Riders in the storm: Dutch cyclists brave Storm Ciara in ‘Headwind Championships’

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A competitor battles gale force winds during the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships on the storm barrier Oosterscheldekering near Neeltje Jans, south-western Netherlands, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (AP)
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A competitor battles gale force winds during the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships on the storm barrier Oosterscheldekering near Neeltje Jans, south-western Netherlands, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (AP)
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A participant gestures during the sixth edition of the Dutch Championships Headwind bikes on the Oosterscheldekering in Vrouwenpolder on February 9, 2020. (AFP)
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A competitor battles gale force winds during the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships on the storm barrier Oosterscheldekering near Neeltje Jans, south-western Netherlands, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (AP)
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A competitor wearing a onesie with Brussels sprouts battles gale force winds during the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships on the storm barrier Oosterscheldekering near Neeltje Jans, south-western Netherlands, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 09 February 2020

Riders in the storm: Dutch cyclists brave Storm Ciara in ‘Headwind Championships’

  • Intrepid band of cyclists made the most of the conditions to take part in the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships

NEELTJE JANS, Netherlands: Call them riders in the storm.
While much of northern Europe hunkered down Sunday and hoped that Storm Ciara would blow over quickly with its hurricane-force winds, an intrepid band of cyclists made the most of the conditions to take part in the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships.
The ingredients were simple: A basic bicycle with no gears, no featherweight carbon race frame, no drop handlebars, strong legs, steely resolve and wind. Lots of wind.

Yet completing the 8.5-kilometer (5.3-mile) course along the coast of Zeeland province in the southern Netherlands and across a storm water barrier as heavy winds blasted riders with sand from nearby beaches was anything but simple, even for experienced riders. Organizers provided vomit buckets at the end.
“I survived, but it’s very tough,” said 56-year-old Hans Deting, his right hand dripping with blood after he was blown off his bike.
Ultimately, the gale-force winds became too strong even for this punishing event. Organizers brought the race to an early end after 250 of the 300 riders had finished.

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READ MORE: Storm Ciara hits UK and Europe with hurricane-force winds, causing travel chaos

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While the idea of plowing headfirst into a major storm on a bicycle may sound like madness, it’s surprisingly popular in the Netherlands, where many people commute to work by bicycle despite wind or rain. Some 11,000 people expressed interest online in taking part but organizers only had a maximum of 300 places available.
This was, organizers say, as close as you can get in the largely pancake-flat Netherlands to tackling an Alpine stage in a bike race.
“We call this the Dutch mountain,” organizer Robrecht Stoekenbroek told The Associated Press. “It’s like climbing a 10% slope on the worst bike you can imagine.”
With red-and-white wind socks snapping in the wind, riders hunched over their handlebars in a desperate attempt to remain as aerodynamic as possible. Many competitors wore tight Lycra cycling clothes.
One man made a bold fashion statement by wearing a onesie emblazoned with Brussels sprouts over his cycling gear.
Crossing the Oosterscheldekering storm barrier, riders weaved across the cycle path as they struggled to maintain their balance.
“There’s nowhere to hide,” Stoekenbroek said.
Many participants, who rode one-by-one against the clock, weren’t too interested in their times. It was simply about completing the event.
“This is a bucket list thing,” Edwin van Gaalen said, as he leaned, gasping for breath, on his handlebars after finishing.
He paused to further explain.
“When you’ve done it once, you want to do it twice. And more and more and more, because this is an experience you have to experience,” he said. “So I can talk a lot about this, but you have to take part of this to feel the wind, to feel the experience, to get it all.”


‘Mission: Impossible VII’ halts Italy filming over coronavirus

Updated 25 February 2020

‘Mission: Impossible VII’ halts Italy filming over coronavirus

  • Seventh installment of ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise was scheduled to shoot in Venice for three weeks
  • taly reported its seventh death from the new coronavirus on Monday

WASHINGTON: Production on the latest film in the “Mission: Impossible” series starring Tom Cruise has been stopped in Italy following the outbreak of coronavirus cases, US media reported Monday.
According to entertainment specialist The Wrap, the seventh installment of the Paramount Pictures franchise was scheduled to shoot in Venice for three weeks.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our cast and crew, and efforts of the local Venetian government to halt public gatherings in response to the threat of coronavirus, we are altering the production plan for our three-week shoot in Venice,” a Paramount spokesperson said in a statement to The Wrap.
The spokesperson added that Cruise had not traveled to Italy, and that crew members were allowed to return home until production started.
Italy reported its seventh death from the new coronavirus Monday, but officials called for calm and reported a lower rise in the number of infections after a spike over the weekend.
The number of cases now stood at 229, the head of Italy’s civil protection department Angelo Borelli said at a press conference on Monday evening, the highest number in Europe.
In addition to “MI7,” the spread of the virus has disrupted high-profile events including Milan Fashion Week and the Venice Carnival. On Monday evening, sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora announced that six Serie A football matches would be played behind closed doors.
“Mission: Impossible VII” is due in theaters on July 23, 2021.