CANBERRA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Tour Down Under (TDU), Australia's premier cycling event, has been shortened due to extreme heat in South Australia.
Organizers announced on Thursday that stage three of the six-stage race would be shortened with temperatures forecast to hit 41 degrees Celsius in Adelaide on Thursday and Friday.
Tour director Mike Turtur said that Thursday's stage had been cut by 26 kilometers.
"The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern," Turtur said in a media release on Thursday.
"We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen and with our chief commissaire and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance."
The decision was made after consulting with South Australia's Country Fire Service (CFS) who said there was an extreme fire risk for much of Adelaide's surrounding areas.
Phil McDonough, CFS duty commander, said authorities were particularly concerned for race spectators who would line the roads.
"The CFS has staff in the Tour Down Under operations centre to inform organizers of any fire threat, however we also need those spectators along the route to stay alert by taking notice of surroundings," McDonough told reporters on Thursday.
People who did venture out to watch the shortened race were warned to take care when parking their vehicle, saying a hot exhaust pipe could ignite vegetation.
"The CFS encourages people to avoid driving a vehicle across paddocks of long, dry grass and avoid parking in vegetation on roadsides and paddocks," McDonough said.
"We're calling for everyone to look at the CFS website and stay informed throughout the day in case a fire starts near you.
"Know where you are at all times and ensure you have at least two exits from an area if you need to escape a fire."