RCS Sport called off the stage last night due to the risk of cold rain and snow, which has yet to fall in central Italy’s Apennine Mountains.
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Astana‘s coach Paolo Slongo drove to the top of the 10-kilometre Monte San Vicinio climb this morning to see the conditions at 1200 metres. It allowed him a moment to reflect on the big goal of the season, the three-week Giro this May, and RCS Sport’s quick decision to cancel today’s stage.
“The snow’s not there,” Slongo told Tutto Bici. “We’re bitter because the race was distorted and BMC will win the final classification and take home serious WorldTour points.
“If they act like this every time there is severe weather risk, we will review our plans. There are three summit finishes at the Giro d’Italia, we cannot afford for Nibali to aim everything on the Giro only not to be able to express his talents. With [team manager Alexander] Vinokourov and Vincenzo, we’ll decide what to do. Right now, he may decide to change his plans. “
Nibali, who has won all three Grand Tours, could instead take aim at the Tour de France again. Last year, he won a stage to La Toussuire and placed fourth behind Sky’s Chris Froome. In 2014, he won the overall.
When reached by telephone about his comments, Slongo said: “We’ll evaluate the idea of Vincenzo riding the Tour instead of the Giro. We planned that Fabio Aru would target the Tour this year but it wouldn’t be a problem having Vincenzo at the Tour, too. It’s something we’ll look at.”
The Giro, which runs from May 6 to 29, will climb higher mountain passes in the Alps where weather could cause problems. Snow ruined the Giro already in the past. RCS Sport cancelled stages and came under fire for its handling of the 2014 Stelvio stage.
Awareness is raised now, however. The UCI created a extreme weather protocol for 2016 that allows for organisers to sit down with other stakeholders and consider cancelling the stage – which happened Saturday night in Foligno. In Paris-Nice, ASO referred to the same protocol to cancel its stage midway on Wednesday.
“Vincenzo is great climber and it’s not fair that he targets the Giro and then the mountain stages are possibly taken out,” Slongo added. “That could be a reason to study and so eventually our plans for the season.”
Nibali, who has won Tirreno-Adriatico twice already, sits 24 seconds behind Zdenek Stybar (Etixx–Quick-Step) with only a flat stage and a 10.05-kilometre time trial on Tuesday remaining.