The UCI (Union Cycliste Inernationale) announced yesterday at a board meeting in Salzburg that Cycling South Africa has been awarded the rights to host the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in KwaZulu-Natal.
The popular mountain biking venue of Karkloof was evaluated and considered the selected marathon venue by Simon Burney, UCI’s technical delegate, with the area and its abundance of forestry roads, dual track and singletrack lending more to what the endurance race would need for the championship course design.
Event director Alec Lenferna has been instrumental in securing prestigious UCI events to the Pietermaritzburg area since 2009, when the city first hosted the 2009 UCI MTB World Cup, offering the cross-country and downhill races to take place at the same venue – a factor not commonly found at most world cup venues around the world.
“It is most encouraging to get very positive feedback from the UCI every time we stage an event,” said Lenferna. “Each time we successfully host an event at World Championship or World Cup level we deepen the pool of officials and administrators with the experience and ability to stage competitions to the very highest standards.”
Cycling SA MTB Director Brett Coates was elated with the news. “It is wonderful to see South Africa regularly included amongst the world’s destinations when it comes to elite mountain bike racing,” said Coates. “There will be participation from a large international contingent for the marathon champs in 2014.”
Similar to the way in which the XCO and DHI cup races and championships are held, the marathon discipline also sees a series of races across the globe whereby the winner is crowned the “Marathon Series Champion”, of which the Sabie Classic was part of this year. The marathon world champion is crowned from a one-off championship race.
Dates are yet to be confirmed but Lenferna said that the marathon world champs would more than likely take place around September or October in 2014.
Pietermaritzburg also plays host to the UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) Final in August this year; a road race and time trail championship previously known as the UCI Masters Road World Championships.
KwaZulu-Natal’s capital has hosted an unprecedented number of top-class elite cycling events such as the UCI BMX World Championships, UCI BMX Supercross World Cups, UCI MTB World Cups (XCO and DHI), UCI World Cycling Tour, and looks ahead in anticipation to welcome the world’s best in 2013 for the UCI MTB World Championships (XCO and DHI) and the UCI MTB Masters World Championships the week prior.