Stage 19 of the 2020 Giro d’Italia has been shortened by 100km after riders refused to ride the entire 258km course.
Instead of rolling out of Morbegno this morning, riders will now drive the first 100km of the stage in their team buses, before completing the final 150km to the expected sprint finish in Asti.
The request was made by the CPA riders’ union, with the organisation’s president Gianni Bugno saying the reasons are the stage is too long to ride in the rain, which would hamper riders’ immune systems and increase their chances of getting infected with Covid-19.
5km had been added to the original 253km route, with stage 18 having been a tough mountain day including an ascent of the Stelvio in freezing conditions.
Italian television reported that riders also protested to Vegni 10 minutes before the planned start, and that Lotto-Soudal and Ag2r La Mondiale were the main teams instigating the decision, although Ag2r’s Larry Warbasse has said all teams were involved in the decision. FloBikes report a round of applause went up from the riders at the start line after race organisers had agreed to shorten the stage.
La Flamme Rouge also report that after rolling out of the start in Morbegno, riders then stopped in the road to wait for their team buses, who had already set off for the finish.
The appetite for a long day in the saddle before three ascents of the Sestriere on stage 20 was low, with even Thomas De Gendt saying he didn’t fancy getting himself the breakaway.
“Thanks to the jury and the Giro organisers for listening to the CPA request. Health is the priority, especially in this Covid-19 period,” a statement from the CPA read. “Reducing today’s stage will not diminish the show, but will allow the immune defenses of the riders not to be put at greater risk.”