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Magpie attacks cause chaos at Cycling World Championships Wollongong

Magpie infestation wreaks havoc on top riders on planet at world cycling championships as expert warns holding races during season is ‘recipe for disaster’

  • Magpies attack cyclists at World Cycling Championships in Wollongong
  • The organizers have placed a finish line right near a magpie nesting area
  • Illawarra vet says racing during shutter mating season is recipe for ‘disaster’
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The best cyclists on the planet have been terrorized by swooping skaters while competing at the Cycling World Championships in Wollongong on the NSW south coast.

More than 1000 competitors are down as the prestigious event is held in Australia for the first time in more than a decade – but it seems no one has told them of the danger the birds pose from August to October as they defend their young and nests.

Terrified Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel (pictured competing in a time trial at Wollongong) says he's already been 'hunted' by a bird: 'I'm scared of it'
Terrified Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel (pictured competing in a time trial at Wollongong) says he's already been 'hunted' by a bird: 'I'm scared of it'

Terrified Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel (pictured competing in a time trial at Wollongong) says he’s already been ‘hunted’ by a bird: ‘I’m scared of it’

Magpie infestations are such a big problem in Wollongong that this sign was put up at Lang Park, where the finish line for one of the races is located
Magpie infestations are such a big problem in Wollongong that this sign was put up at Lang Park, where the finish line for one of the races is located

Magpie infestations are such a big problem in Wollongong that this sign was put up at Lang Park, where the finish line for one of the races is located

The Magpie attacks have left some of the sport’s biggest names badly shaken and looking over their shoulders every time they get on their bikes.

‘A rather large bird came very close [during a training ride] and it just kept following me,’ Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel told CyclingNews.

‘It was terrifying. But apparently it’s Australia. I hope it’s the only time it happens, but I’m afraid it will.’

Incredibly, the organizers have set the finish line for one of the races right near a treasure nesting area in the beach area of ​​Lang Park – where there is even a council sign saying: ‘The birds are shooting! Get off and cycle through this area. Magpies breed in this area.’

Magpie attacks are relatively common in Australia during spring
Magpie attacks are relatively common in Australia during spring

Magpie attacks are relatively common in Australia during spring

“I’ve been beaten twice already since I’ve been here,” said Australian rider Grace Brown, who won silver in the women’s time trial on Sunday. Guardian Australia.

‘It’s not just the international athletes who are worried about it. I get quite scared of skaters.’

Magpie attacks are relatively common in Australia during the spring, prompting locals to put plastic spikes on their helmets and take other steps to reduce the risk of being attacked.

However, given the time and expertise cycling teams put into aerodynamic improvements, it is unlikely that riders at the event will change their headgear.

‘Some guys said you should mount some antennae on your helmet to scare them away, but it’s not so good for aerodynamics,’ joked Swiss rider Stefan Küng last week after a team-mate was overtaken.

While most riders' reactions to skate attacks are light-hearted, they can be dangerous - in 2019 a cyclist died in Wollongong after being assaulted
While most riders' reactions to skate attacks are light-hearted, they can be dangerous - in 2019 a cyclist died in Wollongong after being assaulted

While most riders’ reactions to skate attacks are light-hearted, they can be dangerous – in 2019 a cyclist died in Wollongong after being assaulted

While most riders’ reactions to the birds have so far been relatively light-hearted, skate attacks on cyclists traveling at high speed can be very dangerous.

In 2019, a cyclist died in Wollongong after being attacked by a magpie.

The 76-year-old crashed into a fence post as he tried to escape one of the soaring birds and died after being taken to hospital in a critical condition.

The leading local veterinarian Dr. Paul Parland has told a radio station that he believes the coyote’s mating season combined with racing cyclists is a recipe for “disaster”.

“I know in the northern suburbs there have been a few problem magpies over the last few years that have resulted in some really difficult situations,” Parland said.

“Magpies can be quite territorial and there’s going to be a lot going on in their particular areas.”

The lead veterinarian in the Illawarra, Dr.  Paul Parland, has told a radio station that he believes the taxon's mating season combined with racing cyclists is a recipe for 'disaster'
The lead veterinarian in the Illawarra, Dr.  Paul Parland, has told a radio station that he believes the magpie mating season combined with racing cyclists is a recipe for 'disaster'

The lead veterinarian in the Illawarra, Dr. Paul Parland, has told a radio station that he believes the taxon’s mating season combined with racing cyclists is a recipe for ‘disaster’

Parland has urged people to take care and travel in groups.

‘Birds that spin tend to target people who are alone and also people who are moving very quickly.

‘Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to slow the cyclists down to take a breather when the birds whiz by.’

Magpie Alert, a website that monitors and records skate attacks in Australia, currently lists over 1,590 incidents so far this year, causing numerous injuries.

Magpies tend to brood for about six weeks as their mates incubate eggs and while the young are very young.

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