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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Finally the UCI has released the coming season’s mountain-bike World Cup schedule, but they still have some work to do.
In a press release sent out Monday, competitive cycling’s world governing body revealed that Fort William, Scotland and Telluride, Colorado will serve as replacement sites for the cancelled events in Leysin, Switzerland and Arai, Japan. Only problem is that the release says that both events will be downhill-mountain cross only, leaving the series one race short on the cross-country side with just five.
The Fort William event will take place on June 1-2, the dates originally occupied by Leysin. Racers will head to Telluride for the weekend of July 13-14, the dates first given to Arai.
According to Telluride event organizer Rick Sutton, the reason his venue wasn’t given “triple” status is that when the original World Cup calendar was released last fall, many European venues went ahead and scheduled cross-country events for the weekend of Arai because the World Cup series was only holding a downhill-mountain cross.
“Now they don’t want to step on all those people’s toes,” Sutton said.
As to where the sixth cross-country might end up, Sutton could only guess.
“(The UCI) indicated that they’re looking to do something in Europe on the weekend of the Fort William event, but I’m not sure where,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they end up calling me back and ask me to do a cross-country in Telluride after all.”
Either way there will be cross-country racing in Telluride that weekend, and Sutton says his race will offer comparable prize money to a World Cup event.
“I think with the Grouse Mountain World Cup being the weekend before, we’ll still end up getting a large turnout of pros in Telluride,” he said.
The naming of Telluride as a replacement site marks a change in the UCI’s approach to choosing venues. The World Cup will be just one of many activities — amateur and professional — going on that week as part of the Telluride 360-Degree Adventure Festival. In addition to mountain biking, there will also be adventure racing, rock climbing and fly fishing competitions. In the past the UCI has insisted on occupying the entire spotlight.
“I think this is a huge step in the right direction for the sport,” Sutton said. “This will be a good testing ground for how events can be combined to make them more attractive to sponsors and fans.”
Here’s the World Cup schedule as it stands now.
May 18-19, XC No. 1, Madrid, Spain
May 25-26, XC No. 2, Houffalize, Belgium
June 1-2, DH/4-X No. 1, Fort William, Scotland
June 8-9, DH/4-X No. 2, Maribor, Slovenia
June 29-30, XC/DH/4-X No. 3, Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec
July 6-7, XC/DH/4-X No. 4, Grouse Mountain, British Columbia
July 13-14, DH/4-X No. 5, Telluride, Colorado
September 7-8, XC No. 5, DH/4-X No. 6, Les Gets, France