A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Julien Absalon (BMC) makes it two from two in 2014 World Cup rounds
Eliminators get eliminated
The UCI released its 2015 UCI World Cup calendar today with six total cross country rounds and seven downhill rounds at nine different venues.
Perhaps the most conspicuous change is the lack of eliminators, the newest World Cup mountain bike sub-discipline. The UCI said the eliminator will still be part of the 2015 world championships, but it offered no explanation as to why it was dropping them from the World Cup calendar. Since its inception, participation in the eliminator has been significantly less than the cross country, with most top cross country racers chosing to skip the eliminator more often than not.
"The eliminator will not be present in the 2015 Mountain Bike World Cup for various logistical reasons," the UCI told Cyclingnews when asked why it was going away. "However, it will remain part of the UCI MTB World Championships. At this stage, there is not plan to replace it with anything else."
The 2015 World Cup will begin with a downhill-only round in mid-April at the new venue of Lourdes, France, which has previously hosted the French Cup.
The cross country racing gets underway at two popular venues: Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic and Albstadt in Germany on back-to-back weekends in late May. The Nove Mesto round is a sort of dress rehearsal for hosting the cross country and eliminator Worlds in 2016.
Two more gravity-only rounds follow at Fort William and Leogang, both repeat venues and former hosts of the Worlds, in the first half of June..
Then it's on to a new host venue in Lenzerheide, Switzerland in early July for a combined cross country and downhill. Lenzerheide will host World Cups for the next three years, through 2017, then will host the world championships in 2018.
Two popular North American rounds follow, again on back-to-back weekends in early August, in Windham, New York in the US and Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec in Canada.
Finally, the World Cup will wrap up in Val di Sole, Italy, which has previously hosted both the Worlds and the World Cup. That's where the overall series champions will be crowned.
"The 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup will combine some of our most traditional and popular destinations with first-time venues that are new to the riders," said UCI President Brian Cookson on the UCI's website. "We are fortunate to have the support of our committed long-term organisers as well as new organisers eager to come on board."
The World Cup will travel neither to Australia nor South Africa in 2015. Both venues have hosted in recent years. The move is expected to save the teams travel costs although it means the World Cup is less of a "world" cup.
2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup calendar
April 11-12: DHI#1, Lourdes (France)
May 23-24: XCO#1, Nove Mesto na Morave (Czech Republic)
May 30-31: XCO#2, Albstadt (Germany)
June 6-7: DHI#2, Fort William (Great Britain)
June 13-14: Leogang (Austria)
July 4-5: XCO#3 & DHI#4, Lenzerheide (Switzerland)
August 1-2: XCO#4 & DHI#5, Mont-Sainte-Anne (Canada)
August 8-9: XCO#5 & DHI#6, Windham (United States)
August 22-23: XCO#6 & DHI#7 Val di Sole (Italy)