SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE (AFP) – With a heatwave building towards a sweltering peak this weekend, Tour de France organisers are ready to pour tens of thousands of litres of cold water onto a route that risks melting at road temperatures of 60 deg C.

Riders suffered in Friday’s heat as the peloton gave up its pursuit of an escape group.

The peloton had already been punished by the two days of monster mountain climbs, such as the Alpe D’Huez won by Tom Pidcock.

On Wednesday’s dramatic stage to Col du Granon, two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar, known to dislike heat, wilted and lost his lead in temperatures well over 30 deg C.

“It was horrible, a furnace,” said French climber Thibaut Pinot.

His compatriot Romain Bardet said the following day had been worse.

“I was trembling and my pulse was racing,” he said.

But with sizzling air temperatures of 38-40 deg C forecast over the weekend, as the race moves towards the Pyrenees, the situation will be even worse.

As a result, special measures are being readied.

French departments road safety organiser Andre Bancala told AFP at the foot of the Alps on Friday that record road temperatures of 63 deg C could be beaten.

“During a heatwave, such as the one we are expecting of over 38 degrees, the road temperature gets much higher than that, around 60 degrees,” Bancala said.

“The absolute record for heat was in 2010 with a road temperature of 63 degrees when Sylvain Chavanel won in the Jura,” he added.

“But this weekend we may even break that, so we are mobilising between us and the fire brigade, to combat that.

“In certain places, the asphalt is going to start melting, not everywhere of course, but it is going to get much softer. So you can imagine how that might end?

“The solution will be to pour water on it,” he says explaining the Tour has a permanent truck for such demands.

Last modified: July 16, 2022