The International Cycling Union (UCI) has confirmed that Red Bull will provide live streaming of all this year's Mountain Bike World Cup races, taking over the role formerly filled by Freecaster.tv.
The energy drink giant is the official media partner of the 2012 series, or to give it its full title, the RockyRoads UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano, which kicks off next weekend (17-18 March) in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
In a press release issued today, the UCI said: "Under this new partnership, Red Bull Media House GmbH (RBMH) will provide media services including HD TV production, webcasting and content syndication. Live streaming of all the World Cup cross-country, cross-country eliminator and downhill races will be featured on www.redbull.com/bike and www.redbull.tv.
"The UCI and RBMH will collaborate closely to ensure that coverage of these events will be more dynamic, innovative and viewer-friendly, providing fans with unforgettable images of racing action. RBMH will produce the official international live signal as well as highlight programmes that the UCI will provide to TV channels on all continents. Overall TV production will be improved with high definition images and an increased number of cameras at events.
"RBMH, which replaces Freecaster.tv as exclusive live streaming partner, will also hold worldwide non-exclusive internet rights to the UCI BMX World Championships as well as selected media rights in certain territories for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships."
Freecaster's coverage of the World Cups and World Champs proved extremely popular after it was launched in 2008, attracting millions of viewers, especially after early attempts at a pay-per-view system were scrapped (except for the World Champs).
The passionate and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny commentary of ex-downhiller Rob 'Look at the time' Warner played a large part in this success. He's worked with Red Bull on the X Fighters freestyle motocross series so his return to the microphone for the 2012 World Cup was always on the cards, and now he's confirmed it on Twitter.
"Sorry, couldn't say before but I'm really pleased to say I'm lucky enough to be commentating on the World Cup again! BA BOOM!," Warner Tweeted earlier today, adding that both the World Cups and World Champs would be free to view.