Heat wave hits tour
Posted: Monday July 20, 1998 05:14 PM
PAU, France (CNN/SI) -- Many cyclists raised fears with regard for their health should the heatwave that France is currently experiencing continue. Temperatures were reported to have reached 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) on Monday.
In response the tour organizers have waived the on drink restrictions, allowing riders to be given bottles at all times during Monday's ninth stage 210-kilometer (130-mile) between Montauban and Pau.
"If the heat goes on like this, there will be terrible damage in the mountains," said former world champion Luc Leblanc, referring to Tuesday's first series of climbs through the Pyrenees.
"We don't mind a little bit of heat. But this is too much," echoed French champion Laurent Jalabert.
After almost a week of cloudy and relatively cool weather, the riders were forced to scramble to their support cars for water bottles in Monday's baking heat.
"It's a real problem. You are forced to drink a lot of water. Sometimes it is too cool and you run the risk of catching gastro-enteritis," said Jalabert, who was forced to retire from the Tour two years ago due to the heat.
Sprint specialist Mario Cipollini, winner of two stages this year, gave up on Monday, also citing stomach problems because of the temperatures.
"I poured 20 bottles over me to cool my body and I drank five to six liters of water," said Dutchman Leon Van Bon, winner of the Pau stage.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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