Milan-San Remo: Snow and TV schedules wreak havoc as race shortened
Snowfall on Passo del Turchino causes it to be skipped, climb to Le Manie also missed after restart
Snow and pressure from TV schedules has led to today's 104th edition of Milan-San Remo, the longest race on the WorldTour calendar, effectively being reduced to an 133.7 kilometre dash to the finish line, and moreover one in which six riders took to the restart with an advantage of 7 minutes 10 seconds over the rest of the field.
Those six riders - Lars Bak of Lotto-Belisol, AG2R's Matteo Montaguti, Pablo Lastras of Movistar, Filippo Fortin from Bardiani Valvole, Katusha's Maxim Belkov and the Androni Giocattoli rider, Diego Rosa - had got away early on in the 298 kilometre race.
They were out ahead on their own when organisers cut out 43 kilometres of the 298-kilometre parcours due to safety fears as snow fell on the highest point of the route, the Passo del Turchino. It was planned to restart the race at 2.30pm local time at Arenzano, 144 kilometres from the finish, with the riders taken there by their team buses.
However, with the resumption pushed back by a further half hour, organisers decided instead to get it back under way at Cogoleto.
Officially, that is 133.7 kilometres from San Remo, but the race now cuts out the potentially influential climb of Le Manie and subsequent descent.
The changes to the course clearly change the complexion of the race, and perhaps make a sprint contested by a large group more likely.
Some riders though may well suffer from having ridden more than 100 kilometres in cold and wet conditions, and then having to do the same again after an enforced break of around three hours.
With both team staff and journalists taking to Twitter to post pictures of the snow settling on the motorway that lies below the state road the peloton was due to take over the Turchino, race director Mauro Vegni this morning took the decision to neutralise the course between Ovada, 117 kilometres into the race, and Arenzano, with the descent to the coast from what at 532 metres is the race's highest point giving particular cause for concern.
Once the decision to neutralise those 43 kilometres was communicated on race radio and that the day's break would maintain the advantage it held at Ovada once the race restarted, the six riders out in front went full gas to try and build as much of a lead as possible by the time the race was suspended.
The peloton was also wise to the fact that the changed parcours would cut out a part of the course that typically sees the advantage held by a breakaway tumble, and that it was necessary to try and keep them on as tight a leash as possible.
With Cannondale, the team with the big pre-race favourite Peter Sagan, leading the chase, the break's lead at Ovada - and, therefore at Cogoleto for the restart on the Ligurian coast - stood at 7 minutes 10 seconds.
Racing has now resumed on wet roads and with a little over 100 kilometres now left to ride, the advantage remains at around 7 minutes, with the peloton facing a hard chase to reel them in.