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

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A rut forms as riders take the high line on the off-camber

A rut forms as riders take the high line on the off-camber (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Evie Richards (Great Britain)

Evie Richards (Great Britain) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Evie Richards (Great Britain) is a favourite for the U23 women's race

Evie Richards (Great Britain) is a favourite for the U23 women's race (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Lars van der Haar on the Valkenbug course

Lars van der Haar on the Valkenbug course (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Riders take the high line on the off-camber

Riders take the high line on the off-camber (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Belgian coach Sven Vanthourenhout was out with the team examining the Valkenburg course

Belgian coach Sven Vanthourenhout was out with the team examining the Valkenburg course (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Belgian coach Sven Vanthourenhout was out with the team examining the Valkenburg course

Belgian coach Sven Vanthourenhout was out with the team examining the Valkenburg course (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tim Merlier (Belgium) has to put a foot down on the off-camber

Tim Merlier (Belgium) has to put a foot down on the off-camber (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel tests out the off-camber with his Dutch teammates

Mathieu van der Poel tests out the off-camber with his Dutch teammates (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Lars van der Haar (Netherlands)

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Lars van der Haar (Netherlands)

Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tim Merlier (Belgium)

Tim Merlier (Belgium) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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A bit of Swiss-style landscape in the Netherlands

A bit of Swiss-style landscape in the Netherlands (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Helen Wyman surely found the conditions to her liking

Helen Wyman surely found the conditions to her liking (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Crashes are going to be common on this off-camber

Crashes are going to be common on this off-camber (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Belgian Karen Verhestraeten on the run-up

Belgian Karen Verhestraeten on the run-up (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tim Merlier (Belgium)

Tim Merlier (Belgium) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

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 pic.twitter.com/sw0upj2aJd