All Systems Go for 2012 MTB World Cup

Ticket sales are open and selling fast for the RockyRoads UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Pietermaritzburg, to be held at the Cascades Mountain Bike Park in less than two months.

Officials are on track to complete renovations to the world-famous facility well in time to be able to welcome the world’s best downhill and cross-country riders.

The event has major significance for two reasons. Being an Olympic year, the world’s top cross country riders are eager to get in as much top-level competition as part of their preparations for the 2012 London Games. This, together with the Cascades MTB Park having been confirmed as the venue for the 2013 World Championships, the 2012 World Cup will also be a prized opportunity to compete at the highest level and become familiar with the layouts that will decide the world crowns next year. Event organiser Alec Lenferna is confident that preparations are ahead of schedule and has a top-class team on board to handle every aspect of the event’s infrastructure.

“The World Cup 2011 was a great event and we came away from that event with ideas of how to improve the set-up, both for the riders and the spectators,” said Lenferna. “Those plans for changes and improvement are in an advanced stage and we look forward to offering an even better event from 16 to 18 March this year.

“We also view this as a dress rehearsal for the World Champs next year, and we want to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts!” he added.

The Cascades MTB Park is one of only three international standard venues that can host both the downhill and cross country disciplines at the same venue, and the experts in charge of both of those courses have plans to boldly upgrade the tracks for the World Cup.

“Everything is all set and looking good at the moment,” says Cross-Country course designer Nick Floros. “It’s likely that there will be some fairly extensive changes to the course this year, which we’re very excited about but we’re just awaiting final approval from the UCI before we get going with things in a week or two’s time.

“The UCI have requested that the two feed zones are closer together this time, which will see things becoming a little harder for the riders and suiting the climbers a little more. From a spectator’s point of view it will be great because there will be a whole lot more action taking place right in front of them all the time,” he added.

An international MTB spectacle lies ahead for KwaZulu-Natal's cycling fraternity as all is on track for this year's RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg at Cascades MTB Park. Seen here, Swiss Nino Schurter winning the 2011 XCO race. Photo Credit: Craig Dutton/Gameplan Media

Meanwhile Downhill course designer Nigel Hicks is focusing his efforts on making subtle track changes in an attempt to make the talked-about mid-section of the course a touch less physically demanding.

“There isn’t too much happening on the Downhill front just yet but we’ve got a couple of subtle changes planned, especially for the pedally middle section, which hopefully will improve the flow through there and make this stretch a little shorter time wise,” said Hicks.

“We’re also going to be putting down granite overburden on most of the track, which will make a massive difference when it rains,” he added. “Everything should be underway fairly soon and we’ll have two opportunities to test things out just beforehand and check everything is in place for the World Cup.”

Crowds flocked to watch the cycling showcase of the 2011 Downhill event, where American Aaron Gwin (pictured) claimed victory on the course in 2011, and now eagerly anticipate the start of the 2012 RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg in less than two month's time. Photo Credit: Craig Dutton/Gameplan Media

Online tickets can be purchased here . Click on ‘Purchase Tickets and Merchandise Only’ in the MTB XC/DH World Cup section. A breakdown of the ticket package options can be found here.

The RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg takes place at the Cascades MTB Park from 16 to 18 March 2012. More information can be found at .