A Chance For Glory | UCI Masters MTB World Champs is headed for Cairns

This May is going to be an INSANE time in Cairns. Obviously, Crankworx is back and doubling as the Oceania DH Champs, but the week before, Smithfield is also hosting the Master’s World Champs — the first of a two year stint in Tropical North Queensland.

Yes, this is the chance for you to relive your glory days and fight for a rainbow jersey at the same venue where Nino Schurter, Loic Bruni, Jolanda Neff and Miranda Miller earned a fancy multi-colour jumper, along with Thomas Frischknecht (after Jérôme Chiotti was popped for EPO) Nicolas Vouilloz, Alison Sydor and Anne-Caroline Chausson earned their rainbow bands.

Set to run May 16-19, riders from representing ten countries have already signed up. Local legends like Michael Ronning, Mal Dalton, and Miles Davis will be donning a number plate. AusCycling Mountain Bike Events Operation Manager Ian Harwood says USA’s Lee McCormack is signed up for the DH, and Spain’s Tomi Misser is signed up for both XC and Downhill.


The World Champs are once again headed for Cairns, but this time it’s for Masters riders.

Who can enter the UCI Masters MTB World Champs?

Just like US Presidents, you must be at least 35 years old to compete in the Master’s World Champs, with the age categories split into five-year increments.

But this isn’t just for those spry chickens on the edges of middle age. Harwood tells us there is one rider in the 80-84 XC, and three in the 70-74 year old downhill — what legends!

Worlds Downhill in all of its glory

Cairns has had a difficult wet season, and Smithfield has received quite a beat down. The Cairns Mountain Bike Club and local trail-building outfits have been hard at work getting the network back up and running where needed.

“After the flooding events, there was significant damage to the shuttle road, but the actual (Worlds Downhill) course itself was fine. Glen Jacobs and Ryan De La Rue and those boys hike a biked up the shuttle road to get up there over these landslides and down trees and whatnot. But then they could do a top-to-bottom run of the Downhill,” Harwood tells Flow.

Following the exact alignment as it always has, it will no doubt offer some nostalgia for the select riders who have raced Worlds here in their younger days. That said, they are giving it a bit of a freshen-up — it is going to be hit pretty hard over the space of a fortnight — and, being a Masters event, will be reinstating some of the B-Lines.

The main event takes place on Saturday, with seeding through midday and finals in the afternoon.

For training and seeding, riders will be split into A and B groups so that everyone isn’t all trying to get on the bus at once. Harwood also notes that riders planning to race both disciplines will be put in practice slots that allow them to take advantage of time on both courses.

Masters World Champs isn’t Harwood’s first rodeo he was also on the event team when the UCI rolled into Cairns last time around.

Classic Cairns course for XC

The XC course is also getting a bit of a touch-up and will be reminiscent of the 2017 Worlds Course. Harwood tells us they will hit the quintessential Cairns elements that remain in the network.

“The main difference is that first initial climb up Cadel’s which takes you up to the water tank. In the 2017 Worlds course, there was another pinchy climb that takes you up along the ridge where you can see the eastern seaboard and the islands — we’ve taken that bit out,” says Harwood.

This is your chance to be like Nino!

From the water tank, the course drops back down to Centipede — where Jacob’s Ladder used to be, which has now been taken over by slopestyle — and back towards the village.

“Then you’ll do a section which wasn’t part of the ‘17 course, but it was in the 2014 World Cup and ’96 World Champs, with some of the fingers — the Wobbegong fingers that go back up the hill after crossing underneath the downhill,” says Harwood.

The course then heads for a loop of Greenfields and back to the traditional start finish.

According to Harwood, there are lots of previous Masters World Champs coming in from Europe and South America, particularly on the XC side. They’re not exceptionally well-known riders but have come to defend their title and will likely have some firepower to boot.

The atmosphere

While there is going to be some great racing on tap, the spectating is going to be top-notch too.

While the crux of the weekend is of course the racing, it will be great spectating as you will be able to see riders you grew up watching putting on a masterclass in their craft.

Masters World Champs will also have a full gear expo, with some of the exhibitors setting up shop for both this event and Crankworx.

“We’ve also got a few groups like NS Dynamics that are coming up just for the masses as a (suspension) service technician,” Harwood says. “There will be merch being sold, bar and food outlets and a bunch of other things happening,” he says

How do you enter the UCI Masters MTB World Champs?

This is your chance for glory! Just picture it, standing on the podium with a rainbow-striped jumper — a real one, not that cheapo you bought on eBay. Entries are open now over on the UCI MTB Masters Worlds site, and will close the week of the event.

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