Record entry for UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg
A new record entry of 447 of the world’s best mountain bikers has entered the RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg this weekend.
Once the registration process closed on Wednesday the final tally of male and female riders across the senior, Under 23 and junior age groups for the cross country and downhill was the biggest ever received since Pietermaritzburg started hosting UCI MTB World Cups in 2009.
In all 32 nations are represented, with the majority of them using the event as the first Olympic qualification decider for the national cross country representatives.
“It’s the biggest entry we have received,” said event director Alec Lenferna. “But what is pleasing is the increasing numbers in the junior and Under 23 categories, which is a positive sign for the sport. We understand it is not cheap to send large teams to South Africa for an event like this so to see so many teams and nations sending their top juniors and under 23 riders is very encouraging.”
In the field of 117 elite male cross country riders are 21 national champions, alongside world champ Jaroslav Kulhavy, while in the women’s cross country field new world champ Catharine Pendrel will ride with the number two plate, with top ranked French rider Julie Bresset riding with the coveted number one plate, alongside seventeen other national champions.
A massive field of 134 riders has entered the men’s downhill competition, including defending champ Aaron Gwin and world champ Danny Hart, and in the women’s elite downhill entry world champ Emmeline Ragot heads the entry of 19 riders.
The cross country riders grabbed the unexpected opportunity to practice on the 5,5km Cascades layout on Wednesday, when the organisers departed from the traditional format barring practice on the course, particularly after an unusual cloudburst shortly after dawn left the course wet.
However the recent efforts to top-dress the cross country course with decomposed granite on all the climbs was tested by the practice session and emerged with unanimous approval, as the course raced well despite the rains.
The session saw several riders ferried to the medics after suffering major falls, including Specialized Racing team rider Todd Wells, currently ranked fifteenth in the world, Fortunately fears of a possible broken leg proved to be unfounded and he was able to walk away from his session with the medical team on-site.
SUMMARY OF ENTRY
ROCKYROADS UCI MTB WORLD CUP
Category Entries Nations
XCO Men Elite 117 25
XCO Women Elite 73 20
XCO Men Under 23 52 12
XCO Women Under 23 17 10
XCO Men Juniors 28 13
XCO Women Juniors 7 1
DHI Men 134 19
DHI Women 19 11
Overall 447 32
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 www.mtbworldcupsa.co.za