PARIS (Reuters) - An "extreme weather conditions protocol" will be tested for the first time during this year's Giro d'Italia after the peloton experienced extreme conditions in recent races, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Friday.
"Representatives from the UCI-- notably commissaires (stewards) -- riders (CPA), teams (AIGCP) and organizers (AIOCC) have agreed on the principles of an action plan in the event of extreme weather conditions during the Giro d’Italia," the UCI said in a statement.
The group considers the safety and the health of riders as an absolute priority.
"The protocol involves notably the compulsory convening of a meeting between the stakeholders (organization including race doctor and chief of security, riders, teams, President of the Commissaries Panel,) when extreme weather conditions are anticipated prior to the start of a stage."
In case of freezing rain, snow, pollution, strong winds, extreme temperatures or poor visibility, a stage may be canceled or its course changed for the safety of the riders.
This year, high temperatures caused tyres to explode at the Tour of Qatar, riders finished a Tirreno-Adriatico stage in a huge snow storm, and some were thrown off their bikes by 100 kph wind gusts in the Gent-Wevelgem classic.
In last year's Giro, organizers attempted to neutralize the race near the top of the Stelvio because of snow falls, only for eventual champion Nairo Quintana to attack on the descent.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)