With the season now well behind us, the UCI are taking their time releasing the 2019 downhill World Cup calendar.
The 2018 calendar was released in January 2017, making this one a good 8 months late already. What's causing the hold up? Speaking to the UCI, it's because Red Bull's contract had to be re-negotiated. The good news is that Red bull are on board for another three years, the bad news is that it means the bidding process was delayed and therefore the release of the dates will also be delayed.
We do have some news though, firstly there will be an extra round in 2019. The downhill World Cup will now be 8 rounds with the World Champs at Mont Sainte Anne on top of that.
Secondly there are going to be three new or returning venues that weren't on the calendar last year. Maribor is heavily rumoured to be one of those and it would be a more than welcome return for the infamous rock garden if nothing else. We also wouldn't be surprised if there's another North American round around the World Champs - Windham or Bromont are probably favourites at this stage but could US Open host Killington be an outside bet?
With 28 venues or organisations bidding on World Cups this year, it seems that interest in bringing the series to new places is at an all-time high. If the format going forwards is 5-6 classics and then a host of new faces each time, that seems pretty good to us. The UCI also told us that they are making a concerted effort to encourage the classic venues to shake up track sections as we saw with the Tarzan in Mont Sainte Anne. It sounds like there's plenty to look forward to next year and beyond.
Provisional 2019 World Cup dates:
Here are the provisional World Cup dates that were announced in April this year. Note, there are only seven dates here so one more will have to be squeezed in somewhere. We've added some speculations as to what we think some venues could be based purely on history and logistics.
Round 1: 27-28th April (A new venue - probably Maribor)
Round 2: 30th May – 2nd June (Likely Fort William)
Round 3: 8-9th June (Likely Leogang)
Round 4: 6-7th July
Round 5: 13-14th July
Round 6: 3th-4th August
Round 7: 7-8th September (Likely a North American round)
World Championships: 31st August – 1st September – Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada.