Concerns have been raised over the safety of professional pelotons during the second phase of the Criterium du Dauphine as a group of riders got caught up in an enormous hailstorm at the latter stages.
Immediately after the top riders crossed the finish line at Col de Porte in France with Primoz Roglic Tour de France’s favourite in the lead, the storm stroke, ambushing the peloton remnants in the open.
Footage taken by those in team vehicles showed some riders abandoning the race and scrambling for safety as big-sized hail hit them, blanketing the road with ice.
After the race came to a close, Tim Declercq a Deceuninck-QuickStep rider shared a photo of his seriously injured back with scary red welts of where the huge hailstones pelted him.
And he sure summed the whole experience in his comment, “as if le Dauphine was not painful enough for the legs.”
Declercq wasn’t the only victim.
Another rider Tony Martin, a time-trial specialist for Jumbo-Visman was photographed assisting a fan to dash up a hill and take shelter under a tree, supported by his inflatable raft.
Israel Start-Up Nation’s rider Guy Niv shared his experience noting that “it was quite painful” and “wasn’t the best experience.”
“Normally when you have this kind of hail stone you just stay home,” he added.
His teammate Nil Politt was forced to take cover under a fan’s tent pitched on the road side.
Apparently, even the riders who had already completed the race were bombarded by the storm, with post-race ceremonies put to a halt after the inflatable stage was blown over as the reigning Tour de France champ Egan Bernal received the white young rider’s jersey.
The post-race TV interview that had been scheduled by his teammate Chris Froome was also interrupted when a deft of thunder shocked the four-time winner of Tour de France, causing a TV journalist to remark, “the gods have spoken.”
The Criterium de Dauphine, an annual event held in the south-east parts of France, is used as a warm-up race for the traditional pre-Tour de France.
This year’s Tour was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, pushing the event’s start date to 29th of August.
Several Criterium de Dauphine phases happen on the same road that is used by the Tour’s Peloton race some weeks later.
The five-stage Dauphine is usually used as a gauge to determine how a rider will perform in the 3-week, 21-phased Tour de France.
As one of the participants, Froome is trying to ride himself into better shape ahead of the 2020 Tour de France following months of recovering after he sustained near-fatal injuries during a crash in last year’s Dauphine.
He’s faced with an uphill task to reserve for himself a slot in the Team Ineos Tour squad expected to support Bernal and the 2018 champ Geraint Thomas after completing 14 minutes behind Roglic, the race leader.
Team Ineos, which has so far bagged seven out of the eight Tour de France titles inclusive of those won under its previous Team Sky iteration, is facing a huge challenge of dealing with Roglic’s dominant Jumbo-Visma squad.
Richie Porte, one of the six Aussies participating in the race earned a place in the lead group, just 10 seconds behind the overall winner.
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