Volta a Portugal continues despite soaring temperatures and rider heatstroke
Temperatures may well reach 50°C
Soaring temperatures at the Volta a Portugal have prompted questions around the organiser's consideration for riders.
The twelve-day stage race kicked off on Wednesday and continues until Sunday August 12, with temperatures reaching a claimed 45°C on Thursday.
Portuguese rider Joaquim Silva (Caja Rural–Seguros RGA) was forced to retire during the 203 kilometre stage, and so far the route has not been revised in response to conditions.
The stage from Beja to Portalegre follows an undulating route, with an uphill finish.
Silva's team tweeted following the 26-year-olds abandonment: "[He] has been forced to leave as a result of a heat stroke due to high temperatures," later citing dizziness as a result of dehydration.
In 2016, the UCI introduced its 'extreme weather protocol' which outlines an action plan to be carried out in the event of 'extreme weather', with 'extreme temperatures' included.
Under the protocol, a meeting should be held between stakeholders, to discuss modification of the start time, venue, change of course, neutralisation, cancellation - or of course the option of no action. Stakeholders can include a race doctor, chief of security, riders and teams.
The protocol applies to WorldTour and HC events - but as a UCI 2.1 ranked stage race, the Volta a Portugal is not included.
Earlier this year, organisers of the Tour Down Under reduced the length of stage three's planned 146.6 kilometre route by 26 km, when temperatures exceeded 40°C .
Katusha-Alpecin's Tiago Machado tweeted "follow the example of the Tour Down Under and in these extreme conditions, reduce the kilometres."
Portugal has hit record temperatures as part of the ongoing heatwave across Europe - the country's maximum reported temperature was 47°C on August 1, and experts say that the 50s are not out of reach.
Fire prone areas of Portugal have already begun preparing for flames - with 10,700 men and women including voluntary firefighters, police and soldiers made ready, according to the Journal.
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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