By Nigel Wynn
— BMC Racing Team (@BMCProTeam) February 5, 2017
The final stage of the 2017 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain has been shortened by the race organiser after high winds and rain hit the area.
Stage five of the race was originally scheduled to run from Paterna to Valencia over a 130.2km route.
This has now been shortened to only comprise laps of the finishing circuit around Valencia - five laps of 7km, 35km in total. The section including an ascent and descent of Alto del Oronet has been completely removed.
Several teams, riders and staff had posted images of the poor weather as they arrived for the stage start. After a meeting, the organiser announced that the stage would be shortened and the start delaying until 1pm local time.
Katusha-Alpecin communication manager Philippe Maertens was one of those who had expressed concern before the announcement that the stage would be shortened after witnessing official race structures blown over in the winds.
Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski had also expressed his opinion that rider safety should come first.
Eurosport reporter Laura Meseguer posted a video of people trying to prevent a gazebo from blowing over.
Upon the announcement that the stage would be shortened, some riders felt that this still did not go far enough. Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) noted: "Thanks to the organisers for thinking of our safety. But not sure what's more dangerous. Wind or a 180 rider 35km criterium."
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) goes into the stage as overall race leader, and given the flat, short nature of the revised final stage it is likely that he will take the final overall win.
The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana isn't the only race to have been affected by high winds. Stage four of the Dubai Tour was cancelled on Friday due to sandstorms affecting the race.