The riders’ faces told the story of the day. Mouths ajar, they crossed the line with blank expressions, their lips purple and dirt splashed across their skin. “Where’s the bus?” they asked their soigneurs in desperation. “Turn right, then right again.” Only a handful stopped for a drink. A few stopped for jackets. The majority, barely easing off the pedals, disappeared away to the cosy promise of warmth.

The finish of stage three of the Tour of the Alps, only a six-minute drive from that of stage two, felt a world apart. Overnight, the temperature had dropped in Schwaz, down from the mid-teens to four degrees celsius. The rainfall was light, but it was icy, the kind that seeps through to one’s bones.

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