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Celebrating riding into wind at the 2016 Dutch headwind world championships

The world's hardest time trial where the stronger the wind blows, the better the race

The Dutch celebrated their love of wind in a quintessential event on Sunday. Strong storm force winds with gust up to 110 kph didn’t stop racers in the Netherlands from participating in the fourth edition of the Dutch National Headwind Championships on Sunday. The strong coastal storm wind was actually welcomed unlike over in Belgium where the fourth round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup in Koksijde was cancelled.

The 8.5-km time trial takes place on the Oosterscheldekering storm barrier which was designed to protect the Netherlands from flooding due to storm surges coming from the North Sea. Racers must compete on upright single-speed classical Royal Dutch Gazelle bicycles with coaster brakes which are supplied by the organizers. The race is not UCI sanctioned.

The championships are announced three days ahead of time when a storm is forecast. On Nov. 17, the 2016 edition of the NK Tegenwindfietsen—as it is known is Dutch—was announced with wind gust of up to 110 kph in the forecast.

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The wind on the day is measured using the Beaufort scale which rates the wind force on a scale from 0 to 12. Developed in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort it is a system for representing and reporting wind speed using empirical measurements that relate wind speed to observed conditions. For the race to go on, wind is supposed to be blowing at seven (50 to 60 kph winds) or above on the Beaufort scale which is classified as near gale force.

Over the course of the race on Nov. 20 wind intensity varied between nine to 11 on the Beaufort scale with rain resulting in slower speeds than previous editions. 200 individuals and 25 teams registered for the event which has limited space and often fills up. Winds at that speed are considered storm-force.

In the perfect celebration of Dutch wind, Teun Sweere Zevenbergen a triathlete and PhD in chemistry at the University of Leiden won on the day with a time of 22:30 in the men’s time trial. Zeeland Mathilde Matthijsse won in a time of 28:09 in the women’s category.The team time trial was won by the  Jan de Jonge Cycling team. During the races first edition in 2013, the course record was set by Olympic mountain bike champion from the 1996 games, Bart Brentjens but the wind was only rated a five on the Beaufort scale on that day.

See a full gallery from the race.