A series devoted to the hugely exciting new format of mountain bike cross-country racing is about to kick off with the first ever UCI E-Mountain Bike Cross-country World Cup. This inaugural series comprising five rounds in 2020, starts in Monaco on 6-7 March.
High-level riders will pit their experience and skill against up-coming young riders in a multi-faceted test that will be played out over seven months, finishing in Barcelona, Spain on 2-3 October.
The concept of electrically-assisted bicycles isn’t exactly new, and the format to deliver the best sporting spectacle has been in development in recent seasons. This has resulted in a cross-country (XC) race devised to best combine two energy sources: leg power and an electric motor that offers assistance while the rider turns the pedals. The blend of skill, strength, and strategy required to get the best from that combination promises no end of excitement.
UCI E-Mountain Bike Cross-country World Cup is the result of a partnership between the UCI and World E-Bike Series Management (WES), organisers of the World E-bike Series. In 2019, this series of four UCI-sanctioned events included two race formats: Cross-country and Enduro: It’s the XC element that joins the World Cup format for 2020.
Four of the five venues for 2020 are confirmed, taking the action right across Europe, visiting some hotbeds of traditional cross-country Olympic (XCO) and some areas where the growing sport of electrically- assisted mountain biking has been gathering most traction.
Each race is between 15km and 30km, with riders completing multiple laps of a circuit of 2km to 4km. Total climbing and descent is between 1000m and 1400m. There is a mass start, with a maximum of 50 riders who are gridded, fastest to slowest, according to their times over a single-lap qualification time trial. At each round, points are awarded to the top 25 riders, with 90 points going to the winner down to 1 point for position 25. Points are tallied up across the series.
The bikes are essentially the same as those used in the 2019 UCI E-MTB World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, and throughout the WES. The teams who competed in the first year of WES across XC and Enduro can be seen here: https://www.worldebikeseries.com/teams/
Several different bike brands exists, as well as a range of suppliers of motors, drivetrain and control systems. The challenges they face when it comes to performance, efficiency and reliability of both the components and the powerplant elements of the bikes used in the World Cup will continue to play an important part in the development of E-bikes for leisure and transportation, beyond the sport itself.
Elements such as frame design and wheel size are up to the riders and their teams, as is suspension type and travel, to be selected and set up according to the demands of each circuit. To ensure fair racing, all must adhere to strict and straightforward regulations including a motor with maximum continuous power of 250 watts, engine assistance up to 25km/h, and pedalling assistance only – i.e. no throttle-type systems permitted. Only one battery is allowed per bike per race, so the limited overall amount of assistance needs to be carefully managed throughout the race. Pit stops are permitted for regular mechanical issues.
There are some extremely talented, very high profile riders preparing for the UCI E-Mountain Bike Cross-country World Cup, racing shoulder-to-shoulder with younger, less experienced racers – the balance between strength and guile will be fascinating throughout the year.
The better-known names include the 2019 WES XC Champion, Marco Aurelio Fontana. Highly decorated in Olympic distance cross-country, including multiple Italian national champion, World Championships bronze medallist (Norway, 2014) and Olympic medallist (London 2012), the 35-year-old is one of the most charismatic characters in cross-country racing and leads the way in the transition to E-MTB.
Marco shares some of his excitement about the forthcoming competition in the latest edition of his ‘Posh Privateer’ Vlog.
And racing in the women’s competition, E-MTB UCI World Champion Nathalie Schneitter sums up the feeling incredibly well with her all-capital-letters social media post:
“THIS IS GOING TO BE FREAKING AWESOME!!”
The 33-year-old Swiss former XCO national champion and U23 European Champion will race the 2020 E-MTB World Cup series in her rainbow jersey. She will be incredibly motivated to add the accolade of inaugural UCI World Cup overall winner to the unique title of inaugural UCI World Champion.
The UCI E-Mountain Bike Cross-country World Cup also provides opportunities for visitors to ride and compete, with E-MTB races being organised on the same courses as those of the Elite riders on the same weekends. There are even opportunities to hire and test different brands of E-bikes. In all, a friendly, inclusive atmosphere is promised across the events.
We’ll tell you more about that when we preview the Monaco opening round next week.