BikeRadar's guide to gravity racing in 2012

What's going on with downhill and four-cross

The gravity racing side of the international mountain biking calendar used to be simple to understand – there was a multi-round World Cup series and one-off World Championships event, both organised by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and combining both downhill and four-cross racing.

In addition, there were various smaller continental series (eg. iXS Downhill Cup and Schwalbe Euro 4X Series in Europe, Pro GRT in US) and standalone races tied to high-profile events (Crankworx, Sea Otter Classic).

There are going to be big changes for 2012, with the arrival of a new international downhill series called DH1, the loss of four-cross racing from the World Cup and the planned setting up of a new 4X World Series. Gravity enduro racing is also gaining ground and there's talk of it soon gaining UCI acceptance. Here's a quick rundown of what we know so far.

UCI World Cup & World Championships

The UCI World Cup downhill series will continue as usual in 2012, with seven races on three continents. It'll kick off in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa once again and return to classic venues including Fort William in Scotland and Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada. The final round is at a new venue, Hafjell, Norway. There will no longer be any four-cross rounds (more on this below), but four-cross racing will make a return at the World Championships in Leogang, Austria.

UCI World Cup

  • 17-18 March: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • 2-3 June: Val di Sole, Italy
  • 9-10 June: Fort William, Scotland
  • 23-24 June: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
  • 30-1 July: Windham, USA
  • 28-29 July: Val dʼIsère, France
  • 15-16 September: Hafjell, Norway

UCI World Championships

  • 31 August - 2 September: Leogang, Austria

DH1

The new pretender to the throne is the DH1 series, organised by Freecaster, the people responsible for some awesome video coverage of the past couple of World Cup seasons. It'll consist of six races (three in Europe and three in America) with much bigger big prize pots than those offered by the UCI  – €11,025 for the winner of each race and €23,228 for the overall champion. Dates were announced yesterday but most of the venues still have to be confirmed.

The idea is that 150+ entrants will be whittled down to just 60 finalists by the end of qualifiying – 30 of whom will take part in the 'small final' and 30 in the 'pro final'. The 20 top riders will be 'protected' and guaranteed a place in the 'pro final', so a puncture in qualifying won't mean the end of their day. Because fewer racers will take part in the final than at World Cups, runs will be televised in full.

The rounds have been designed to fit around the World Cup calendar. There are a couple of clashes with the European iXS Downhill Cup series but on these dates the DH1 series will head to America. Teams already signed up include the Santa Cruz Syndicate and CG Racing Brigade.

DH1

  • 12-13 May: Maribor, Slovenia
  • 19-10 May: TBA
  • 16-17 June: TBA (clashes with iXS round 3 in Fort William, Scotland)
  • 11-12 July: TBA
  • 4-5 August: TBA (clashes with iXS round 4 in Pila, Italy)
  • 18-19 August: TBA

Four-cross

Things are still a bit up-in-the-air at the moment with four-cross. The rider-run Fourcross Alliance have announced plans to create a new 4X World Series for 2012 and beyond but no dates or venues have yet been announced. It's not clear whether this new series will replace the Schwalbe Euro 4X Series or run alongside it. Watch this space.

Gravity Enduro

Gravity enduro series like the long-running Avalanche Cup and the UK's new SixSixOne Gravity Enduro Series are proving increasingly popular and the UCI intend to add this style of racing to their calendar from 2013. There's no worldwide series for 2012 though.

Other major events

iXS Downhill Cup (now the UCI's official European series)

  • f28-19 April: Monte Tamaro, Switzerland
  • 26-27 May: Leogang, Austria
  • 16-17 June: Innerleithen, Scotland (clashes with DH1 round 3)
  • 4-5 August: Pila, Italy (clashes with DH1 round 5)
  • 11-12 August: Špičák, Czech Republic
  • 8-9 September: Châtel, France
  • 22-23 September: Todtnau, Germany

US Grand Prix of Mountain Biking (formerly Pro GRT)

  • Dates & venues TBC

Sea Otter Classic

  • 19-22 April

Megavalanche, Alpe d'Huez

  • 16-22 July

Kokanee Crankworx Whistler

  • 10-19 August

International gravity racing calendar 2012

  • 17-18 March: UCI World Cup 1, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • 28-19 April: iXS Downhill Cup 1, Monte Tamaro, Switzerland
  • 19-22 April: Sea Otter Classic
  • 12-13 May: DH1 1, Maribor, Slovenia
  • 19-10 May: DH1 2, TBA
  • 26-27 May: iXS Downhill Cup 2, Leogang, Austria
  • 2-3 June: UCI World Cup 2, Val di Sole, Italy
  • 9-10 June: UCI World Cup 3, Fort William, Scotland
  • 16-17 June: DH1 3, TBA
  • 16-17 June: iXS Downhill Cup 3, Innerleithen, Scotland
  • 23-24 June: UCI World Cup 4, Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
  • 30-1 July: UCI World Cup 5, Windham, USA
  • 11-12 July: DH1 4, TBA
  • 16-22 July: Megavalanche, Alpe d'Huez
  • 28-29 July: UCI World Cup 6, Val dʼIsère, France
  • 4-5 August: DH1 5, TBA
  • 4-5 August: iXS Downhill Cup 4, Pila, Italy
  • 10-19 August: Kokanee Crankworx Whistler
  • 11-12 August: iXS Downhill Cup 5, Špičák, Czech Republic
  • 18-19 August: DH1 6, TBA
  • 31 August - 2 September: UCI World Championships, Leogang, Austria
  • 8-9 September: iXS Downhill Cup 6, Châtel, France
  • 15-16 September: UCI World Cup 7, Hafjell, Norway
  • 22-23 September: iXS Downhill Cup 7, Todtnau, Germany

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