VALLOIRE, France (VN) — Riders woke up Monday for the final rest day of the Giro d’Italia happy to see sunny skies high in the French Alps.
After horrendous racing conditions over the weekend, marked by rain, cold, wind, and snow on the upper reaches of the Col du Galibier, many were hopeful the worst was behind them. Forecasts, however, seem to indicate that spring’s return on Monday is only a short respite.
More unstable, winter-like weather is expected to hang over northern Italy throughout the week. Forecasts indicate more rain, cold temperatures, and snow at higher elevations across northern Italy this week.
Poor weather could force Giro organizers to reroute Friday’s and Saturday’s climbing stages, and perhaps throw a wrench into the overall battle for the pink jersey.
“We hope the weather improves and we can race unhampered,” said race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). “The cold has been hard on everyone.”
The Giro was lucky Sunday to avoid a major route change, though snowfall high on the Galibier forced organizers to lower the finish line several hundred meters below the summit.
Snow could force cancellation of portions Friday’s and Saturday’s stages. According to race officials, it’s too early to make any decisions, but they are monitoring the weather.
Things look bleak. Friday’s forecast calls for a 70-percent chance of rain and temperatures in the high 40s Fahrenheit at Bormio, the alpine village at 1200 meters, tucked between the Passo Gavia (2618m) and the Passo di Stelvio (2758m). Rain in Bormio means snow on the highest reaches of the climbs, meaning that they could be deemed impassable.
Forecasts are similarly gloomy for Saturday’s 203km queen stage from Silandro to Tre Cime di Lavaredo (2304m), with cool temperatures and rain at Cortina d’Ampezzo at 1225m.
The possibility of more horrendous weather comes as unwelcomed news inside the peloton. Riders have already been suffering with colds and allergy problems since the start of the Giro.
“The weather’s been very hard on the riders,” said BMC Racing director Max Sciandri. “It’s not just this Giro, but the entire spring in Europe. The weather has been awful and many riders are at their limits.”
The 2013 Giro could see a repeat of the epic stage over the Gavia in 1988 when Andy Hampsten rode through a blizzard to secure the pink jersey. The peloton is certainly hoping that is not the case.