Bold changes to the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg for the UCI MTB World Cup presented by Shimano have been completed and have made the cross-country and downhill venue significantly more spectator friendly.
As the infrastructure for the season-opening event on the UCI MTB World Cup series, which takes place from 11 -13 April, starts to spring up around the site at the bottom of Town Hill, eager MTB fans are enthusing about the new layout of the cross-country course that will give fans far greater sight of their heroes from the bottom of the course.
Cross-country course designer Nick Floros has made significant changes to the popular course that hosted the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships last year, partly to provide a new test for the elite riders, but also to make it more visible and accessible for spectators.
He is particularly excited about the closing stages of the lap which will see the riders descend on the exciting Corkscrew section before a short tough ascent that sets them up for the technically challenging descent through the log-drops at Over The Top, both visible to spectators from a single point at the bottom of the course.
Both descents converge in a natural bowl at the bottom of the course, providing an ideal vantage point for fans eager to watch the four cross-country (XCO) races develop on Sunday, 13 April.
Event director Alec Lenferna said the revamped XCO course created several nodes of interest where fans can see their heroes in action and then follow the race on the big screens erected on the course.
While some MTB fans choose to climb up the hillside to plumb vantage points such as the Treehouse rock garden, many opt for vantage points closer to the bottom of the course where sections such as the start/finish straight, Rapid Rocks rock garden and Buck Jump Alley can easily be seen from the same location.
The new spectator bowl, which is located right at the entrance to the Cascades MTB Park will offer shaded vantage points to the Corkscrew and Over The Top obstacles and will also be serviced by a big screen television that will carry live coverage of the races.
“The compacting of the cross-country course has been designed with the fans experience in mind, and will create nodes of real atmosphere at the course,” said Lenferna.
Floros was delighted at the impact of the changes he has made to the course.
“Ultimately we are here to separate the top riders in the world, but I feel that the new layout will lend itself to really close, competitive and exciting racing.
“I think the fans will really enjoy the changes because they can basically watch the whole race develop from one point.
“With the close racing that we are expecting the new section at the end of the lap will allow fans to see their heroes twice in five minutes on every lap, and I’m sure will be very popular.
“I think this will be the best spectator spot, so the serious fans will want to get there early to book their places,” he added.
Lenferna said that the venue will have numerous food and beverage outlets that will offer fans a wide variety of options on the competition days.
More information can be found at www.mtbworldcupsa.co.za