The UCI race organisers should have stopped its World Championships race for the men’s under 23 time trial today from Ripon to Harrogate, say riders who braved the rain-soaked course.
Heavy downpours in Yorkshire flooded the roads, where Dane Mikkel Bjerg won his third title. His team-mate Johan Price-Pejtersen and many others hit the deck as they tried to navigate the pools of water which blanketed the 30.3-kilometre course.
“It is super-dangerous and I think it is irresponsible to let it go ahead,” said Belgian Ilan Van Wilder told Het Laatste Nieuws.
“It was no longer raining, but really pouring. You take the longest route to avoid puddles, against all time trial principles.”
Van Wilder fell and placed 37th and hopes to recover in time for the road race on Friday. The women’s elite race in the afternoon is set to take place despite the conditions.
“The course is dangerous,” said Van Wilder. “I started with the idea of following the fastest lines. I now see in the images that certain boys who decided to just take the outside line, which is completely against the principles of time trial. They choose the longest way around to avoid puddles because they now know that puddles are dangerous.
“I didn’t know that. I took a curve and there was really a big, big puddle. I went over, completely in shock, up to my ankles in the water. It was just outrageous.”
“Irresponsible is perhaps a big word,” said fellow Belgian Brent Van Moer, who placed fifth. “We have to be able to ride through rain, too, but this was dangerous.”
Johan Price-Pejtersen became drenched when he flipped off his bike and landed on his hip and back in a pool of water. He had apparently hit something hidden underwater when racing through.
Hungarian Attila Valter fell in a similar way, rolling and sliding over the wet pavement before coming to a stop metres away from his bike.
The images spoiled what is supposed to be the cycling governing body’s biggest day of the year. It now faces critics ahead of the next events.
No decision is made on the women’s time trial, due to start in three hours. Rain remains on the forecast for Tuesday, with the clouds sticking around on Wednesday but not expected produce showers for the elite men’s race.