Hey hey – The Fort William World Cup event starts tomorrow. This is just one of 7 events taking place in Europe, Canada and USA, from April to September.
With 2 very full days of competition, this is the place where all of the DH and 4X World Cup winners are decided.
The Downhill is a “full-on, flat-out, no-compromise charge down the face of Aonach Mor, the 9th highest mountain in the UK. Riders need physical strength, quick reflexes, superb bike control and an unerring eye for the right line as they speed down the 2.8km long course. And a lot of bottle!” .
Each year the Scottish course is modified. They have just completed extensive changes for the 2011 course with “a new start hut and altered line into the first hip jump, which will add speed and improve the spectacle for spectators in the Gondola top station. The tight jink over the bridge to the sandy corner is being bypassed with a direct line and jump over the burn. There is a major new jump over the intake road with much improved spectator visability and a pedestrian tunnel underneath the course is being created at the puggy line, which will give another new jump and a better launch pad to the lower motorway section.”
The course is one of the longest and toughest on the circuit with a 555m descent, 2.8 kms in length, over a rock strewn, bike-smashing dirt trail. It’s rider against the clock – and the mountain. The current course record is 4 minutes 43 seconds.
The whole course lies in a stunning location with fine views of Ben Nevis, the sea lochs of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, and the islands of the Inner Hebrides.
The 4x format, in contrast, will be a “gladiatorial in character and incredibly exciting to watch. Four riders start together and battle down a custom built course of berms, jumps, step-ups and other testing features”, each rider searching for the winning line . “The two fastest proceed to the next round, knock-out style, until the ultimate winner is crowned.”
About 300 world class performers from 25 nations are expected. With mountain biking’s top performers in one arena for one whole weekend, it promises to be spectacular viewing for spectators, with each rider battling for World Cup points. It might be that the Olympics and the World Championships medals are the best recognised titles in mountain biking, but they are both one-off competitions, whereas the World Cup overall title is the best reflection of performance over a range of different courses through the season. The Championship is therefore a true representation of the year’s finest all-round performer.
Please go directly to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup site for the weekend schedule.
Good luck everyone.