A cyclist at the Giro d’Italia has told Eurosport that the riders are “on their knees” and that he’s “never seen a Tour where people are this broken”.
The rider, who asked to remain anonymous, said:
"6:30am starts last four days, seven hour stages, transfers. To be honest, this is only because everybody is on their knees. I've never seen a Tour where people are this broken."
The cyclist was speaking after the news broke that Stage 19 had been shortened from an enormous 258km to 124km after a protest from the riders, with the start moved to Abiategrasso near Milan.
The race still went through the usual pre-stage formalities in the host town of Morbegno and lined up at the start on Friday morning. But then the riders transferred to the team buses and made the journey to the new designated stage start.
Reporting from the stage, Eurosport's Bernie Eisel said that it was the right decision to move the start of the stage, but added that it could have been handled better.
"Team buses are racing to pick up the riders and get to the real start around Como," Eisel said.
"Right call by the riders, but again, it should have been discussed and decided last night. Big mess here right now.
"Riders suitcases are at the next hotel and now they have to get changed, dry their clothes a little and restart after the transfer in the bus. Not ideal.
"I know you want to see some racing, but since the last rest day, the riders had super hard and extremely long stages and transfers over three hours a day."
Eurosport's Orla Chennaoui revealed that the protests from riders were sparked by news that a collapsed bridge was to force the already mammoth 251km stage to be lengthened further.
And Ineos' Luke Rowe tweeted his support for the decision, saying:
Great move by the riders at the Giro! Stage 19 of the race and they propose a 260km day.