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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Racers roll out just after the start of the Champery World Cup.
Venue/date changes and a new format mean a longer next season
The UCI announced the major events that will comprise its 2012 mountain bike calendar including the World Cup and world championships venues and dates. Its management committee approved the calendar today in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Furthermore, the UCI announced a new World Cup and world championship discipline and confirmed worldwide dates for the national championship weekends.
World Cup changes
Next year's edition of the World Cup series will comprise 10 events in nine countries on three continents. There will be seven rounds for each of the traditional mountain bike disciplines: Olympic cross country, downhill and four cross.
The cross country eliminator will be a new discipline introduced to the World Cup for 2012. Several rounds will count toward a final, overall ranking.
As in 2011, the 2012 World Cup will open in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, although it will happen about one month earlier. Traditional venues such as Fort William, Great Britain; Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada; Val di Sole, Italy; and La Bresse, France once again feature on the 2012 calendar.
However, La Bresse, known for its downhill course, will next year organise a round of Olympic cross country in honour of Julien Absalon, multiple World Champion and double Olympic Champion, who lives just 15km from the French World Cup venue.
A new triple event will be organised in Val d’Isère, France, site of the 2009 World Ski Championships. This will be the final cross country event of the World Cup season, and the last time these specialists will meet before the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, the final downhill and four cross events will take place in a new venue, the Hafjell Bike Park, Norway, which hosted the 2010 European Championships. Notably, this final World Cup round will occur after the world championships.
Other venues for the 2012 Mountain Bike World Cup are Houffalize, Belgium, which will return to the calendar after one year's absence, and Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech, which will host an event for the second time.
Dalby Forest, Great Britain, and Offenburg, Germany, will not be venues on the 2012 World Cup, nor will this year's world championships host Champery, Switzerland. Whether Windham, New York, United States will be included remains to be determined. The UCI said one round on the American Continent remains to be confirmed.
World championship changes
The 2012 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in Austria will be run in a new format over two weekends and the week in between instead of the traditional one-week period.
The downhill and four-cross competitions will take place in Leogang from August 31 to September 2, 2012, while the Olympic cross country, cross country eliminator and trials specialists will confront each other in Saalfelden from September 6-9, 2012.
The cross country eliminator (XCE) format will make its debut as a world championship discipline.
UCI marathon series
Finally, the UCI Management Committee today also approved the first four events of the new UCI Mountain Bike Marathon series for 2011 - 2012. This series, which will be qualifying for the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, will begin after the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon Worlds, which will be held in Montello, Italy, on June 26.
2012 UCI Mountain Bike Calendar
2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Calendar
March 17-18: Cross country #1, Downhill #1 & Four cross #1, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
April 14-15: Cross country #1 (with Eliminator), Houffalize, Belgium
May 12-13: Cross country #3 (with Eliminator), Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech
June 2-3: Downhill #2 & Four cross #2, Val di Sole, Italy
June 9-10: Downhill #3 & Four cross #3, Fort William, Great Britain
June 23-24: Cross country #5, Downhill #4 & Four Cross #4, Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
June 30-July 1: Cross country #6, Downhill #5 & Four cross #5, TBD in America
July 28-29: Cross country #7, Downhill #6 & Four cross #6, Val d'Isere, France
September 15-16: Downhill #7 & Four cross #7, Hafjell, Norway
August 11-12: London, Great Britain
August 31 - September 2: Downhill & Four cross, Leogang, Austria
September 5 - September 9: Cross country & eliminator, Saalfelden, Austria
September 22-23: Marathon, Ornans, France
National championships weekends
July 21-22: Cross country, Downhill & Four cross, worldwide
September 22-23: Marathon, worldwide