Downhillers will have a chance to compete in a new international-level series in 2012. Freecaster.tv announced the DH1 Downhill Mountain Bike Pro World Tour last week. Although no specific venues and dates have been publicized, approximately six events are expected.
Freecaster.tv has been the source for online streaming of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup events through 2011, but the company's contract with the UCI was not renewed for 2012, so it was looking for an alternative series to cover.
According to the series website, www.dh1.tv, the new DH1 series will not conflict with the UCI Downhill World Cup, an important strategy since it will be looking to draw from the same pool of top gravity talent. Each event will be covered with eight HD cameras which feed the online TV production. Rob Warner will provide the live commentary. Each round will offer 11,025 euros in prize money while 23,228 euros will be associated with the overall.
Open to men and women, the format will include qualifying for 150+ entrants. 30 riders will move into the small final and 30 riders into the pro final including the top 20 pros who will be "protected" for a guaranteed spot in the finals. Gaps between the top 20 racers will be adjusted to that the entire run of each racer can be broadcast. The best five races will count toward series standings and racers must participate in five of six events to qualify for overall prize money.
While no series specifics have been announced, the series website promises that the first DH1 event will be announced on Facebook when the number of fans reaches 10,000, which could happen as soon as the end of this week.
Whether the series events will be UCI-sanctioned events is yet to be determined.
According to Mountain Bike Rider, the split between Freecaster.tv and the UCI occurred when the UCI increased the amount of royalties it was demanding for the continued right to broadcast. Freecaster CEO Ray Dulieu said the amount was triple the asking price.
Whether or not the top international gravity mountain bike teams will buy into the series remains to be seen. According to dirt.mpora.com, Santa Cruz Syndicate and CG were the only two teams to have signed a document submitted for review by September 30, but other teams are reportedly considering involvement.
The lack of conflict with UCI World Cup dates may help convince other teams, but they will have to come up with a travel budget for events beyond the seven downhill World Cups.