UCI brings changes to Mountain Bike World Cup format for 2014

No eliminator at Pietermaritzburg opener

When mountain bike racers and fans return to the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on April 11-13, they will notice some changes to the programme brought about by the International Cycling Federation (UCI).

The schedule has been rejigged to host the downhill finals on the Saturday, swopping places with the cross country final, which will now take place on the Sunday.  Furthermore, the eliminator, which was a crowd-pleasing feature of the world championships last year, has been dropped from the programme altogether.

Simon Burney, the Mountain Bike Sport Coordinator at the UCI's Sport and Technical Department says dropping the eliminator had nothing to do with the event's popularity but rather the lack of daylight hours to fit in the entire programme.

"It has only been dropped from Pietermaritzburg, simply due to lack of daylight with no options to fit it elsewhere into an already packed schedule," said Burney.

Burney pointed out that swopping the downhill and cross country was actually reverting to the original format for the World Cups.

"Traditionally downhill was always on the Saturday and cross country on the Sunday," said Burney. "It only changed a few years ago."

"This year we had a couple of organisers who asked about the option to switch it back, particularly Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada who have the Commonwealth Games just three days before their event, so they wanted to give the riders travelling from Scotland an extra day to get there, recover from travel, and train on the course."

"Also for the downhill riders, when they raced on Sunday, Saturday was a kind of wasted day for them, with just a short training period. This gives them a shorter overall schedule without affecting their training or competition," Burney said.

Burney said the UCI was striving to get consistency in their event formats across all their World Cup events.

"Some venues and organisers put a greater emphasis on one discipline over another, and get a larger crowd for that discipline. The only request from television is to have consistency throughout the season, both on the days of the finals of the televised events, and as close as possible the same time of day, throughout the season.

"It will be interesting to see viewing figures and get feedback from each event with the changed schedule, and we will take that into consideration when looking at the schedules moving forward," he said.

Pietermaritzburg will host the best riders in the mountain bike world for its fifth time in six years. The city first hosted a leg of the UCI MTB World Cup circuit in 2009, and again in 2011 and 2012, before staging the world championships last year.

The cross country course designed by Nick Floros for the world championships and the downhill course designed by Nigel Hicks will once again be used for the World Cup events, with only minor adjustments to both layouts envisaged.

Program of Events at the UCI World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Friday, April 11
08:30-11:45 Downhill Training
10:00-15:00 Cross Country Training
12:30-15:00 Downhill Qualifying Rounds

Saturday, April 12
08:30-11:45 Downhill Training
10:00-15:00 Cross Country Training
12:30-15:00 Downhill Finals

Sunday, April 13
09:00-17:00 Cross Country Finals

For more information on the South Africa World Cup, visi www.mtbworldcupsa.co.za

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