May 28/09 19:42 pm - Changes Likely for MTB World Cup
Posted by Editor on 05/28/09
The UCI Mountain Bike Commission held a meeting last weekend at the Madrid World Cup, to discuss the 2010 calendar, and potential rule changes for the future. While none of this is official, these are some of the changes we can expect to be coming down the pipeline:
1. Next year's World Cup will have the same number of events as this year, with 12 events in total, divided into four triples (XC/DH/4X), and four events for each discipline (making a total of eight races for each).
Where it gets interesting is the locations for these events. Mont Ste Anne is hosting the Worlds, so no World Cup there. Bromont would be an obvious choice for a triple the week before as a lead-in, but the UCI has made no secret of its desire to have a World Cup in the U.S., and is looking at a location in New York state (we have heard that it might be Windham). This despite the fact that the U.S. organizers have a history of abruptly dropping sanctions late in the game when sponsorship becomes an issue...
Besides the fact that the UCI desperately wants an event in the U.S. to satisfy sponsors/potential sponsors, part of the problem with Bromont getting a World Cup is that Euro federations have been annoyed for a while that Canada receives two triples. Yes, that's right, politics rears its ugly head.
However, this is not a 'done deal', because the U.S. venue still needs to satisfy the UCI that they have the necessary funds to pull off a triple (which will cost in the neighbourhood of $1 million). A better idea might be to give Bromont the Cross-country and 4-Cross, and Windham the Downhill for their first year. Another option would be to put Bromont before the Worlds and Windham after, but the UCI wants the final races in the series to be in Europe.
So where will we see World Cups next year? Well, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa is likely to be the season opener - but not necessarily a triple because of the problems they had with transfers for the downhill (personally, we think they will get a triple, on the understanding that work will be undertaken to improve the transfer for the Downhill).
Expect Houffalize and Offenburg to be back on the schedule, and Champery for sure, since they have the Worlds in 2011. There has been considerable interest from South America, but the teams are likely to resist this for economic reasons.
2. The women's race in Madrid was under 90 minutes which, technically, is below the minimum required length for a World Cup. However, the UCI waived that requirement, and we can expect more of that in the future, with women's races regularly going below 90 minutes and men's running 1:30 - 1:45.
The reason? Two words: Olympics, Television.
The IOC will be doing a complete review of sports in 2013, after the London Games, with one of the key criteria for future inclusion being television interest, particularly for younger viewers.
Mountain biking needs to get shorter races, courses that are easier to cover on TV (meaning shorter courses) and, likely, courses with more interesting features (dropoffs, etc.). This is no joke: mountain biking (or other cycling disciplines) could be under pressure from such athletic endeavours as ... skateboarding.
Clearly, the Olympics has decided to go the Reality TV route ... Simon Cowell is currently negotiating to take charge of marketing.
3. The UCI is currently looking for title sponsorship for the World Cup. Nissan is in the final year of their agreement and, given the state of the auto industry, is not considered to be likely to renew. The UCI is currently pursuing a number of possibilities, but the current global economic conditions make any sports property a difficult sell. This is really a shame because, given the global reach of mountain biking, it is an extremely attractive proposition.
The UCI says that they will release the 2010 schedule in mid-June, so we will have to wait until then to see how good our 'guesses' were.