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But where will they pee? Road World Championships start in Belgium

15:43 22/09/2021

The UCI Road World Championships have kicked off, taking place in Belgium for the first time in nearly 20 years. Time trials are currently under way, and will be followed by Junior and Under 23 road races, the Women’s Elite Race on Saturday and the Men’s Elite Race on Sunday.

The Elite races start on the Grote Markt in Antwerp and head to Leuven. They wind south to Overijse and Tervuren before heading back to Leuven to finish. Both the men’s and women’s races follow the same route, but the men are required to repeat the Leuven and Tervuren circuits.

The women’s route is 158km, takes off from Antwerp at 12.20 and is expected to wrap up at about 16.45 in Leuven. The men’s route totals 268km, will take off at about 10.30 and finished at about 17.00.

That’s a whole lot of hours, and perhaps you have thought to yourself at some point: How do pro cyclists pee during a race? Or maybe you haven’t, but it’s made the headlines this week.

When nature calls

During a race, cyclists can choose different ways to pee. Sometimes a peloton will agree among themselves to stop for a pee and all go at once. They hop off their bikes and hop back on more or less at the same time.

If someone out front stops to pee, the cyclists behind are honour bound to wait until they are back on track. Sometimes cyclists don’t wait, but the rider is allowed to follow behind one of the race cars to get back to his original place – should they manage it.

For men, there are more options, of course. Sometimes he might whip it out and pee while on his bike, held steady by a teammate – or even someone from another team. And sometimes they simply … wait for it … pee their pants. It’s faster and simpler, if not terribly comfortable.

But why are we telling you all of this? Well, because often when cyclists pull over to pee – particularly women – they choose a spot without spectators. This avoids embarrassment all the way around. But on this particular route, there is nary a spot without room for fans. On top of that, much of the routes are within cities where public urination is not allowed. Doing it means a fine for your team.

Accommodation full

Belgian cyclist Thomas De Gendt likened the world cup of cycling to the Tour de France. “There are a huge number of people along the course there, too,” he told VRT. “We just have to wait until there’s like a 200-metre stretch with no people. You see 50, 60 cyclists stopping there.”

But De Gendt reveals another way dudes can pee. “We empty out our water bottles and pee in them. We stick them inside our shorts and then either empty them out along the route or toss them away. That is, by the way, the reason why you should never drink out of a cyclist’s water bottle.”

Words to the wise, if we ever heard them. Here’s another: Don’t bother trying to book a room or camping space at this point anywhere along the route. They are full.

“Guests started booking at the end of last year,” Herman Reynaerts of Camping Druivenland in Overijse told VRT, “and there are not a whole lot of camping sites here.”

Photo ©Yuzuru Sunada


Written by Lisa Bradshaw