Brendan Fairclough has called for a more streamlined World Cup series with the field to be cut to thirty riders who would compete across twice as many events.
Fairclough believes this would allow the UCI to use steeper, gnarlier, more technical courses that would create a better race for spectators. It could also open up further opportunity for sponsors to get involved as top riders are guaranteed airtime on Red Bull.
As it stands 80 elite male riders take to the track in finals but many more ride the track across the weekend. Lenzerheide was the busiest track of the year with 288 racers in attendance across all three categories.
This is an idea that has been doing the rounds for a while with team managers involved too. The UCI made some concessions at the end of last year, as it increased the number of UCI points needed to enter a World Cup from 20 to 30, but it’s still a long way from Fairclough’s vision.
It’s an idea that comes with pitfalls though. If we were to take the current top 30 in the standings, we’d miss out on the likes of Sam Hill, Steve Peat and Eddie Masters in the next race. We can also imagine a closed shop situation where the next generation of talent is forgotten about in search of the sponsorship dollar.
On top of this, Fairclough believes racers could easily handle 12-14 World Cups without “burning out”. He said: “In terms of locations I’d really like to see a lot more North American rounds. As I feel that we really utilize the landscape of Europe with the five or six rounds we have here. Especially with the US having the biggest mountain bike scene and it only hosting one event in Quebec, Canada. There are so many gnarly locations that can host events.”
While we’re all in favour of an extended World Cup schedule, it would be a lot more expensive for the teams and could mean top riders are drawn away from regional events such as the British Downhill Series or Crankworx.
In short, it’s a big topic. While we don’t think the UCI will be implementing these changes anytime soon but it does make for an interesting vision of the World Cup circuit – more similar to something like Formula One or the Surf World Tour. Let us know what you think on social media.