The highly combative elbow-to-elbow racing, exciting urban tracks and breathless knockout action of the UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup powered by citymountainbike.com returns in March for the start of a new season.
The short-course cross-country Eliminator (XCE) format is simple: one-lap time trial qualifiers decide the line-ups of early rounds. Then in each race, four riders leave the start gates together to compete in a fast blast to the line, with each race usually lasting less than 2 minutes. The first two finishers go through to the next round; the slower two… well, they’re eliminated. The field is whittled down to the last four for the final.
The courses are fast yet technical to test bike handling, pacing, line choice and power as well as race-craft – some sections lend themselves well to overtaking, others don’t. Jumps, sharp corners, man-made berms, climbs and descents, steps, flyovers, sand, mixed terrain and even mini rock gardens can feature on the sub-1km courses.
What’s new for 2020?
This year the UCI World Cup comprises seven rounds in seven countries - as it did in 2018 – between March and August.
The season’s kick-off takes place in a new venue, Dubai (UAE), while the remaining rounds will take place in familiar venues. The season finale will be played out in Winterberg, Germany, where multiple German champion Simon Gegenheimer won to clinch the 2017 Men’s title. The Women’s overall title that year went to Dutch multi-discipline rider Lizzy Witlox.
The one to watch
Last year’s UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup was wrapped up in a double-header with the final two rounds – in Winterberg then Graz, Austria – taking place six days apart. The Men’s overall win went to Frenchman Hugo Briatta.
Victorious in three of the six rounds (in France, Italy and Austria) the 23-year-old showed his strength and determination as well as consistency, finishing 2nd, 8th and 8th in the remaining rounds. The French and European XCE champion – who also finds time to study engineering – reports that after a well-deserved break he was down to serious winter training.
However, Briatta won’t be wearing the rainbow stripes. Those are in the possession of fellow Frenchman Titouan Perrin-Ganier - Briatta’s closest rival throughout the World Cup season -, who won the UCI World Championships for the third consecutive year in 2019. Briatta had to be content with the silver medal for the second year running at the Worlds in Waregem, Belgium. Meanwhile, Perrin-Ganier was double European Champion until Briatta took that title from him last year. There is obvious rivalry, but also clear respect:
“I do admire Titouan. He has a huge track record and still manages to be there at the championships,” said Briatta of the man five years his senior.
“He taught me a lot and I owe him a lot. Despite this deep respect, I really want to challenge him and beat him on a regular basis.”
The Women’s 2019 UCI XCE World Championships were won by the super-talented Gaia Tormena who was in dominant form. The 18-year-old Italian and European Champion took the double UCI World Cup – UCI World Champs in style in her first World Cup season.
Will she have things all her own way again in 2020?
We’ll bring you a special piece on her progress later in the season.
The 2020 UCI World Championships will also be held in Belgium, this time in the Flemish city of Leuven. But before that, there will be plenty of World Cup action!
2020 UCI MTB XCE World Cup and World Championships
6th March - World Cup Round 1, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
28th March - World Cup Round 2, Barcelona, Spain
5th June - World Cup Round 3, Villard-de-Lans, France
14th August - World Cup Round 4, Waregem, Belgium
16th August - World Cup Round 5, Valkenswaard, The Netherlands
23rd August - UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Championships, Leuven, Belgium
29th August - World Cup Round 6, Graz, Austria
27th September - World Cup Round 7, Winterberg, Germany