Giro stage called off after heavy snow overnight

By Alasdair Fotheringham, Reuters

Posted at May 24 2013 07:31 PM | Updated as of May 25 2013 03:31 AM

PONTE DI LEGNO, Italy - Heavy snow has forced Giro d'Italia organisers to call off Friday's mountainous stage 19 from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello.

"Due to adverse weather conditions and, in particular, snow on the stage route in its entirety, stage 19... has been cancelled," race organisers RCS Sport said in a news release on Friday.

Poor weather had already led RCS to make changes to the stage 19 route on Thursday, cancelling two of the three major mountain climbs, the Gavia and Stelvio, but they had hoped to retain the final ascent to Val Martello.

However, major overnight snowfall, temperatures well below freezing on the major mountain passes and sleet falling in the region's valleys on Friday morning has caused the entire stage to be cancelled.

The fate of the race's final mountain stage on Saturday, with a finish at the emblematic Tre Cime di Lavaredo, will be decided later on Friday or early Saturday morning.

The 21-stage race is due to finish in Brescia on Sunday. Italy's Vicenzo Nibali currently leads by more than four minutes ahead of Australia's Cadel Evans and Colombia's Rigoberto Uran. ([email protected])