Pietermaritzburg – With this past weekend’s action from the Mont-Sainte-Anne leg of the UCI MTB World Cup season having now wrapped up in Canada, all of the world’s MTB fraternity’s attention has now turned to Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa as the region prepares to host both the UCI MTB Masters World Championships and the premier MTB event on the calendar – the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships.
The two events, being staged consecutively at the same venue for the first time in history, promise to create two memorable and historically significant weeks for cycling on the African continent with thrills and spills a plenty expected throughout.
For many local amateur over 30’s, the Masters spectacle will be the greatest stage they ever take to and with the heightened chances of the various age groups’ world champion striped jerseys going the way of South African riders, the buzz amongst the local MTB community has risen exponentially in recent weeks.
However, despite the bulk of the mammoth 581 entries coming from local riders (424), the entry has not only caught the attention of local authorities but the International Cycling Union (UCI) as well.
“It is going to be the most amazing event!” exclaimed KZN MTB Chairman, Charles Roberts after the entry process closed recently.
“581 entries is about twice last year’s entry,” added UCI MTB International Commissaire, Joel Obodov.
“These are great numbers!” said UCI Project Coordinator, Andrea Marcellini Mendonça. “It is really good for a Masters World Championships both in participants and nationalities.”
With 157 riders from 29 nations set to join the local competitors in South Africa’s “Bike City” in just a couple of weeks’ time, it would appear the sport’s international body is greatly satisfied with the number, especially given the event will be staged just days before UCI MTB & Trials World Championships and at the same venue for the first time ever.
Hugely rewarding for the organisers is the fact that the event has drawn interest from all ends of the spectrum with men and women, both young and old, and from every continent set to take part in either the cross country or downhill disciplines of the event.
There are even a few brave local souls clearly eager to take full advantage of the opportunity to be a part of the spectacle and hence have entered themselves into both disciplines’ competitions.
“We will have riders coming from all over the world to take part in this great occasion for cycling in Africa and especially South Africa,” said event director, Alec Lenferna.
With South Africa leading the charge as far as number of entries go, the African continent will also be represented by Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
The Phillipines will be the lone Asian representative whilst Australia will fly the flag for Australasia.
Being the cycling hub of the world, few would be surprised that Europe will have the highest number of countries from one continent taking part with Austria, Belguim, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom all see to compete.
North America will be represented by Canada and USA whilst the legacy of the event having been staged in Brazil for the past few years is visible as South America will be represented by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
With the event open to riders over 30 years old and who do not have any UCI points to their name, age categories as far as the 70+ age group are even being considered, showing the diversity and accessibility of the sport.
“Five entries in the +70 for the XCO is very impressive,” said Obodov.
The event will also see six current men’s and three women’s cross country as well as three current men’s downhill world champions return to the event to defend their title whilst every South African national masters champion, barring one, ensured their name was on the entry list as well, setting up a mouth-watering few days of racing in Pietermaritzburg.
With entries for the Masters event closed, the South African public are urged to show their support of their country’s participants in the Masters clash by getting to Cascades MTB Park – entrance is free – or purchasing their ticket and witnessing the best in the world battle it out for top honours in the elite competition.
The UCI MTB & Trials World Championships take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August – 1 September and are preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 – 25 August 2013. Tickets for the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships can be purchased via www.roag.co.za and more information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media