Ongoing poor weather on the Continent looks set to cause disruption to the Tour de France next month, just as it did to the Giro d’Italia in May, when some last-minute alterations were needed to key Alpine stages with one abandoned altogether.
Whereas the disruption to the Italian race arose through unseasonal snowfalls that rendered some roads in the Alps impassable, the biggest problem facing Tour organisers ASO surrounds roads in the Pyrenees being washed away by flash flooding, as shown in a picture accompanying an article on France 3 Acquitaine.
President François Hollande was due to visit the French Pyrenees on Friday to see the devastation wrought by heavy thunderstorms for himself, with widespread damage also reported across the Spanish border.
The race is due to spend a weekend in those mountains on the border between France and Spain in a fortnight’s time, with a Stage 8 summit finish planned at the ski resort of Ax-3-Domaines on 6 July, while some big passes including the Col de Peyresourde feature in the following day’s Stage 9.
For now, Tour organisers ASO have adopted a “wait and see” approach, according to local news reports, the fact that the problem relates to the condition of the road rather than meteorological conditions does at least afford them a bit more room for manoeuvre than their counterparts at RCS in Italy.
Speaking to Agence France Presse, race director Christian Prudhomme spared a thought for those who had been affected by flooding.
While acknowledging that there were worries over the earlier part of Stage 9 in particular, he did not believe that the key part of that stage, from the Peyrosourde and over the Col de Val Louron-Azet, followed by the ascent to La Hourquette d'Ancizan, were a major cause for concern.
ASO does say however that it will continue to monitor the situation.