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Heatwave forces more Tour Down Under changes

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UPDATED: South Australia’s three-day heatwave has hit cycling’s Tour Down Under with organisers cutting short today’s third stage and cancelling tomorrow’s Challenge Tour.

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The mercury is expected to top 40C in Adelaide today and tomorrow with only slight relief from the extreme conditions expected by the weekend.

Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur says riders and officials agreed to cut today’s race from Glenelg to Victor Harbor by 26km to ensure the safety of all concerned.

“The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern,” he said.

Tomorrow’s Bupa Challenge Tour has been cancelled.

Executive director of Events SA Hitaf Rasheed said the challenge tour, which is open to members of the public and is one of the key features of Tour week, had been cancelled after organisers consulted with emergency services.

“Whilst we know there will be some disappointed participants, and we too are disappointed to be making this decision, we are confident this is the right decision,” she said.

“Safety of all involved is the highest priority and won’t be compromised.”

More than 5000 participants were preparing to ride in the event. They will have their registration fee refunded, but will be able to keep the challenge tour jersey.

The cancellation means that Stage 4 of the Tour proper tomorrow, which starts at Norwood, can begin one hour earlier, at 10.30am.

Turtur changed the stage start time to ease the heat stress on the riders.

“It is the first time in the history of the Challenge Tour that we have been required to cancel and it is the right thing to do,” he said.

“The cancellation of the ride means that we are able to start stage four one hour earlier.”

A family ride, scheduled for Victor Harbor today, was also cancelled due to extreme heat.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the blast of hot weather is being fuelled by a very hot air mass being dragged down from central Australia.

The Country Fire Service has declared extreme conditions in two SA districts with seven more considered extreme.

The conditions have prompted the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to issue a lack of reserve notice for a short period in the afternoon.

It expects the electricity reserve – the amount above forecast demand – will be 788 megawatts, below the 1100 megawatts of contingency power the operator requires.

But Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the state is well prepared and electricity supplies will be sufficient.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Australian Caleb Ewan is back in ochre at the Tour Down Under and this time he would like to retain the honour for more than one day.

He wears the ochre jersey as overall leader after his upset win in stage two at Stirling yesterday.

Mitchelton-Scott teammate Daryl Impey mistook Ewan for superstar Peter Sagan in the chaos of the final sprint, also sprinting to the line and taking second.

The one-two result means Ewan leads Impey by 10 seconds on the overall standings.

It is a great result for Mitchelton-Scott, particularly given they do not have an overall contender in their team.

Ewan and Impey are unlikely to stay first and second overall beyond Friday’s tough day through the Adelaide Hills and then the queen stage on Saturday at Willunga.

– with AAP

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