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World Champs for SA

Pietermaritzburg will host the Mountain Bike World Championships in 2013, bringing arguably the biggest sporting event yet to the city which successfully hosted the UCI MTB World Cup at the Cascades in April.

Pietermaritzburg was officially awarded the rights to the 2013 by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) this weekend at a meeting that consolidated the city’s status as a major international hub for cycling events. Pietermaritzburg will also host the 2012 MTB World Cup as well as a leg of the BMX Supercross World Cup series next year.

“We are ecstatic at the news,” said event director Alec Lenferna, who has championed the string of top international cycling events that have been staged in the city in recent years. “This will be the biggest cycling event ever to hit South Africa, and the first time Africa has hosted the MTB Worlds.

“It is the second biggest cycling event on the global cycling calendar after the road cycling world champs,” he added. “It is gratifying to see the faith shown in us by the UCI, and it greatly strengthens our position on the cycling world stage,” he added.

“Getting the MTB Worlds in 2013 is an affirmation and confirmation that Pietermaritzburg is a vibrant hub for cycling, and reminds us that we do not need to stand back for anyone when it comes to staging world class events.”

The announcement has been warmly received by the city and the province of KwaZulu-Natal as the economic benefits from the influx of thousands of riders is a supported by the marketing advantage of Pietermaritzburg bathing in the worldwide media spotlight during the event.

Lenferna committed to further improvements to the Cascades MTB Park that successfully staged the MTB World Cup earlier this year, and said while the organisers had received overwhelmingly positive reports from the visitors and UCI for the MTB World Cup, they would not rest on their laurels and would strive to keep improving.

The Cascades MTB Park is one of only three venues worldwide that can play host to all three MTB disciplines at World Cup and World Championship level.

“It is a unique course in many respects,” said Lenferna. “It is a ‘pedally’ course due to the flattish mid-section, which make it challenging and not just a high speed downhill course. But the riders know the course and can prepare accordingly. It is a good time for MTB racing in South Africa, and the news that the World Champs will be coming here will further stimulate interest in the sport.”


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