2013 UCI 4X World Champs at Leogang
Official news coming through the internet pipes is that the 4X World Champs will be held at the World Cup finals in Leogang, rather than at the World Champs in South Africa.
Good news and bad news I think. 4X has a very strong European base. Leogang may attract a larger number of racers and fans. An expensive long haul flight to South Africa could deter 4X racers if financial help isn't forthcoming from their National Federation or team. Better to have a well attended event. But it's a shame that the UCI are favouring the XC Eliminator event over the 4X format.
The UCI have also announced the 2014 World Champs will be held in Hafjell/Lillehammer in Norway. Will the Norwegians include a 4X programme? Or is this the time for 4X to cut ties completely with the UCI and run their own Worlds?
What do you think?
UCI Off-Road Manager Mr Peter Van den Abeele explains the decision:
“The extra expenses for the organiser of building a four-cross track, together with the very tight competition schedule since the introduction of the eliminator racing, are the main reasons behind this separation," explains Van den Abeele. “In addition, Africa does not have a tradition of four-cross and we would definitely have seen a lower than usual participation if we had left the world championships for this format in Pietermaritzburg."
Van den Abeele said that Leogang, hosts of the 2012 Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships, was a logical replacement venue:
“The fact that the worlds will return to Leogang, where there is a real four-cross vibe, could give a real boost to this format. During last year’s World Championships, the four-cross racing was spectacular and greatly appreciated by the riders, spectators and media.
“We are extremely fortunate to have two excellent organisers, Pietermaritzburg and Leogang, for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships,"
4X rider Scott Beaumont comments:
Whilst the decision to have a separate 4X World Championships for 2013 is a surprise, we somewhat understand the reasons why this decision has been made. The organisers in South Africa, I think it's fair to say, are not the biggest supporters of 4X, whilst the organisers in Leogang, we know are going to put on a truly awesome World Championships.
There is some truth that federations would have possibly taken fewer 4X riders to South Africa due to the expense, however I think we need to balance this out by also noting that there will be less downhill and XC riders in South Africa than there were in Leogang 2012.
I think the South African organisers have focused far too much on rider numbers and not considered the extra Worldwide media coverage that the 4X race would have given them. Internet coverage that would have been provided by Red Bull Media House and the extra TV coverage on Eurosport and other TV stations around the world. This coverage would have provided them with much needed extra promotion for Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and all the sponsors that will be involved in their World Championships.
Having said that, their loss is clearly Leogang's gain. After hosting the World Championships in 2012 for 4X, they understand just how much publicity 4X provides Leogang around the world, how action packed 4X racing is and ultimately they understand just how many 4X fans there are around the world. When the opportunity to host the 4X World Championships became apparent, there was no hesitation to bid for the event.
So much so, that Leogang will also be hosting the 4X ProTour finals in 2013 as well. Leogang really get it. It is a bikepark and they know just how vital 4X is to offering a complete bikepark and to the daily economy.
Our hope now is that the organisers in Hafjell look at the example Leogang have set. When the doubt was raised by South Africa, Leogang were straight in there with a bid to host the World Championships. We hope that Hafjell will see 4X as a great addition to their bikepark and something that is sustainable and in demand after the World Championships in 2014.
It is understandable that the UCI are pushing XC Eliminator at the moment to get another MTB race in the Olympics. This addition of another discipline has clearly crowded the schedule at World Championships. However the legacy of Eliminator is non-existent after a World Championships. You will not see any riders travelling to Leogang to ride the Eliminator course after the World Championships in 2012 and in 2013 again we can guarantee that Eliminator is not influencing any legacy.
With 4X there is complete legacy. A chairlift is not required and the track is useable year round. 4X tracks can be ridden on any mountain bike from hartail to xc to dh bikes. We hope the Norwegian organisers acknowledge this and the World Championships will be complete again once more in 2014.
Of course, myself and Chris Roberts will be in contact soon with Hafjell organisers to work with them and provide any help and contacts that we can to ensure that they host the 4X World Championships in 2014. After watching the downhill World Cup there last year, we think their trail builders could build something special and provide the riders in Norway a new 4X venue that can be used for coaching, National Championships and hopefully a 4X ProTour round in the future.
For 2013 the 4X World Championships will be in Leogang, and with the quality of the track and exceptional organisation, we know it is going to be an amazing Championship race for the rainbow jersey.
From all 4X riders, teams and fans all around the World, thank you to Leogang. We can't wait for the gate to drop for the 2013 4X World Championships.
The UCI Management Committee also awarded the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships to Hafjell and Lillehammer.The Norwegian ski resort of Hafjell hosted its first World Cup event, the final of the downhill competition, in 2012 and this will be the first time that Norway hosts the World Championships. The racing will be split between Hafjell and nearby Lillehammer.