Rain and freezing weather has forced the shortening of stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia to the ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites, organizers announced. Two of the days’ climbs have been scrapped with the stage cut back to 95 miles from the original 131 miles. The final climb of the day, the Passo Giau, which is the highest point in this year’s race at 2,233 metres altitude, has been maintained, along with the opening one at La Crosetta.

The main risk to riders would have been on the slippery descents, on the ‘Queen stage’, considered the hardest of the race, heading towards Cortina d’Ampezzo, which will host the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Colombia’s Egan Bernal was wearing a rain jacket over the leader’s pink jersey as riders headed out for the day 40 minutes late, because of the conditions.

Before the stage Lotto Soudal’s Belgian Thomas De Gendt pulled out with a knee problem.

De Gendt finished third in the 2012 edition and has won stages on all three Grand Tours, the Giro, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.

RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini

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