MTB Masters World Champs Cross Country Course Receives Significant Remodelling

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Pietermaritzburg – The cross country course for the UCI MTB Masters World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg has been given a dramatic facelift after the route was recently made shorter, steeper and more technical.

From its original 10km lap, the format has been compacted to roughly 7km in length, taking in new sections of trail that have been cut through the forests at the base of Town Hill.

The final layout is a compromise between the longer layout and the elite course, explains course designer and Cross Country manager for the event Nick Floros.

“It has made it a lot more like a cross country course than a classic course, with short sharp climbs and more technical descents,” said Floros. “Think of it as one notch down from the elite course, which most people know by now.”

“We have to provide a race of between an hour and fifteen minutes and an hour and a half, so with the new layout I expect this will be three and a half to four laps,” he added.

Floros said the rejigged layout took in more testing climbs, roughly 300m of climbing per lap, or 1200m of climbing over the duration of the race. “So the guys had better prepare for some serious climbing!”

The globally renowned course designer also added that numerous technical sections were being developed for the masters track, but that these had been designed to reward the bolder racers while at the same time s offering more cautious, slower options.

“Every obstacles has an A line, or bull run, and a B, or even a C, line – the chicken run,” said Floros.

“On the first lap, after about 1km there is climb with some single track, so the idea will be to stay clear of the bottleneck that always happens when the speed reduces,” says Floros.

“From there, there is a new climb that goes up through Kim’s Corner, which is part of the elite course all the way up to the top of Rollercoaster or Supertubes.

“Then the course goes into a drop off, which riders need to know about because that will earn you a few positions if done well. Then it’s into Pick Up Sticks, which is another section that we share with the Elite course, which is quite a technical section,” added Floros.

The next lap starts with a section through the feed zone before heading to the first climb. “The climb is pretty terraced – a contour road then a climb that joins up with another contour road, so if a rider is doing three minute intervals in training they should be fine.

“The route then drops into Sharkas Playground where we have a new route for the masters, where you can either roll the camels or jump that section, then into a step down that leads into a short sharp hill into the key section of twin track.

“This section of twin track will be the highlight of the second loop,” said Floros. “Two parallel tracks running about 800 metres, which is the ideal place for some proper racing as they are much-of-a-muchness in terms if distances and slope.”

“To finish off the new section down the bottom is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, lots of dips and turns all fast and flowing and more enjoyable than technical.

Floros suggests that any masters riders with ambitions of doing well in August, spend time on the course getting familiar with it beforehand. “Absolutely no doubt about that! There are a couple of drops that you have to know how they throw you, and there are plenty of places that will count in one or two second increments so it will be critical to spend time on the course.”

“I believe every course has a rhythm, and you have to spend time on it to learn and feel that rhythm of the course. You have to learn where to push and interval and where to recover, and the way to do that is to spend time on the course.”

“It is an advantage for the local guys for sure, so they would be crazy not to take advantage of it!”

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 to 25 August. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za

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Nick Floros, cross country course designer and manager, and his dog, Sharka, on the newly altered UCI MTB Masters World Championships course. The global event takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 21-25 August.
(Dave Macleod/ Gameplan Media)