21 February 2014
Following its successful hosting of the UCI MTB World Championships in 2013, the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa is gearing up to host the opening event of the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup from 11 to 13 April.
It will be the fifth time in six years that the world’s leading mountain bikers visit the KwaZulu-Natal capital, which will also host the UCI Marathon World Championships at the end of June.
The Cascades MTB Park event will include the familiar Cross Country and Downhill disciplines, but won’t include the Eliminator discipline introduced to the Pietermaritzburg fans at last year’s World Championships.
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.
“It’s exciting to be heading into a fifth season of international Mountain Bike events at The Cascades MTB Park,” said event director Alec Lenferna.
“We have shown over the years that we are capable of organising events to the highest global standards, and our courses have been uniformly praised as some of the best in the world.
“It is great to hear from the riders themselves that they look forward to coming back to Pietermaritzburg because of the high standards of the course and the warm hospitality they enjoy here,” he added.
The schedule has been altered to host the Downhill finals on the Saturday, swopping places with the Cross Country final, which will now take place on the Sunday.
Simon Burney, the MTB Sport Coordinator at the UCI’s Sport and Technical Department said the dropping of 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,” he explained.
Burney also 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,” he said. “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 added.
Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said the region was ideally suited to events of the scale of the MTB World Cup because it had the infrastructure to cater for the riders, support teams and fans. Veness also serves as the event organising committee president.
‘A significant injection’
“The city has the capacity in terms of bed nights to accommodate all the teams and riders relatively close to the course,” she explained. “The incoming participants bring a significant injection into the regional economy, which we are excited about.”
“But just as exciting is the value of the positive image of Pietermaritzburg that is projected all over the world, both as a tourist destination, a city that hosts sporting events to the highest standards, and a region that recognises the value of sporting events.”