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"It was terrifying": Remco Evenepoel and World Championships pros suffer magpie attacks

Home rider Grace Brown reported being "swooped" twice, while time trial silver medallist Stefan Küng was recommended a helmet antenna to keep the problem birds away — "but that's not so good for aerodynamics".....

More magpie misery for the pro riders hanging out near Wollongong's splendid sandy beaches ahead of this weekend's elite UCI Road World Championships road races, with Remco Evenepoel and Grace Brown both reporting being attacked.

Last week, a vet in Australia sounded the warning over potential attacks on riders and spectators by magpies defending their territory during the spring nesting season, similar to many incidents we have covered here on over the years.

> "Calamity" – Aussie vet sounds warning of magpie attacks at UCI Road World Championships (+ videos)

Now, speaking to the Guardian Australia, home rider and silver medallist in Sunday's elite women's time trial, Grace Brown, said she had been "swooped twice" in her first few days in the city.

"I've been swooped twice already since being here," the FDJ - Suez - Futuroscope rider told the newspaper. "So it's not just the international athletes that are worried about it. I get pretty scared by magpies."

Signs in the city — like the one below spotted near the finish line — warn of 'birds swooping' and recommend that those travelling by bicycle 'dismount and walk your bike through this area' as 'magpies are nesting.'

 Belgium's Vuelta a España hero Remco Evenepoel, his nation's first Grand Tour winner since 1978, also reported unwanted interest.

"A fairly large bird came very close and it just kept following me," he told CyclingNews. "It was terrifying. But that's Australia, apparently. I hope it's the only time it happens, but I am afraid of it."

> Terrifying scenes as Aussie cyclist dive-bombed 13 times by magpie

Last year a rider from Brisbane thought he had found a solution to keep the territorial magpies at bay – attaching bird scarer tape to his helmet, advice the silver medallist in the men's time trial, Stefan Küng, joked about after an unnamed teammate was attacked last week.

"Some guys said you have to mount some antenna on your helmet to scare them away, but that's not so good for aerodynamics," Küng suggested.

The Swiss powerhouse finished three seconds behind shock winner Tobias Foss in the men's elite time trial on Sunday, saying afterwards he "could cry" with disappointment, his second Worlds podium in three years.

Evenepoel was third, with his baffled reaction to being told who won the rainbow bands going viral soon after...

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Roulereo | 1 year ago

The crusty old Commuters (wise old men) have lots of cable/zip ties sticking out of their helmets to apparently protect from them. Maggies won't attack from front- on so sometimes you see "eyes" on the rear of the helmet too. They only protect their nest/patch, so once you're past that you're fine. It's the fear factor that gets you, v rarely is anyone pecked hard enough to get a cut. 

Steve K | 1 year ago

It's was a big enough story to get covered on the World At One on Radio 4 today.

Sniffer replied to Steve K | 1 year ago
1 like

Much bigger than active travel then?

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