UCI turns from Red Bull to Discovery Sports for Mountain Bike World Cup

ALBSTADT GERMANY MAY 09 Evie Richards of Great Britan competes in CrossCountry Olympic Women Elite race during UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on May 09 2021 in Albstadt Germany Photo by Christian KasparBartkeGetty Images
Evie Richards at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Albstadt in May 2021, before the went on to take out the cross-country world title in August (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The familiar go to for Mountain Bike World Cup coverage, Red Bull, looks set to change from 2023, with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announcing that it had entered into exclusive negotiations with Discovery Sports for the organisation and promotion of the series.

The races will remain with Red Bull for the 2022 season, with the mooted deal with Discovery Sports covering the eight years to 2030. 

“The proposal by Discovery Sports, which was selected by the UCI as part of a tender process, comprises several strands: those relating to sporting and commercial matters, as well as those concerning the production and broadcasting of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup,” said the UCI in a media statement.

“More detailed information on the concept developed by Discovery Sports to further drive the development of the discipline will be communicated at the signing of the contract that will bind the two parties.”

The Discovery Sports brand was created in the middle of last year to encompass Discovery Inc assets such as Eurosport, Global Cycling Network, Global Mountain Bike Network as well sports on discovery+ and Discovery’s free-to-air networks. There also look to be further change coming in the sports unit, with the listed global media company confirming earlier this month that it was in talks with BT Sport about a proposed combination of Eurosport’s UK businesses.

As part of the finalisation process of the Mountain Bike World Cup deal, Discovery Sports is set to start making contact with current and potential event organisers.

“Discovery Sports will get in touch with the 2022 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup organisers as well as all the organisers that expressed their interest in hosting a round of the series for 2023 and 2024,” said the UCI statement.

Red Bull, an energy drink brand that launched in Austria in the 1980’s and quickly found global prominence through its strong ties with high-energy events, has long been the familiar name associated with mountain biking, sponsoring high-profile athletes and providing a consistent easy to access platform that has helped promote and build World Cup interest.

“The UCI would like to thank Red Bull Media House, the producer and main broadcaster of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, who has used all its expertise to satisfy the passion of mountain bike fans around the world for more than 10 years, while significantly increasing the series' audience during this period,” said the UCI.

The World Cup – which mostly runs with a combined cross-country (XCO), cross-country short track (XCC) and downhill (DHI) programme but has some stand alone downhill locations – starts for 2022 with downhill racing in Lourdes, France on March 26-27 and for the cross-country categories in Petropolis, Brazil on April 8-10.

The UCI added that all 2022 rounds would still be available to watch on Red Bull TV and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup broadcasters’ channels.

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