Construction of the cross-country, downhill and 4X courses for the first round of the 2009 Nissan UCI World Cup has been completed in Pietermartizburg, South Africa.
The world's top mountain bike riders will roll into the city for some fast and furious racing at the season opener on 10-12 April.
Current cross-country world champion Christoph Sauser is expected to be among the first foreign riders to test Pietermartizburg's new 4.7km course later this month. With a total ascent of 180m per lap and three climbs in the first 3km, it promises to be a brutal ride.
Burry Stander, African cross-country champion and under-23 world champs silver medallist, said: “It felt no different to being on any other World Cup cross-country course I’ve raced. It does have a lot of steep climbing and is quite similar to the Beijing Olympic Games course, which most riders rated as the best – and hardest – in 2008.”
Dropping 368m over 2.8km, the downhill course is relatively long. It starts with a quick drop and then heads into a mild sloping section with some jumps and tight turns. The final third is a fast plunge, with the last 500m joining the 4X course into the finish arena. There is no cable car so riders will be shuttled to the start by road.
Current world champion Greg Minnaar, who hails from Pietermartizburg, said: “It’s a fantastic course that’s going to offer a very solid all-round test. There's no time to recover, really, and there are some spectacular drops and jumps that will definitely thrill spectators!”
At 730m long and with a total drop of 120m, the 4X course is the longest and steepest on the World Cup circuit, with 13 corners and 26 obstacles which should prove popular with spectators. Permanent lighting will be installed for the evening finals on 10 April.