While much of France is experiencing a historic heatwave, the country's most prestigious cycling event was stopped Friday due to a freak hail and snowstorm. Stage 19 of the Tour de France was neutralized Friday when hail, snow and ice-covered the course at the Col d'Iseran, a mountain pass located more than 9,000 feet above sea level.
🏁 The day's course has been called due to adverse weather conditions, rider times have been taken at Col de l'Iseran.— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 26, 2019
🏁 La course est arrêtée à cause des conditions climatiques. Les temps sont pris en haut du Col de l'Iseran.#TDF2019
Tour organizers cited slick and flooded conditions, saying the riders could not complete the course safely. There are some reports of landslides in the area.
Crews quickly brought out snowplows to try and clear the slush on the roads, and some plows were buried under the remains of a large landslide.
Stage 19 is the third to last stage of the nearly month-long race, which is set to finish on Sunday in Paris. Cyclers were pushing through the Alps with less than 30 kilometers to go in the stage before it was canceled due for the riders' safety.
The winter-like weather came as a shock to organizers, considering France is in the thick of a heatwave that saw the south of France reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit Thursday, with riders wearing ice vests and drinking double the amount of liquids to stay cool and hydrated.
But not only hail.July 26, 2019
AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada confirmed that "a hailstorm hit the Alps on Friday, blanketing part of the course that the riders had yet to reach. The roads and mountainside turned white due to all the hail that fell. Crews did not have enough time to clear the course before the leaders arrived, so they decided to end the stage early."
Lada added that weather could also play a factor again in Saturday's stage, the last stage spent in the Alps. "Showers and thunderstorms will be around the mountains again, so teams and spectators will need to keep a close eye on the radar yet again," he said.
After Friday's stage was canceled, finish times were taken at an unofficial checkpoint at the top of Col de L'Iseran, where Egan Bernal was in the lead — a call that some deemed controversial, as Bernal took the overall leader's yellow jersey from Julian Alaphilippe.