MTB World Cup: riders prepare for tourny as eyes of the world turn to pmb

2011-04-22 00:00

THE 2011 UCI Mountainbike World Cup is opening with its first downhill event today at the Pietermaritzburg Cascades course that is abuzz with cyclists, spectators and media personell from all over the world.

The event is expected to attract about 25 000 spectators from today to Easter Sunday, when the World Cup ends.

The tournament organisers say that it has been hard work organising the event that will be beamed to over 15 million people across the world with the help of live broadcasts from, an international online live broadcast website.

According to the media liaison officer for the event, Dave Macleod, there are 480 competitors from 38 countries, and 135 journalists covering the event, which is being hosted in the “City of Choice” for the second time.

Local downhill champion Greg Minnaar (29) said that he has been putting in many hours practising during summer.

He also said that he still needs to learn more about the track before the final on Sunday.

“There is so much pressure since this is a home game.

“But I’m just blocking everything and only focusing on the race,” Minnaar said.

He admits that his biggest competition is his mate Steve Peat from England, Sam Hill from Australia and United Kingdom racer George “Gee” Atherton, who is the 2010 World Cup downhill champion.

Another homeboy, who is originally from Port Shepstone and the UCI Mountain bike under-23 men’s cross-country 2009 world title holder, Burry Stander (23), said he is racing to win.

“I just need good luck and keep focus for Saturday’s race.

“The support from the South African public has been good and it feels great that the tournament is back in the country again.”

Macleod says the 12 hectare Cascades course is one of two in the world that can host all three events — the downhill, cross-country and fourcross courses in the same venue.

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business told The Witness that the event has injected around R2 million into the city’s economy

But Macleod believes the city has more than money to gain from the event.

“Imagine the value that this event will bring to Pietermaritzburg considering the fact that millions of people will be watching the event and the exposure the city will be getting in the world,” he says.

Yesterday, during practice sessions, there were three injuries already.

Two cyclists fells and broke their collar bones, while a Pietermaritzburg junior racer crashed and injured his scapular bone and will not be participating in the competition.

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