Australian cross country racing is in a state of flux. The national XC series typically draws underwhelming numbers of riders and spectators. We recently announced that the renowned Highland Fling will be flung for a final, thirteenth, time this November. Meanwhile, stage races like Port to Port and Cape to Cape are building from strength to strength. NSW based event promoters Rocky Trail Entertainment, also appear to be onto a good thing. Not satisfied with the status quo, they were one of the first to introduce gravity enduro racing in Australia, adding it to their collection of events covering cross country, marathon and downhill. They even have a women's specific event that will be run for its second time later this year. Rocky Trail is typically focused on catering for the punters by offering distance, duration and team size options, while still attracting many top level racers. Their latest event announcement, while aimed to entertain and inspire the punters, plans to draw the country's top elite level XC racers. Will this be a race platform that helps take Aussie Elite XC to the next level?
Rocky Trail Entertainment will be launching a brand-new event in August. With the Elite Sprint Cup, the event’s promoter is adding another mission to their cross-country portfolio by offering a very specific sprint-race format to a very targeted group of mountain bikers: the Elites.
“We want to find the fastest female and the fastest male rider in a tough, rough and hard battle”, says Race Director Martin Wisata. He explains that the Elite Sprint Cup was created to build up a stage for Australian Elite racers to promote themselves and to give their sponsors exposure to an excited mountain biking audience – the Rocky Trail racers.
“The races will be staged on a weekend in combination with existing Rocky Trail events, which gives the elite level riders maximum exposure to a cycling-loving crowd the day before the big Cup-race”, explains Wisata, his vision of a weekend. “You’ll have one day where amateur and junior racers can rub shoulders at the start line and out on track with some of the best riders in the country and then on the next day see those riders from the top end of the field smash it out among each other in a short-course sprint race, which will be very spectator-friendly”, he adds.
Rocky Trail said that they would like this to become a highly-respected platform where the best riders in Australia – and potentially international guest racers – can measure themselves against each other and talk it up in the cycling industry. Everyone can enter the Elite Sprint Cup and there will be two categories – male and female – racing for a prize money pool with an extra bonus paid out to the fastest U23 male and female rider.
To start off, the inaugural Elite Sprint Cup Championships will be held at Stromlo Forest Park on 27 August 2017, which is on the Sunday after the SHIMANO Mountain Bike Grand Prix Finale. For 2018 the plan is to develop the concept into a series across NSW and the ACT.
For more information, visit www.rockytrailentertainment.com/events/RTEelitesprintcup.html – online registration for participants starts at the end of July.