It’s safe to say cyclocross riders aren’t averse to a bit of mud, but those who lined up for the Polish national championships at the weekend were forced to wade through 60cm deep sludge as they completed laps of the circuit.
Heavy rain the night before the Sunday race, which took place in Włoszakowice in west-central Poland, saw parts of the course turned into a quagmire, a valley section specifically.
In a video from the event, riders can be seen getting off their bikes to round a corner through a forest, grimacing as they tackle the deep mud.
Several riders sprint into the corner and instantly find themselves half-submerged, much to the delight of onlooking spectators.
After tackling the cyclo-swamp, riders are given a bit of light relief as they are faced with a hill to sprint up during the 3km-long course.
“Wanting to move forward and still be on the spot. The image of the Polish cyclocross riders during the national championship symbolises the current situation of the coronavirus year of 2021,” was the accurate summing up of the situation from Belgian journalist Stijn Vlaeminck.
There were also sloppy conditions at the recent UCI Cyclocross World Cup round in Dendermonde, Belgium, won by Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert.
Strom Bella had brought heavy rain to Europe, with race organisers removing a bridge from the course due to strong winds, with further modifications needed after the women faced knee-deep mud.
After the race, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) criticised the heavy course, saying it was not worthy of a World Cup round.
A clip of US champion Katie Compton showed just how tough the conditions were, losing valuable time as she battled to free her feet from the mud.
The cyclocross season reaches its climax next week with the World Championships, which will take place in Dübendorf, Switzerland. The men’s elite race offers up the scintillating prospect of Van der Poel, Van Aert and Britain’s Tom Pidcock battling it out for the rainbow bands.