South Africa is looking for a way back into the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup following its ommission from the 2010 calendar that was announced last week.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) was forced to reduce the size of next year’s competition after title sponsor Nissan withdrew their support due to the "current global economic situation."
That means no rounds will be staged in the relatively far-flung locations of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa or Canberra, Australia. Instead, these are being replaced by rounds in Dalby Forest, UK and Windham, USA. The latter will be a week before the world championships in Mont Sainte-Anne, Canada.
Alec Lenferna, director of the South African world cup venue has expressed his shock at Pietermaritzburg being cut from the 2010 schedule. He said: “It’s a huge blow for mountain biking in particular and cycling in general, not only in South Africa, but in Africa.
“This continent has been the missing piece in the World Cup puzzle for almost two decades and after only one chance, it gets unilaterally removed with not even an option for us to find a local sponsor to keep it on the schedule.”
South African Greg Minnaar won the first round of the mountain bike world cup this year in Pietermaritzburg. On the mountain bike scene in South Africa, Minnaar said in a recent interview: “We don’t have the numbers you get in the UK but hopefully some day we will – it’s growing all the time. With the World Cup coming to South Africa it may well boost the downhill scene.”
In a last-ditch attempt to keep the South African World Cup stage in 2010, Cycling South Africa are currently trying to secure funding, hoping that the UCI will alter the schedule.
“A lot of work went into securing the rights to host a World Cup here. I’m making sure we do everything in our power to try and save it,” said Laferna.