country saw even seasonsed riders likes Miguel Indurain take a tumble on the steep slopes of the course, but the apocalyptic conditions made the 11th edition one of the most memorable.
There’s something about the bad weather and Paris-Roubaix that makes for an iconic image, the mud, the cobbles, the sheer brutality of the race, are all ingredients that make Roubaix so unique.
But the adverse weather has never since truly reached the levels it did in 2001, when Servais Knaven rode solo to victory ahead of Johan Museeuw. The riders were barely visible through the mud and grime that covered them by the end of the race, while crashes were at no shortage with the slippery cobbles wreaking havoc.
2010 Giro d’Italia, stage seven
Winning in the rainbow jersey is special in itself, but winning in the manner Cadel Evans did on stage seven of the 2010 Giro d’Italia as world champion was certainly an extraordinary moment. Evans raced ahead of Damiano Cunego and Alexander Vinokourov from the breakaway group, on a rain-soaked stage that took in two sectors of the white roads of Strade Bianche.
Vinokourov took back the pink jersey after the stage, with the likes of Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali losing time to the Kazakh in the treacherous conditions, but it was the Australian Evans that took the day’s glory on a memorable stage in Tuscany.
2013 Milan-San Remo
The 2013 edition of La Primavera, sadly for Gerald Ciolek, tends to remembered for the incredibly heavy snow that caused the race to be stopped and restarted later on down the road.
2013 Giro d’Italia, stage 20
More from Italy, which is ever reliable for producing inclement weather just when a bike race is on. Vincenzo Nibali battled through the blizzard in the maglia rosa to the top of Tre Cime di Lavaredo to seal victory in a foul-weathered 2013 Giro, which had already seen a stage cancelled because of the snow.
2013 World Championship Road Race
Like most world championship races, nothing really happened for the first six hours of the 2013 edition, except it rained. It rained hard. So much so all the Brits dropped out before the finale, and we were left with shots like this of riders navigating their way through floods on the Tuscan circuit.
2014 Tour of Poland, stage one
If you’ve ever cycled through a headwind, imagine that expenentially worse and you’ll probably have what it felt like to be in the break on stage one of the 2014 Tour of Poland. Navigating trees in the road probably wasn’t in the job description.
The extreme wind and rain caused carnage throughout the stage, with a number of riders taking tumbles including a huge crash in the peloton with around 47km to go. Eventually the stage came back to a sprint, with Ag2r’s Yauheni Hutarovich riding to victory.
2014 Tour de France, stage five
There’s nothing quite like seeing the yellow jersey of the Tour de France power its way cross the slippery, muddy cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. But that’s what cycling fans were treated to in 2014, as Vincenzo Nibali showed his quality bike handling skils to ride to third place on stage five (won by Lars Boom) and put time into his GC rivals Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde.
The stage also saw Chris Froome abandon, prompting questions over whether cobbles should be included in the Tour route. Nonetheless, the stage was one of the most captivating of that particular race, so much so that the pavé returned in 2015 – but with drier conditions.