On the heels of their announcement that Australia will play host to a suite of UCI World Cup events and the 2017 World Championship over the next four years, Cycling Australia (CA) today announced that the new look Subaru Australian Mountain Bike Season for 2014.
The season kicks off in Adelaide as a prologue to the Santos Tour Down Under, giving mountain bikers the opportunity to race their bikes amongst Australia’s biggest cycling crowd and only World Tour event. The roadshow then visits a host of Australia’s premier mountain bike venues, established and new. The focus is all about rider experience with friends and families all catered for. CA’s newly appointed Technical Director of Mountain Biking, Tim Sheedy, is vocal about the future of the sport.
“The process CA implemented to select venues reflects the three pillars of CA’s mountain bike program: community engagement, support of local mountain bike organisations and races that serve as destinations for riders and their families.” he says.
The season now includes the much anticipated return of the mighty Real Insurance XCM Series with riders able to choose between the full range of World Championship formats: Cross Country Eliminator, Cross Country Olympic, Downhill and Marathon. This consolidates the strengths of Australian mountain biking at its best: televised races, Olympic prestige, prize money, incredible locations, adventure and the hustle and bustle of downhill and eliminator all culminating with the UCI MTB World Cup in Cairns. “It’s a potent combination when you throw into that mix some of Australia’s most desirable holiday destinations.” Sheedy says.
At its best, mountain biking reflects a sense of adventure and as the peak body of the sport in this country, CA are excited to be bringing new destinations, new experiences and an opportunity for organisational development to mountain biking. There’s been a rigorous planning and consultation process with key stakeholders, venues and course managers to ensure the nucleus is in place. It’s been exciting but the hard work hasn’t come without challenges and some unforseen delay.
“This leaves a legacy for the whole mountain biking community that exists year round.” Sheedy says. “As a peak body, Cycling Australia’s remit is to run great events but also to grow each discipline that it administers. The best way to do this is to introduce Australian riders to new and exciting courses in their own backyards.”
All this within the context of a suite of World Cups and a World Championships that has energised the discipline of mountain biking and brought new focus on all the riders…from the weekend warrior in a flannelette shirt all the way through to the top flight of the sport.
“It feels good to announce the new era in the week of the MTB World Championships, on the eve of what we hope to be one of the most successful Australian campaigns for many years.” Sheedy says, a sentiment echoed by Steve Peterson, the GM of Events at Cycling Australia. “Big things are planned over the next four years with a continuing unification of the sport, more national level events, utilising more partnerships within the mountain biking community and stretching Australia wide. We have worked hard not only to build a bumper 2014 season but to also look beyond, ensuring that we are developing a lasting, sustainable model that sees mountain bike thrive.” Peterson says.