Weather wreaks havoc at Etape du Tour

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Today's Etape du Tour in the Massif Central was hit by extreme weather causing hundreds to abandon and stretch the organisation to the limit.

Pouring rain and sleet caused what could be the highest ever drop out rate in the Etape's history. As many as five buses were full of riders at the first feed station where others had to wait as more buses were called in.

The weather remained bad all day and riders were seen sheltering in houses along the route, crammed in to phone boxes and in farm sheds.

The route of the sportive covers the Tour's ninth stage from Issoire to Saint Flour.

Unconfirmed rumours were of the event being cancelled at the Col du Pas de Peyrol, the second category climb, 99.5km in to the 208km stage. Riders were apparently still stranded at the town of Le Puy Mary on the Col du Pas de Peyrol several hours later, waiting to be evacuated.

Today's Etape is the second of two events this year, the first time organisers Mondovélo have done this. Last Sunday saw 7,000 riders take on the 109.5km stage from Modane Valfréjus to Alpe d'Huez.

That event was run off in 37 degree heat, although it wasn't without incident. Five riders were reportedly airlifted to hospital after crashing in the tunnels of the descent of the Col de Lautaret.

Tour de France 2011: Related links

Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index

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Simon Richardson
Magazine editor

Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. He fell in love with cycling 1989 when watching the Tour de France on Channel 4, started racing in 1995 and in 2000 he spent one season racing in Belgium. During his time at CW (and Cycle Sport magazine) he has written product reviews, fitness features, pro interviews, race coverage and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. He became the 130-year-old magazine's 13th editor in 2015.