Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia has been cancelled due to heavy snow.
The stage, due to be held today (Friday May 24), had already been re-routed to avoid the climbs of the Passo Gavia (2,618m) and the Passo dello Stelvio (2,758m), the highest point in the race.
But, with the revised route now affected by snow and ice, and with windchill forecast to drop as low as -20c, the race organisers have cancelled the entire stage.
“Due to adverse weather conditions and, in particular, snow on the stage route in its entirety, stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello/Martelltal, has been cancelled,” read a statement issued by RCS Sport.
The 2013 edition of the Giro d’Italia has been dogged by bad weather. Heavy rain fell throughout the first two weeks of the race, while snow saw the climb to Sestriere cut from stage 14, and stage 15 was cut short, finishing four kilometres short of the summit of the Col du Galibier.
Team Sky directeur sportif Marcus Ljungqvist said: “The weather on this race has been the worst that I’ve seen at a Grand Tour in a long time. Everybody knew the risk of high mountain finishes in May in the Dolomites but I don’t think anybody expected it to be this bad.
“They’ve been unlucky and it’s too bad for the fans, the organisation and everyone. But at the end of the day they need to be able to run a normal stage.
“It would have been great with good weather on clear roads with the scenery and the helicopter shots but it’s about making a good bike race that is safe for the riders.”
Stage 20, meanwhile, was set to include five categorised climbs in the Dolomites but organisers have issued a revised 210km route which skips the first three.
The stage will still finish with the climb of Tre Cime di Lavaredo to 2,304m. With a lead of more than four minutes at the top of the general classification, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is on course to add a second Grand Tour to his palmares.
The cancellation of stage 19 also plays into the hands of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who leads the points classification by four points from Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), with Nibali a further six points back.
Both Evans, who is second in the general classification, and Nibali, who won stage 18 to extend his overall lead, would have been expected to pick up points, awarded to the top 15 finishers on each stage, on stage 19. Saturday’s racing will offer the duo the latest realistic opportunity of doing so, while stage 21, which is expected to end in a bunch sprint in Brescia, will give Cavendish a final chance to add to his tally.