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Italian defends decision to cancel crucial stage and explains complex process behind organising major races.

Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - ZENNARO - PERI

TIRRENO - ADRIATICO

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS

VINCENZO NIBALI

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
14.03.2016 @ 08:26 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

Mauro Vegni, the head of cycling at RCS Sport and the organiser of Tirreno-Adriatico, has hit back at criticism of his decision to cancel Sunday’s queen stage to Monte San Vicino in the Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico.

 

Trouble began when forecasts of snow and low temperatures on the climbs, especially at the finish, did not materialise on Sunday afternoon. This led to riders and spectators to call into question the decision to call off the stage.

 

Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, for one, candidly condemned the call on Italian television and his coach, Paolo Slongo, went as far as suggesting the Astana team might think about altering Nibali’s race schedule if they believed there was a danger that the crucial mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia could be cancelled because of the application of the UCI Extreme Weather Protocol.

 

Vegni appeared truly hurt and disillusioned by the criticism, pointing out that the decision, made by the race organisers but also the UCI and representatives for the riders and teams, was made to protect the health and safety of all the riders. He also compared the situation to the recent cancellation of a stage in Paris-Nice.

 

“I’d like to make a simple comparison with what happened at Paris-Nice. Alberto Contador failed to win by just four seconds after a stage earlier in the race was cancelled because of extreme weather. Yet I don’t think Alberto complained, he accepted it as part of the sport,” Vegni told journalists in the press centre in Metalica, the town at the bottom of the Monte San Vicino climb after a testing 24 hours.

 

“I’m not bitter about what Vincenzo has said. I really admire him, he’s a great rider and it’s great that he’s always honoured our races.

However, he needs to think of everyone’s interests, not only his own. It’s also important to point out that we don’t decide the race thinking of just one rider. He needs to respect the people who are working for the interests of everyone,” he explained according to Cyclingnews.com.

 

Vegni was also careful to point out that the decision took a heavy toll on the organisers financially.

 

“The truth is that cancelling the stage cost us a hell of a lot, both in terms of the lost racing and even revenue. The total loss we suffered, including the lost TV rights, the lost stage town income and other losses is around 250,000 Euro. We obviously would want to avoid that if we could and so we don’t understand why people have criticised us. We would have loved to see the stage happen but it was just not possible this time.”

 

“The forecasts said the temperature would drop four or five degrees and that it would snow above 700 metres. Those conditions didn’t allow us to host the stage, the finish or even the Plan B route. Rather than find the race and the riders in the middle of a difficult situation, I’d rather cancel the stage. I mean that out of respect to the riders too.

 

Vegni also pointed out that the organisers could not, as suggested by some, have postponed their decision until race day because a rescheduled stage would have to be coordinated with local authorities and volunteers.

 

“The photos we issued yesterday of the finish showed the real conditions up at the finish. During the night the temperatures didn’t drop and so the snow melted. But we had to make a decision yesterday. We couldn’t wait until Sunday because the local authorities had to arrange for the hundreds of volunteers and police officers along the route. You can’t improvise things like that or suddenly come up with a different race as an ex-pro suggested. If you’re an ex-pro and work for a television channel you’ve got to explain things in full, otherwise people won’t understand. But if that ex-pro says something stupid then it only causes further problems.”

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