Mud wrestling: Training on the 'cross Worlds course in Valkeburg - Gallery

The 2018 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships take place this weekend on a Valkenburg course that looks sure to produce some thrilling races. With thick mud, lots of climbing, treacherous off-camber descents and ruts galore, the riders will need impeccable skills, power and luck to win the rainbow jersey.

Friday marked the first open practice on the full course, and it quickly became apparent that the off-camber sections would be critical.

"The course is as expected with this surface," men's race favourite Mathieu van der Poel told Sporza. "It is very slippery and heavy, and it wouldn't surprise me if someone fell here."

"If I have a technical advantage, the deep tracks will make it less technical, but the best will win on this course anyway."

The World Championships begin on Saturday with the Junior Men, U23 Women and Elite Women races, and finish on Sunday with the U23 and Elite Men.

Cyclingnews will have full coverage of all five races. Click or swipe through the gallery above to see the riders tackle this course in training.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot practices the tricky descent #2018ucicrossworlds

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