Commonweath Games spin-offs for PMB

2015-09-24 06:00

DURBAN’s successful bid for the 2022 ­Commonwealth Games will also benefit ­Pietermaritzburg, with the city earmarked to host the cross-country mountain bike events at the Cascades MTB Park. It will likely also be home to the track cycling competition. Mayor Chris Ndlela on Wednesday said in a statement that PMB is known as the “Bike City in Africa” after hosting 11 World Cup and World Championship events in BMX and cross-country since 2009, and the city is becoming the venue of choice for the cross-country events was not surprising.

He said the Cascades facility is rated in the top five mountain biking venues in the world, and impressed the Commonwealth teams.

Alec Lenferna, the organiser of Pietermaritzburg’s many successful UCI events, commented: “We didn’t envisage Durban getting the Commonwealth Games when we started the ‘Bike City’ project and the mountain bike facility at Cascades, but by virtue of the fact that Maritzburg is the Bike City, and by virtue of the fact that we have constructed a world-class facility at Cascades, those things have helped with the bid and planning, and have created the legacy project that was always going to be part of the plan.

“I think it is testimony to the fact that when we talk about the development of sport, it isn’t just about kids on bikes. It is about these sorts of things too. It is a development project that is bearing huge fruit ...”

Further improvements were needed at the MTB Park, Lenferna said.

Cascades cross-country course designer Nick Floros said the addition of permanent toilets, showers, maybe a clubhouse and a booth, would cement the venue’s status as one of the best in the world. Ndlela said PMB will benefit from the Games’ media coverage, and from the influx of visitors to the city.

“Judging by the last MTB World champs in 2013, where 45 countries participated with over 1 900 participants and more than 1 000 support staff and international visitors, the Commonwealth Games will far supersede these numbers. The 2013 event brought in R46 million in direct spend in the city. So the city must pull out all the stops in capitalising on the media exposure and international and domestic visitors who will attend the games.”

It is now a near certainty that a multi-sport complex, including an indoor velodrome, will be constructed at the proposed Technology Hub in the airport precinct for the games’ track cycling events. The city held discussions with the UCI, African and SA Cycling Federations in August about it.

“These discussions will ­escalate now that confirmation of the games has been made,” Ndlela said.

“The velodrome will be of an international standard for World Cup and World ­Championship events, and is likely to become a World Cycling Centre. The more we have things like this [the building of a velodrome], the more Maritzburg is going to be recognised,” Floros said. “Bike City’ is not just a name that has been attached to the city.”

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