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Featured Image Credit: @whereisdaz/Twitter. Joshua Prieto / Alamy.
If you’re a professional cyclist planning for a world championship then you probably wouldn’t have magpie dodging in your preparations.
With the 2022 UCI Road World Championships underway in Wollongong, about 90km south of Sydney, magpie swooping has emerged as an incredibly serious distraction.
Magpies are notorious for their springtime swopping as they aim to ‘protect’ their family from the vicious cyclists.
Although many competitors have already had to navigate multi-hour flights, logistics of bringing their equipment, and visa issues, they are currently facing their toughest test yet.
Dutch cyclist Bauke Mollema posted a video that was equal parts terrifying and hilarious of himself and team Netherlands getting attacked by the swooping pests.
That magpie was clearly out for blood.
Meanwhile, other riders have come under attack such as Belgian cyclist Remco Evenepoel who detailed his horrifying magpie stalking situation
He was reported as saying via Stuff.co: “A fairly large bird came very close, and it just kept following me.
“It was terrifying. But that's Australia, apparently. I hope it's the only time it happens, but I am afraid of it.”
Unfortunately, if you’re in Australia odds are it won’t be the final time it happens.
They aren’t just targeting the international athletes who may have an added layer of fear towards the beasts.
Aussie cyclist Grace Brown told reporter Kieran Pender that she had been swopped twice during training for the competition.
Although, she didn’t let the swooping birds get in her way as she came in second in the women’s time trial.
I mean, the UCI probably should’ve done their due diligence in mapping out the racing track, considering there is literally a bird swooping warning toward the end of the finish-line, as per Pender.
Magpies are a real concern at #Wollongong2022. Grace Brown told me she’d been swooped twice during training rides. @UCI_cycling obviously didn’t get this memo - posted just near the finish-line. pic.twitter.com/qdxT0GOyot— Kieran Pender (@KieranPender) September 18, 2022
The sign reads: “Birds swooping! Dismount and walk your bike through this area.”
Swiss rider Stefan Kung was another cyclist who had experienced quite an incident.
“Really? They're talking about birds attacking. But yeah, one of our guys has been attacked already by a magpie,” Kung said.
While cyclists are certainly accustomed to the dangers of the sport, this certainly wasn’t what they bargained for.
In fact, the consequences of the bird attacks have proved fatal in the past.
In 2019 a man was killed in the city of Wollongong after crashing his bike while attempting to avoid a swooping magpie.
Although very rarely do the attacks result in such consequences, the world will be hoping nothing of the sort eventuates over the next week.