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The beginning of the elite men's cross country at the Offenburg World Cup
Popular mountain bike event left out of next year's World Cup
Organizers of the popular Offenburg World Cup were disappointed to learn late last week that their event would not be part of the 2012 Mountain Bike World Cup calendar. The news came just three weeks after the fifth annual running of Germany's only mountain bike World Cup.
"Sports Scheiderbauer learned last Thursday of this decision. After the initial shock, the disappointment of the organizers is great," read a statement from surprised organizers. "Scheiderbauer Sports can not explain the decision of the UCI and was almost overwhelmed by the development."
"The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2011 in Offenburg, in the opinion of the organizer was a very successful event," read the statement. "Spectators, athletes and sponsors were enthusiastic about the three-day event that, as in the four (previous) years went well.... The media attention was enormous and 20,000 spectators are the best proof of how high the interest of fans in the Ortenau is. Here mountain biking has been priority for years. It's commonplace and no longer a fringe sport."
During its tenure in the World Cup, the Offenburg round has twice (2008 and 2009) won the award of Best Cross Country World Cup. This year's event included both an eliminator, which is the new format the UCI is adding to the World Cup series in 2012, and a cross country. The Offenburg eliminator was reportedly cancelled, then re-instated in the week prior to the most recent running. Thomas Litscher (Felt Oetztal X-Bionic) and Pavla Havlikova won the eliminator while Julien Absalon (Orbea) and Julie Bresset (BH Suntour) won the cross country.
"On paper and in reality, Offenburg seems to be the perfect venue and in the past five years, the UCI, organizers and teams were always in agreement and have fully cooperated and shared a role in the steady expansion of the event," read the organizer's statement.
"I am sad and disappointed and frankly a little puzzled," said promoter Jörg Bauer Scheider. "At the World Cup this year was nothing wrong and we have again experienced a great weekend that is a showcase for the sport."
Commenting on differences between the UCI and his organization, Scheiderbauer described their relationship as "good and constructive" and in the interest of the fans, athletes and media.
"Have we made mistakes? Yes, that's normal. We are not perfect and every year we ... think of new things and improve problem areas from last year. Comparing how many happy fans we had and how many people were enthusiastic about the sport, one way or another there is an inconsistency."
Scheiderbauer also pointed out that without Offenburg, Germany is left with no World Cup stop, something likely to alienate German mountain bike fans.
Scheiderbauer hopes to talk with the UCI about the decision. "We need to sit at the table with the UCI. Currently we are in the dark. It seems unlikely that the elimination of the only German World Cup was a conscious decision against the German market and its many fans. Because we had a hugely successful event again in 2011, it doesn't all fit. Regardless of the fate of the Offenburg venue, we need to talk."
Cyclingnews contacted the UCI to inquire about its decision not to include Offenburg in the 2012 World Cup but had not yet received a reply at the time of this writing.
Offenburg was not the only World Cup not included in the 2012 World Cup calendar. Dalby in the United Kingdom and Champery in Switzerland (this year's world championship venue and a previous World Cup) were also omitted.