CPA outlines reasons for Giro d'Italia stage 19 shortening in open letter

daniel.ostanek@futurenet.com
·7 min read
 ASTI ITALY  OCTOBER 23 Start  Wilco Kelderman of The Netherlands and Team Sunweb Pink Leader Jersey  Adam Hansen of Australia and Team Lotto Soudal  Nathan Haas of Australia and Team Cofidis Solutions Credits  Ignatas Konovalovas of Lithuania and Team Groupama  FDJ  Miles Scotson of Australia and Team Groupama  FDJ  Protected from the heavy rain and in talks about the possible cancellation of the stage due to rain  Morbegno Village  during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 19 a 258km stage from Morbegno to Asti  girodiitalia  Giro  on October 23 2020 in Asti Italy Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images
ASTI ITALY OCTOBER 23 Start Wilco Kelderman of The Netherlands and Team Sunweb Pink Leader Jersey Adam Hansen of Australia and Team Lotto Soudal Nathan Haas of Australia and Team Cofidis Solutions Credits Ignatas Konovalovas of Lithuania and Team Groupama FDJ Miles Scotson of Australia and Team Groupama FDJ Protected from the heavy rain and in talks about the possible cancellation of the stage due to rain Morbegno Village during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 19 a 258km stage from Morbegno to Asti girodiitalia Giro on October 23 2020 in Asti Italy Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images

In the wake of the Giro d'Italia, the Professional Cyclist's Association (CPA) union has penned an open letter addressed to the cycling family detailing further the events of stage 19 in Morbegno while also putting forward the case for enhanced collaboration in order to boost rider safety.

The letter, released on Monday morning, laid out the conditions the Giro peloton had to endure during the race – extending beyond the expected hardships involved in road racing.

As numerous rider representatives have stated since the stage, the letter notes that accumulated fatigue, transfers between stages, early wakeups and concerns about illness all factored into the Thursday evening vote and Friday morning proposal to shorten stage 19 of the race.

"With regard to what happened on the third last stage of the Giro d'Italia 103 we want to explain the reasons for our position," read the letter, signed 'professional riders and the CPA'.

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"At the height of a difficult and stressful season for everyone, exhausted by the fatigue of the previous days, in which we had accumulated not only more than 15,000 meters in vertical climbs in just 600 km but also endless transfers, wake-ups at dawn, meals in buses and with the concern not to get sick during these exceptional times of growing emergency due to the worldwide pandemic, the many fears for the present and for the future, we asked that a flat stage of 258 km got shortened by a hundred kilometres.

"We were not afraid of rain or cold, we proved it by climbing the Stelvio at the end of October, but yet another show of strength at the end of an exhausting Giro, with a pandemic underway and the little attention for our safety, was in our eyes simply too much for our immune system to face a 260km stage with bad weather."

The stage – originally set to run 253 kilometres before a bridge collapse en route saw it lengthened by five kilometres on Thursday night – would have been the longest final-week Grand Tour stage since 1996 and would have made the Giro the first Grand Tour in over 20 years to feature four stages over 200 kilometres in its final week.

"In Morbegno-Asti stage we made a proposal to avoid a major protest which would have had worse consequences for the Giro," continued the letter. "We probably could have talked to the organization and the jury first, but so far, every time we have done it, we have not been heard. Not even when there have been serious accidents, when we asked to evaluate the routes, the transfers, the arrivals and many other situations that turned out to be dangerous to our safety.

"Anyway, we don't want to continue with the controversy. On the contrary, we want to be proactive and underline how with the collaboration between all the stakeholders, cycling can grow, indeed it must grow both in terms of safety and spectacle."

After the stage had concluded, with CCC's Josef Černy taking victory from the break, Giro organiser Mauro Vegni threatened the riders with legal action, postulating that their actions had overshadowed the race.

Later on, the letter touched on incidents involving Elia Viviani and Luca Wackermann during the race, which saw Viviani taken down by a race motorbike and Wackermann hospitalised after being struck by barriers blown by a Rai television helicopter.

"We have always given our best, despite flying barriers and motorcycles that touched us as we struggled on our bikes. Fatigue and thoughts have accumulated in our bodies and our souls until they exploded in Morbegno."

The letter concluded by saying that, while the riders and CPA are grateful for the organisation of major races during "this very difficult years", adding that riders still deserve to be listened to, even if fighting for their own interests clashes with those of race organisers.

"We are not heroes as someone may think but men. With strengths and weaknesses and we are concerned for us and our families, for those of our teammates and the staff who work alongside us.

"We are happy to have arrived in Paris with the Tour de France, in Milan with the Giro d'Italia, we hope the Vuelta will be able to reach Madrid safely and that in 2021 we will be able to race in all the competitions that have been postponed, from the best known to the least famous.

"All of them are precious for us and for the whole movement, of which we are the most exposed actors, for better or for worse. We deserve to be listened to, even when we say something you don't like."

Read the full open letter on the CPA website or below.

The riders' open letter to the cycling family at the end of the Giro d'Italia

Dear cycling family,

with regard to what happened on the third last stage of the Giro d'Italia #103 we want to explain the reasons for our position. At the height of a difficult and stressful season for everyone, exhausted by the fatigue of the previous days, in which we had accumulated not only more than 15.000 meters in vertical climbs in just 600 km but also endless transfers, wakeups at dawn, meals in busses and with the concern not to get sick during these exceptional times of growing emergency due to the worldwide pandemic, the many fears for the present and for the future, we asked that a flat stage of 258 km got shortened by a hundred kilometers.

We were not afraid of rain or cold, we proved it by climbing the Stelvio at the end of October, but yet another show of strength at the end of an exhausting Giro, with a pandemic underway and the little attention for our safety, was in our eyes simply too much for our immune system to face a 260 km stage with bad weather.

In Morbegno-Asti stage we made a proposal to avoid a major protest which would have had worse consequences for the Giro. We probably could have talked to the organization and the jury first, but so far, every time we have done it, we have not been heard. Not even when there have been serious accidents, when we asked to evaluate the routes, the transfers, the arrivals and many other situations that turned out to be dangerous to our safety.

Anyway, we don't want to continue with the controversy. On the contrary, we want to be proactive and underline how with the collaboration between all the stakeholders, cycling can grow, indeed it must grow both in terms of safety and spectacle.

We are the ones on the front line, always, and we are grateful to those who in this very difficult year managed to organize the races and set up the teams, and who together with our efforts and our professional attitude allowed the starting of the 2020 season.

Personally, we have undergone all kinds of checks, we have faced transfers and journeys at the risk of our health and that of our loved ones, we have always given our best, despite flying barriers and motorcycles that touched us as we struggled on our bikes. Fatigue and thoughts have accumulated in our bodies and our souls until they exploded in Morbegno.

We are not heroes as someone may think but men. With strengths and weaknesses and we are concerned for us and our families, for those of our team mates and the staff who work alongside us.

We are happy to have arrived in Paris with the Tour de France, in Milan with the Giro d'Italia, we hope the Vuelta will be able to reach Madrid safely and that in 2021 we will be able to race in all the competitions that have been postponed, from the best known to the least famous. All of them are precious for us and for the whole movement, of which we are the most exposed actors, for better or for worse. We deserve listening, even when we say something you don't like.

Thanks for listening to us in Morbegno.

The Professional Riders and the CPA