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Cyclists Race in Europe’s Heat Wave
By: Emily Zhang
A cyclist bikes ferociously down the melted road, sweat streaming down his forehead. Another cyclist collapses in mid-course and is taken to the hospital for heatstroke. Yet one more suffers burns from being “roasted” on his bike. The Tour de France has been a test of endurance, but as the temperatures rise nearly 20 degrees higher than the average, questions have been raised about whether this summer’s competition is making the cyclists’ race much more extreme. Spectators wonder what the race really means to the bikers.
Spectator Evelyne Brunet expressed concern for the state of the bikers. “They’re white and green in the faces, it’s horrible.” She said as she rested in the shade. “And then – those eyes! When they take those long turns up the mountains, when they look at the water…”
The risen heat of France has changed the Tour de France. In those extreme conditions, it becomes a challenge for the body to cool itself when the weather is both hot and humid. In a heat wave so extreme that water is sprayed on the melting tarmac to make biking safer, humidity will also increase, at least according to Stephen S. Cheung, a biker and professor of kinesiology at Brock University.
Along with that spraying water, many other solutiions are being attempted in hopes of preventing the heat. Before the beginning of a section in the race, cyclists spend time with ice packs strapped on in the shade. When biking, they change out the wool jerseys they usually wear to ones that can maximize the power of the cool wind. When done racing, the roasted athletes cool down in foot baths as cold as 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yet, these attempts only make the racing in the 93 degrees historic heat bearable, not comfortable. Instead, the racers say that the organizers are the ones that can make the competition come with more relief by changing some stages when the afternoon heat is insufferable. Unfortunately, he Tour de France organizers don’t intend to invoke this, though, saying that the “most important race of the world” should not have stages that would be shortened or canceled.
In addition to that situation, climate protestors are another disruption to the race this year. Among the protestors was Dernière Rènovation, who stated, “The world toward which politicians are sending us is a world in which the Tour de France will no longer exist.”
Disgruntled cyclists were disturbed by the protestors. But many think that the key stages of the Tour de France need to be replanned in Europe’s new summer.