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World Championships Doha off to a shaky start

Josh Cunningham
10 Oct 2016

The heat takes its toll and vehicular confusion on the road affects the U23 men's TT at the World Champs in Doha.

Page 1 of 2World Championships Doha off to a shaky start

The World Championships kicked off last weekend in Doha, Qatar, with the men's and women's team time trials, as well as the men's U23 and women's junior time trials. 

Etixx-Quickstep and Boels-Dolmans triumphed in the former, while Marco Mathis and Karlijn Swinkels won the men's U23 and women's junior time trials respectively. However, the headlines of were unfortunately shared between the names of these winners and a series of incidents that the organisation will not be as proud about. 

As some had feared prior to the start of the championships, the heat has so far proven to be a very influential factor, despite the later date on the calendar, which was a measure against the hot conditions of the Middle East. In the women's team time trial there were lots of reports of riders being physically sick - either while actually competing, or after their effort - in multiple teams, including Canyon-SRAM, Cervelo-Bigla and Twenty16-Ridebiker. Video footage of Chloe Dygert from the Twenty16-Ridebiker team showed her suffering in the final few hundred metres, unable to keep up with her teammates due to the stomach ailments that were clearly impeding her. 

Meanwhile Anouska Koster, a rider from the Rabo-Liv team, was involved in a bizarre crash where she appeared to steer her bike into the barriers, causing a terrible somersault crash. Images of Koster attempting to get back on her bike showed her in a very unstable state, and it was later confirmed that she had indeed suffered from heatstroke. Despite this, Koster finished the race, presumably to ensure that her Rabo-Liv team received any UCI points that they stood for - bringing into question another contentious issue regarding the relationship between the trade teams, the World Championships and the team time trials.

Anouska Koster crashing in the women's TTT

...and attempting to get back on her bike. 

In the U23 men's time trial the controversy was involving the winner, Marco Mathis, who mid-way through his ride found himself in very close proximity to two race vehicles. The drafting benefits of this interaction are clearly imaginable, which with Mathis' eventual winning margin of 18 seconds is potentially a problem for the organisation, but the blame can not be tied to Mathis. What was he supposed to do, stop peadaling? In fact, perhaps more troubling are the measures he had to take in order to carry on pedaling, averting a crash with an ambulance simply because of some nifty bike handling skills.

Questions are duly being asked of the UCI. Was enough done to ensure the heat wouldn't be a problem? Were there enough medical personnel present to deal with the situation when it presented itself as one? Are the race personel experienced enough to be running such an event? The rest of the week will hopefully answer with more positivity. 

Page 1 of 2World Championships Doha off to a shaky start