The organizer of the inaugural DH1 in 2012 made a statement as promised on Monday about the future of his international-level series.
"I will ... give myself a few more weeks time before making a final call, will further work on acquiring sponsors and on finalising the event calendar," said Ray Dulieu of DH1 and Freecaster.tv. "If I manage to secure the required budgets, we will stage DH1 and support the comparison with the Red Bull-produced UCI World Cup."
Recent news and rumors had suggested that the series may fold before it ever runs its first race in the New Year. The new series came about after Freecaster's rights to broadcast UCI Mountain Bike World Cup action were not renewed for 2013. Those behind Freecaster - including owner Dulieu - proposed a new international-level downhill series that would feature major events slotted between UCI downhill World Cups on the calendar. Elite-level athletes were expected to want to attend both high profile series and were promised the events of both series would not conflict.
In his statement, Dulieu said 2011 was ending in a satisfying way. He cited the success of "four great champions: Aaron Gwin and Tracey Moseley for the World Cup and Danny Hart and Emmeline Ragot for the world championships," Freecaster's successful broadcasts of all UCI World Cups and the launch of DH1 with its recently acquired 16,000 Facebook fans.
Looking ahead, Dulieu called 2012 "very promising for downhill mountain biking". He pointed to the supposed media deal between the UCI and Red Bull TV to webcast live and free all World Cups on the web and to broadcast the races on its TV channel [Cyclingnews is in process of confirming the status of this deal. - Ed.] Red Bull TV will supposedly use 10 HD cameras to provide the coverage.
Dulieu said the reason he created DH1 was to offer more race opportunities to pro teams without conflicting with the UCI or iXS, to secure HD live coverage with at least eight cameras, to allow amateurs to race alongside pros and to develop the best media coverage for downhill mountain biking.
"Of course, DH1 stands a chance to achieve it's objectives but it is a challenge for it doesn't have the manpower of the UCI and Red Bull combined nor does it have their financial strength," said Dulieu. "DH1 is also no longer sure that pro teams will actually compete as the attractiveness of high quality live coverage is no longer an exclusive DH1 offering. Finally, sponsors have expressed concerns that DH1 might be a second rated product next to the new World Cup and that as such their investment in what was created to be the best downhill coverage, might not bear fruits.
"The ones really pushing for DH1 to exist are thus a few core fans and the event organisers, who still see value on staging a great racing weekend."
Dulieu concluded by saying, "I thank you for all your support and hope that 2012 sees more racing opportunities for the teams and thus a larger presence of downhill mountain bike in the media. At the end of the day, whether DH1 exists or not, downhill will have benefited from our work and coverage. If Red Bull is now considering the UCI World Cup as a worthy series of event to cover, it is no doubt largely due to Freecaster's investment over the last five years and to the challenge posed by DH1. Freecaster's years in mountain bike will have made a positive difference and that is something I'm very proud of."
DH1 has announced three locations for its inaugural series on its website. Another event is agreed pending DH1 sponsors not conflicting with event sponsors, and two more events are expecting confirmation from their respective cities for permission and organization support.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.