Following the UCI's decision to eliminate four cross from the mountain bike World Cup circuit at the end of the 2011 season, the Four Cross Alliance has been working to ensure a new four cross series would exist for 2012. The new series will be known as the "4X Pro Tour" and will consist of five rounds in at least four countries.
The first four rounds of the series are set for Houffalize, Belgium on April 15; Szczawno Zdroj, Poland on May 5; Val di Sole, Italy on June 2; and Four William, United Kingdom on June 2.
Round 5 is still being planned and an announcement of its venue is expected after the New Year begins.
"The 4X Alliance has been working with the UCI and race organisers to create the new 4X Pro Tour," read a statement by organizers. "As you can see from the calendar, we are stoked that some of the existing World Cup events have made this statement and continued with their belief that four cross should be on the World stage in 2012. Houffalize, Val Di Sole and Fort William will all host rounds of the 2012 4X Pro Tour alongside World Cup cross country and downhill during those weekends.
The men behind the new series are Chris Roberts and Scott Beaumont.
"Four cross has been gaining popularity over the past few years, and after the UCI announced it would not be part of the World Cup in 2012, we knew we had to create our own series and continue to grow the sport," said Roberts. "2012 will be important for the development of four cross and together with some fantastic support from organisers, riders and fans, we are looking forward to an awesome season."
Beaumont agreed. "Four cross is a fantastic sport and to see the UCI just wipe it out of the World Cup when so many organisers, riders and fans love the sport just seemed crazy to me. Together with Chris, we have worked hard to put together a new Pro Tour for four cross riders and we are looking forward to a future where we can help to grow four cross around the world."
The 2012 4X Pro Tour has the support top four cross stars. Czech favourites Tomas Slavik and current world champion Michal Prokop, Joost Wichman and his new four cross team, women's world champion Anneke Beerten and her arch rival Melissa Buhl are all confirmed to be competing in the Tour in 2012.
Organizers hope to add new events and locations in 2013 and noted that it could not add more in 2012 due to the short time span in which the series came to be.
More information will be available on www.4xprotour.com.
2012 4X Pro Tour
April 14: Round 1 - Houffalize, Belgium
May 5: Round 2 - Szczawno Zdroj, Poland
June 2: Round 3 - Val Di Sole, Italy
June 9: Round 4 - Fort William, United Kingdom
Date TBD: Round 5 - Location TBD