Tour Down Under riders hammered by heatwave, concerns expressed by Greipel, Sieberg and others
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tour Down Under riders hammered by heatwave, concerns expressed by Greipel, Sieberg and others

by Shane Stokes at 6:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
Adelaide rated hottest city on earth earlier today

Santos Tour Down UnderThe contrast between a cold European winter and the sweltering conditions of Australian summer have been accentuated for the riders arriving in advance of the Tour Down Under, with Adelaide currently experiencing a big heatwave.

The state capital had been predicated as likely to exceed its absolute record of 46.1 degrees Celsius (114.98 F), recorded in 1939, but the thermometer finally peaked at 44.2 degrees (111.56 F). It’s still extremely hot, and forecasts are that the temperatures could continue to rise.

The southeast Australia heatwave has resulted in wildfires, with 55 homes being destroyed on Sunday and one life being lost.

Racing begins in three days time when the riders line out in the People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide. Two days later the Santos Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday, and it looks likely that the extreme heat could well be a factor.

That would seem to hand an advantage to the Australian riders, who have been training for some time in the heat, and who may have already raced in the same conditions.

For the Europeans, there will be a period of adaptation from the much cooler temperatures they have been dealing with for several months.

Lotto Belisol rider Marcel Sieberg commented on the conditions today via his Twitter account, using the hashtag #cooked. “[It’s a] long time ago that it was too hot for me to ride my bike. That's not fun anymore and for sure not healthy to ride in that condition,” he wrote.

Belkin rider Rick Flens echoed the sentiment. “Experience #tourdownunder at home put the room temp at 44 sit in front of 5 hairdryers switch ON for a easy ride, press TURBO for a fast ride.”

Quadruple Tour de France 2013 stage winner Marcel Kittel correctly observed that Adelaide was officially rated the hottest city on the planet earlier today, while both Andre Greipel and Lotto-Belisol team-mate tweeted photos of their SRMS showing 49 degrees [120.2F].

“49 degrees is a number where I found out that just stupid cyclists are going outside for training,” said Greipel, questioning the wisdom of doing exactly that.

The eighteen WorldTour teams plus the other riders due to take part in the Santos Tour Down Under will hope that things will settle down somewhat before the race begins.

According to South Australia’s health officials, 129 people have attended hospital in the past three days with heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Racing in those conditions is clearly a difficult prospect.

According to the Climate Council’s Will Steffen, research has shown that heatwaves are becoming both longer and more frequent in Australia.

“Australia has always had hot weather. However, climate change is loading the dice towards more extreme hot weather,” he stated.

“The current heatwave follows on from a year of extreme heat, the hottest summer on record and the hottest year on record.”


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