All set for thrilling MTB final

2011-04-20 00:00

THE organisers are expecting more than 25 000 spectators in the three-day 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Cascades, Pietermaritzburg, this Easter weekend.

Says the media liaison officer for the event, Dave Macleod,“Friday’s four-cross should attract 5 000 people, Saturday’s cross-country about 6 000 and the thrilling downhill finals on Sunday might have 15 000 people cheering the riders on.”

Pietermaritzburg is hosting its second Mountain Bike World Cup event, after a successful tournament in 2009 — with sold-out tickets on the last day.

Macleod says that much was learnt from the past event and much improvement has been made to the 12-hectare land track.

“The track has been lengthened by 200 metres at the top to make it a better facility for the teams and event staff,” he explains.

With last week’s downpour spoiling to the first leg of the CSA MTB, the organisers are hoping for a race that is “much drier, with just occasional drizzle”.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma says that while the municipality is sorting out issues of potholes and waste, residents should enjoy the event.

“An impression is created through the media of doom and gloom. The MTB World Cup that’s coming up just after we have had the BMX World Supercross and the fact that we are still going to host it for the next couple of years is testimony to the fact that we are a world-class city, capable of hosting world-class events,” Zuma says.

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business chief executive officer, Melanie Veness, explains how the city will benefit from the race that has 38 countries represented and visitors from across the globe: “Visitors will spend on accommodation, at tourism facilities and in restaurants and shops, giving the tourism sector a welcome boost.”

Veness says the event organisers have already added about R2 million directly into the city’s economy by procuring local goods and services for the event, which is great for business.

Macleod adds, “It is also hugely important to show capacity to organise top-level cycling events to support any possible Olympic Games bid from the region.”

The Swiss Flückiger brothers who raced this weekend and Jaroslav Kulhavy from the Czech Republic are already in Pietermaritzburg, as is world number two Gee Atherton of Great Britain. For the women’s downhill race, eight of the world’s top 10 are here.

Coffee bars and shops at the Cascades shopping centre ware expecting to do a roaring trade

Local organiser of the race Max Cluer says, “Everything is on schedule and we are expecting a much bigger and more exciting race than the one we hosted in 2009.”


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