On April 1 next year the first round of the UCI mountain bike world cup will kick off on idyllic Mambo Beach, Curaçao. With mountain biking still looking to portray a funky image, this Dutch island in the Caribbean looks to be an ideal location to 'ease' competitors into the season while still providing very challenging racing.
Dutch rider Bart Brentjens thinks the location is a good one, having last year spoken about the idea with organiser Leo van Vliet. "The exposure this event alone will have here is good for promoting the sport overall," he said.
"Curaçao can be seen as an active island", said van Vliet at a recent press conference. "I saw that three years ago when I organised the Amstel Curaçao Race. One of our first guests was Bart Brentjens, who was extremely enthusiastic about the sport's entry in the region." Van Vliet believes that "There is enough climbing and rocky sections to call it a technical parcours. The finish on the beach is unique; that's something never done before in the mountain bike world cup."
The Curaçao opener is also the first opportunity to earn points for 2008 Olympic Games qualification. Therefore, it's hoped the world's best riders will make it for the first round in the Caribbean. "The heat will become a big factor in terms of exhaustion", said Brentjens. "In April the temperature in Curaçao reaches above 30 degrees Celsius. That adds an extra bit of adversity to competing there."