If you’re not already excited, you definitely should be! Here’s a brief look at UCI 2014 events coming up this summer and a bit of an explanation as to what is actually going on in the world of competitive mountain biking.
Assuming you didn’t already know, each year the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) arranges several stages of competitive riding at various mountain biking locations around the world.
Events include Downhill, easily my favourite to watch, Olympic Cross-Country, and a Cross-Country Eliminator. The eliminator is a relatively new mountain bike race format where four riders compete against each other in each heat. The two fastest riders get to the next round and the two slower riders are eliminated from the race. So there is something for everyone to watch.
This year there will be nine stages in nine different countries, kicking off on the 10-14 April at Cascade MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The final of the 9 stages of the UCI World Cup will be held on the 23-24 August 2014 in Méribel, France. This stage will be the most nail-biting as the winner will take the glory of being the 2014 champion and last year was a close one!
Based on last year’s final in Leogang, the atmosphere was intense, even for me as a digital spectator. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, especially if you pick a rider to follow (Go Manon Carpenter!). In the final stage, the riders in Méribel will have just one last chance to size each other up before the MTB & Trials World Championship which begin in Hafjell, Norway shortly afterwards. It’s non stop!
This year two of the World Cup destinations are brand new: Cairns, Australia and Méribel, France – each hosting a triple event. The second round of races in Cairns will give us a chance to look at the track and let the riders practice for the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships, which will also take place there in 2017. Cairns is known as “Tropical North Queensland” for its rainforests and mountainous landscape – worlds apart from the tracks we are used to seeing!
Another newcomer is Albstadt in Germany, compared to old favourites like Fort William in Scotland, having only featured on the circuit once before in 2013. It will host competitions in Olympic cross-country and Cross-Country Eliminator disciplines, so no downhill action unfortunately. Zipping across the Atlantic to the USA is Windham, Maine which returns to the schedule with all 3 disciplines after not appearing last year, so this will be a new one for me to watch. There’s even a UCI World Championship 2014 Trailer !
Regarding names, who’s who and who’s what – it’s a good idea to keep yourself on how each rider is faring and at which stage the competition is at in order to get the most out of it as a spectator. Check out the schedule below that I got from the offical UCI page and keep an eye out for updates across the web (and here!). There is usually a pre-race course run on YouTube the day before each event, so you can really understand what the riders have to tackle!
Fortunately for home spectators like me, RedBull will be providing UCI Mountain Bike World livestream coverage in Pietermaritzburg this weekend, you can view it here. The events and starting times are below:
- UCI DHI World Cup 13:15 GMT 12 April 2014
- UCI XCO Womens World Cup 11:50 GMT 13 April 2014
- UCI XCO Mens World Cup 14:20 GMT 13 April 2014
2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Schedule
|UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Round 1||10-13 April||Pietermaritzburg (RSA)|
|UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Round 2||26-27 April||Cairns (AUS)|
|UCI World Cup XCO/XCE Round 3||24-25 May||Nove Mesto na Morave (TBC) (CZE)|
|UCI World Cup XCO/XCE Round 4||31 May – 01 June||Albstadt (GER)|
|UCI World Cup DHI Round 3||07-08 June||Fort William (GBR)|
|UCI World Cup DHI Round 4||14-15 June||Leogang (AUT)|
|UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Round 5||02-03 August||Mont-Sainte-Anne (CAN)|
|UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Round 6||09-10 August||Windham (USA)|
|UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Round 7||23-24 August||Méribel (FRA)|
Some British riders I’m keeping a close eye on are Rachel and Gee Atherton who are racing for GT, Manon Carpenter for Saracen, Brandon Fairglough for Scott, Danny Hart for GIANT, Josh Bryceland for Santa Cruz and Tahnee Seagrave for FMD. Remember these names!