Friday, July 26, 2019

Weather Hazards and Bike Racing

I'm a big fan of the Tour de France, despite cycling's spotty history with performance enhancing drugs.

In recent years, Team Sky (now Team Ineos) has dominated the race, making for generally boring racing, but this year, the race has been wide open, with as many as six riders having a legitimate shot at the yellow jersey entering the final three stages.  Further, the leader entering stage 19 (of 21), Julian Alaphilipe, was not a pre-tour favorite, adding to the intrigue.  Major surprises in long stage races are few and far between.

I was hopeful that today's stage would remain dry after consulting MeteoFrance's Arome model yesterday, but it wasn't to be.  Thunderstorms laid down a major coating of hail on the end of today's stage, necessitating a halt of action while the riders were descending from the penultimate climb.  Conditions along the route to come were indeed unsafe.  Comically, overhead shots showed what looked to be a snowplow in action.

Sadly, some news reports claimed that the tour was stopped because of a snowstorm.

Hail ≠ snow.  Oh the pain and agony of it all!

There were also reports of a debris flow.
There was a time when the race would have gone on through such insanity, but they made the right decision today.

Tour of Utah organizers should take the opportunity to learn from this as "America's Toughest Stage Race" could similarly be affected by hazardous weather including but not limited to hail, flash flooding, debris flows, and lightning.

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