The UCI (International Cycling Union) released the 2013 Mountain Bike World Cup calendar last week and a noticeable absence from the March/April slot was Pietermaritzburg’s already familiar kick-off to the global cross-country and downhill season.
South African mountain biking fans need not be disheartened though because an even bigger prize waits in the form of the once-off MTB World Championship, scheduled for 26th August to 1st September 2013.
Furthermore, South Africa will also play host to the annual UCI MTB Masters World Championships, scheduled a week prior to the elite event from 21st to 25th August 2013. The Masters event is open to all non-elite XCO and DHI participants and proves a hot favourite with the team mechanics and support crews of the elite teams that will be racing a week later.
Event organiser Alec Lenferna says that this is an opportunity that will take many years before it repeats itself again.
“The mountain bike world championship event is a very big deal,” said Lenferna. “This is the second biggest UCI event after the Road World Champs, and an opportunity like this does not come around often. It could be another 12 to 15 years before South Africa gets the opportunity to host a world championship again.”
Unlike the previous four years, where the UCI Masters Worlds was held in Brazil, the Masters will now be held in the same country as the host of the elite world cup events going forward.
“With our proposal to the UCI to host both Elite and Masters world championship events one week apart at the same venue, the UCI have now changed their ruling and all future Masters world championships will be hosted by the same country as that of the main elite, U23 and junior event in future,” continued Lenferna.
The word “Masters” refers to all non-elite riders from any of the 30+ age categories, including Sub-Veterans, Veterans, Masters and Grand Masters. No qualification criteria is needed to enter, but the best way to test your skills in the XCO and DHI disciplines is to participate in your local provincial and national events.
Lenferna also confirmed that Pietermaritzburg would host the UCI MTB World Cup opening rounds once again in 2014 and 2015.