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Four cross racers in Leogang
Austrian venue builds on success of 2012 mountain bike Worlds
Elite racing is returning to Austria's Saalfelden Leogang, which will be hosting the final 2013 UCI Downhill World Cup stop and the UCI Four Cross World Championships from September 19 to 23.
Last year's UCI Mountain Bike World Championships entertained the masses with more than 43,000 visitors, 750 riders and over 350 journalists from all over the world. Each of the five mountain bike disciplines crowned their world champions after thrilling competitions. Cross country, trials and the debut of cross country eliminator were all hosted in Saalfelden, while downhill and four cross contests took place at the Bikepark Leogang. Organizers said the event was a success and noted that the 2012 Worlds were completed with balanced books.
The UCI decided to double up on holding the 2013 downhill World Cup final in Saalfelden Leogang as well as the four cross world championships in part due to the success of the 2012 events.
Last year's downhill world champions Greg Minnaar and Morgane Charre will have to fight off the world's elite to remain the fastest in Leogang. Rivals such as Aaron Gwin, Steve Smith, Sam Hill, the Atherton siblings and the Austrian riders like Markus Pekoll and Petra Bernhard already know the Bikepark's downhill track like the back of their hand and will give everything in the battle for the World Cup title.
The decision to move the four cross Worlds from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to Saalfelden Leogang was only announced in February 2013. It means that for the first time ever, a four cross world championship will not be arranged within a UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championship, but as a separate UCI Four Cross World Championship event.
The UCI's MTB coordinator Peter van den Abeele said, "There is appropriate enthusiasm in Saalfelden Leogang about hosting the four cross world championships. This event could bring fresh air into the discipline."
Saalfelden Leogang will also hold a round of the Four Cross ProTour one week before Worlds, on September 14th-15th, giving Worlds participants the chance to familiarize themselves with the Leogang track before the final race.