BASIS’ Dom Goggins quoted in Cyclist analysis of the impact of climate change on pro cycling, after the 2019 Tour de France and World Championships are disrupted
Perhaps Julian Alaphilippe was about to pull off a rousing comeback on Stage 19 of the Tour de France to give France its long-awaited winner. Or we could have witnessed the advent of a true champion as Egan Bernal soloed to glory in Tignes. Or maybe Simon Yates was heading for an unprecedented third stage win.
We’ll never know. After a series of sweltering days in southern France, the Tour ground to a halt amid hailstones and a freak landslide at the foot of the final climb.
The stage result was neutralised and the GC times were calculated from the top of the preceding climb, the Col de l’Iseran, where Bernal had snatched the yellow jersey from Alaphilippe.
Further landslides took two climbs off the menu the next day as the expected climax collapsed like a sinking soufflé. The ITV4 presenter Gary Imlach pointed to the elephant in the room in his closing remarks on the race: ‘The Tour has its first Colombian winner and Egan Bernal has won what will probably be looked back on as the first Tour significantly affected by climate change.’
Dom Goggins, a consultant in sport and environment policy who has worked with British Cycling and advises the British Association of Sustainable Sport, believes July’s Tour should be a wake-up call for the sport.
‘It’s too early to directly link what happened to climate change but it’s entirely in line with what’s expected,’ he says. ‘In the long-term, extreme weather – particularly extreme heat – could be as big a challenge for cycling as doping has been.’
The physical impacts of extreme heat range from ‘performance-inhibiting to life-threatening’, according to Goggins, and include heat cramps, heat exhaustion (such as light-headedness, nausea, low blood pressure, dehydration) and heat stroke (confusion, diminished coordination, risk of death). Psychologically, riders may make rash decisions and lose concentration.