Cyclists are tough guys and so a bit of rain doesn't raise too many eyebrows. However when a heavy rain shower comes up onto the riders in Middle East, only few are ready. That includes race organisers as well. Deputy Cycling Director Pierre-Yves Thouault and Soudal Quick-Step rider Gil Gelders chatted with WielerFlits about the situation that will see stage 3 of the race moved to shorter and 'safer' roads on Monday.
"We have organized the Tour of Qatar sixteen times and in all that time I have never seen anything like it in this region. Nor in the AlUla Tour, and in the thirteen editions of the Tour of Oman we have never experienced a drop of rain. So we weren't really prepared for it," says Thouault. "In the past we only had to stop the Tour of Oman because it was too hot," he laughs.
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"Normally about 50 to 100 millimeters of rain falls per year in Oman, and now we suddenly get an equally extreme load in just a few hours. I think safety was always guaranteed. We never thought about canceling the stage. The riders did not ask and we never heard that it was unsafe. I am sure that if you go to the finish two hours after the finish, it will be normal there again."
"At first I thought the race was going to be canceled, but it just kept going and going," Gelders shared his first-hand experience. "We were lucky that the course was not that technical. It was only on the roads just before the difficult final climb that a lot of water suddenly appeared. But that in itself was still fine. The stones that were washed onto the road made it quite dangerous in the peloton. Although I think the consequences are still okay. I saw one rider fall, but I was quite near the front of the peloton, so perhaps more happened behind me."