One week ago, the first Guiyang MTB Invitation Contest was run in Guiyang, China. The short track and cross country races were World Cup test events and may become a part of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2012.
Guiyang is a city in the south-western province of Guizhou. Eighty riders from 30 nations were at the start, including athletes from countries rarely seen on the international circuit such as India, Aruba and Ecuador. The racing attracted large crowds and was also broadcast on national television.
Martin Gujan (Swiss Cycling) and Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) triumphed in the short track while Fabian Giger (Rabobank-Giant) and Blaza Klemencic (Slovenian National Team) won the cross country races.
According to the UCI, the idea to launch the mountain bike event in the rapidly growing Guiyang stemmed from the desire of the authorities to promote environmentally-friendly practices and healthy living in the new district of Jinyang.
UCI Mountain Bike Event Coordinator Mélanie Leveau said on the UCI's website that teams and riders had appreciated this new race on the Asian continent. "The feedback has been very good and the UCI is also satisfied with the way things went at the Invitation Contest. If it does become part of the World Cup, some changes will be made to the cross country course and we will also have to create an eliminator course. We would work together to ensure that the event meets everybody's expectations and the UCI World Cup standards."
She added that the organisers had gone to great lengths to ensure the smooth running of the event. They had undertaken a major promotional campaign in the city, organised a spectacular opening ceremony, and broadcast the racing and the ceremony on a large screen in the city.
A decision on whether the Guiyang event will become part of the 2013 UCI World Cup will be made by the UCI shortly. Some have speculated that the venue would be added at the beginning of the World Cup calendar, which is presently not slated to begin until late May, two months later than in 2012 and one month later than most years.