April snow showers shorten Romandie stage 1

The first road stage of the six-day race is shortened by about 69 kilometers because of cold and snow at higher elevations.

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Foul weather continued to wallop the Tour de Romandie on Wednesday, forcing organizers to reroute the opening road stage of the Swiss WorldTour race.

Overnight snow made it impossible to safely negotiate the first major climb of the planned 169-kilometer route from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Moudon, the Cat. 2 Col des Etroits at 48km into the stage, topping out at 1,152 meters.

A meeting between race organizers, the UCI, representatives of the CPA, teams, and medical staff resulted in a decision to shorten the stage and route it at lower elevations not affected by snow, ice, and cold.

Riders signed in as planned in the start village, and then drove about 60km to a new starting point, cutting the length of the stage to about 100km. The second half of the stage remained as it was planned.

Teams and riders were already on edge following snowy and cold conditions for Tuesday’s opening prologue. Roads eventually cleared in the afternoon and allowed the race to unfold as expected, though the final dozen or so riders raced under intensifying rain mixed with snow. Movistar’s Ion Izagirre won on the 3.95km course.

After a mild spring, winter-like weather swept into northern Europe over the weekend. Flèche Wallonne, held a week ago in Belgium, featured warm, sunny skies, but Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège was plagued by cold, rain, and snow.

Forecasters are calling for clearing skies Thursday and Friday, with a chance of more cold weather over the weekend.

The decision to shorten Wednesday’s stage comes as riders and teams are pressing for stronger implementation of extreme-weather protocol rules reinforced over the past season. Stages at both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico were canceled in March due to snow and cold, reviving the debate of when and how the protocol should be implemented.

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