By Kirk Mawlazes, Antarctic Editor
In an effort to boost tourism to the world's seventh continent, the Antarctic Heritage Trust and several Antarctic tour companies have come together to announce a new cyclo-cross World Cup event for the 2008-09 season, named the 'Antarcticross Cup.' The two races will be held at the British outpost of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island in the Antarctic peninsula and at Patriot Hills at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains. It will be the first cycling event of its kind on the entire continent.
The event is fully supported by the UCI, which has been pushing for globalisation of the sport in recent years. The governing body is hoping to gain a foothold in the far southern hemisphere by promoting one of just two sporting events in Antarctica, the other being the annual marathon, know as the Ice Marathon. In fact, the two races will be held on similar dates to facilitate spectators interested in watching both.
"We planned our dates of 13-14 December because the marathon is on 12 December, which makes for and entire weekend of sport on the continent," said race director Cody Maverick. "This is going to be a very exciting race and should add even more depth to the world cup series."
While some might assume the extreme nature of the Antarctic environment would prove to be too harsh, with some of the most extreme cold temperatures found on Earth, Maverick said that the December date in the heart of the Austral summer allow for bearable temperatures. "Summer temperatures are routinely around -6 C (20 F), which is not much harsher than that of northern Europe. The only major temperature difference is the wind, which could make it much colder. Also there are a lot of penguins around the area - but that is what will make it interesting!"
An Ilyushin-76 plane will be used to transport the entirety of race personnel, riders and equipment to each site. People interested in spectating will be able to arrange for transport with one of the many companies that provide sea/land tours to the Austral region. Riders will be encouraged to make appropriate adjustments to their equipment, such as special treads for the tyres.