25 May 2013

Giro stage called off after heavy snow

7:13 am on 25 May 2013

Heavy snow forced organisers of the Giro d'Italia cycling classic to call off Friday's mountainous stage 19 from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello and the route for the next day's stage to be re-designed.

Saturday's stage includes far fewer descents to ensure another day of mountain racing is not lost but it will still finish on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo at 2,304 metres above sea level.

Three classified climbs through the Dolomites have been annulled in Saturday's redesigned 210-km stage and only two short descents near the final climb of Tre Cime di Lavaredo are still in place.

Overall leader Vicenzo Nibali applauded the organisers' decision.

The last Giro stage to be cancelled like Friday's for reasons purely to do with the terrain or weather was 24 years ago, when a landslide, possibly caused by heavy snow, blocked one mountain pass.

The race, which is due to finish in Brescia on Sunday, was rocked on Friday by the news of former winner Danilo di Luca's positive test for the banned blood booster erythropoietin, or EPO.

The 37-year-old Italian, who won the Giro in 2007, failed an out-of competition test taken on April 29 at his home, five days before the start of this year's Giro. He had a previous positive for the same banned substance in 2009.