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Giro d’Italia: Riders board buses after riding through neutral zone after Stage 19 is shortened in response to peloton protest

Riders unhappy with long stages and transfers meaning they start and end each day in the dark

Chaos reigned at the start of Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, where rider protests about the gruelling itinerary eventually resulted in an 11th hour decision to shorten the stage by over 100km. The 251km stage from Morbegno to Asti was first extended to 258km due to a collapsed bridge, but after fierce negotiations riders instead got back into their team buses not far from the official start line – having first ridden through the neutral zone – so that they could be driven to a new start near Milan.

Today’s monster flat stage was scheduled after three successive 200km+ days with the second and third each featuring over 5,000m of climbing.

The physical challenge for the riders has been compounded by the October weather and long transfers at the start and end of every stage.

Many were reportedly unhappy at starting and finishing every day in the dark and there were concerns that the itinerary was increasingly and unnecessarily putting their health at risk.

Discussions about shortening the stage had reportedly taken place last night, but it was only when riders said they wouldn’t race that a decision was finally taken to do so.

The riders’ union, the CPA, thanked race organisers RCS for the move and expressed a commonly-held belief that the change would have little if any negative impact on the quality of racing.

The race itself seemed to imply that weather conditions were a key factor.

Remarkably, even after boarding team buses, the riders still didn’t actually know where the new start line would be.

It has since reported that the new start will be in Abbiategrasso, to the west of Milan, which would mean a stage of around 107km in length with a probable start time of 1.30pm.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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