Vinokourov: “We ask to change the Monday stage finish to an uphill finish”

Tirreno-Adriatico organisers decision to implement Extreme Weather Protocol well in advance of the stage 5 start on Sunday, cancelling the race because of heavy snow at the finish, drew almost universally positive reactions from teams and riders today, but Astana manager Alexandr Vinokourov also asked organisers to add an uphill finish to Monday’s stage so the pre-race favourites could have a “real chance” at overall victory.

“We appreciate the attention of the Tirreno-Adriatico organisers to ‘ensure the health and safety of the riders,’” Vinokourov said in a statement published Saturday evening on the team’s website.

“In reason of the fact that there is not an alternative race route for tomorrow stage, we ask, at least, to change the Monday stage finish to an uphill finish,” Vinokourov said. “This request is to give all the riders that are participating to the race a real chance to challenge for the final victory. I do this request directly to the race director, Mauro Vegni, because I think it is a reasonable request for not to frustrate the efforts that all the champions did to prepare this race.”

Etixx-QuickStep’s Zdenek Stybar currently leads the general classification by nine seconds over a trio of BMC riders, including Damiano Caruso, Greg van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen. Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali is 11th overall, 24 seconds behind Stybar.

The Italian was obviously hoping to make up his deficit during Sunday’s mountainous stage, but that plan is suddenly outdated. Nibali also voiced his frustration via a Twitter update.

“I am saddened by the cancellation of the stage to @TirrenAdriatico,” Nibali wrote on the social media platform. “I aimed at the podium, it will be for another time ….”

Etixx-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere was happy with the organisers’ decision, praising RCS Sport in a statement published on the team’s website.

“This is an important step for cycling, because it’s probably for the first time in the history of this sport that such a wise decision is taken before the start of a race, a decision which came as an agreement between all the stakeholders,” Lefevere said.

“I would also like to underline the courage of the race organisers who have agreed to cancel such an important stage and put the riders’ safety first, ahead of any interest. Tirreno-Adriatico definitely sets an example for the future,” Lefevere said.

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