The world cycling championships have been taking place in Yorkshire, England over the past few days, and befitting an event in fall in England, it’s been rainy as hell. Riding a time trial bike in wet conditions like this is particularly difficult, and big puddles claimed several U-23 men’s riders during yesterday’s race.
Hungary’s Attila Valter was taken on an unintentional slip-n-slide on his bike and thankfully avoided going down too hard. When reporters asked him for comment after the race, he simply said, “Sorry, I want to go to hospital.”
European champion Johan Price-Pejtersen of Denmark also had a nasty one. One Swedish rider told Cycling News it was like riding through a lake, which looks about right:
Belgian rider Ilan Van Wilder, who also fell en route to an eventual 37th-place finish, told a Belgian paper that the rain changed everyone’s strategy. “It is super-dangerous and I think it is irresponsible to let it go ahead,” he said. “The course is dangerous. I started with the idea of following the fastest lines. I now see in the images that certain boys decided to just take the outside line, which is completely against the principles of time trial.”
His Danish pal agreed. “All of a sudden I was in a big pool of water. I’ve never experienced that before,” said Price-Pejtersen. “It was very extreme. In my opinion, they should have cancelled it until at least the pools were gone and the rain had stopped being so extreme.”
Other riders disagreed, with Norwegian Iver Johan Knotten, who finished on a road bike that wasn’t his size, noting that cycling is an “outdoor sport” with inherent risks. Organizers have modified and rescheduled a few events, but for the most part, they agree with Knotten’s assessment and will keep the races going. Inclement weather is an inherent part of what makes so many of cycling’s iconic races—what would Paris-Roubaix be without mud?—though there’s a clear line between “difficult” and “dangerous,” and it seems it’s been crossed.