By Gregor Brown
The 2019 Giro d'Italia has woken up or raced through grey skies and rain every day so far, leading many to consider this is the worst edition in years for weather.
Insiders say that the rain and water-logged roads are definitely nasty and that keeping warm and dry, or failing to do so, could take its toll as the peloton turns north and into the Alps.
"Personally, yes, I think it's been worst or rainiest grand tour starts, but let's hope it gets better from now on," Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) told Cycling Weekly.
"It definitely makes you suffer a lot more because of the weather, but it's also the long stages and it's a tough first week."
The Luxemburg champion spoke at the start of stage six, which was about as far south as the Giro will travel this year. Instead of dolce vita sunshine, rain and cold temperatures fell on the Lazio and Puglia regions.
On Wednesday, they finished in a downpour with temperatures around 12°C. Thursday the peloton began under clear skies, but clouds and rain moved in for the finish near the other side of the boot along the Adriatic Coasts.
"Definitely, it's the worst that I've experienced," Chad Haga (Sunweb) said. "I heard that there's been worse Giros but this is the wettest I've had so far.
"Will it take it's toll? For sure. Yesterday was not super high energy expenditure with the legs but my body was just exhausted last night."
Haga's team-mate and 2017 Giro winner Tom Dumoulin abandoned yesterday due to a crash he suffered in stage four. Now, rain or shine, he and the team are aiming for stage wins.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) sits second overall to pink jersey and race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). His team-mates underlined that it is important to dress for the weather to avoid problems later in the third week.
"I wouldn't say [it's the worst in years], but rain is never enjoyable," New Zealander Jack Bauer explained. "There's a 50 per cent chance it can come any day, but we are very lucky with the clothes now."
"I think it's really important, especially to save energy that you choose the clothing well," added Esteban Chaves. "In cycling, we have many choices now and make the right decision is really important: keep warm, take a shower.
"And normally with the bad weather, you are always very close to being sick, especially when you are in shape. It's important to also dry your hair, keep warm, take a hot drink. Sometimes you forget it, but it's important."
The race is nearing the end of its third week, but with the rain and the three 200-kilometre plus stages, it seems as though the 2019 Giro has already endured more than six stages. This could sting some as they fight for the final overall on the 2000-metre passes.
"I don't know. Some are really good with it, but others will pay," Chaves continued. "You never know how the body responds but for sure it's an important thing."
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