In This week’s Making Up The Numbers podcast, we were lucky enough to have Simon Burney join the team to answer all the burning questions about that new eight race 2020 Mountain Bike World Cup season ahead.
It’s clear that the UCI wants a 2020 MTB World Cup race season of some sort – for the sake of its sponsors, rider and team sponsors, and fans. Taking a leaf out of the ski race schedule, there are two double weekends of racing in Maribor and Lousa for Downhill, and one in Nove Mesto for XCO. Simon explains that the TV cameras can’t move between the Friday and Sunday race days, but that they’re hoping to move the tape enough within the range of the cameras to provide some variety and alternative challenge across the races, despite the same locations.
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Updated 2020 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Calendar
•5-6 September: Lenzerheide, Switzerland (XCO/DHI)
•CANCELLED 12-13 September: Val di Sole, Italy (XCO/DHI)
•19-20 September: Les Gets, France (XCO/DHI)
•29 September-4 October: Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic (XCO) – two rounds
•15-18 October: Maribor, Slovenia (DHI) – two rounds
•29 October-1st November: Lousa, Portugal (DHI) – two rounds
Greg Minnaar’s input seems to have guided the UCI’s decision, with it looking to get as many race opportunities a possible in for the benefit of those riders who are paid by results bonuses. Eight races in six locations is better than six in six if you’re being paid by results. That said, while eight races have been announced, Simon admits that things may yet change and not all these events may go ahead. However, he says if it’s a two race season, it’s a two race season, and that’s what they’ll deliver. The dates in the schedule now are ones that the organisers believe they can deliver, and they’re going to do all they can to make them happen.
One potential issue that’s yet to be tackled is the financial viability of the events is spectator numbers are limited or even not allowed at all. Simon says that one of the venues says they can go ahead even without spectators, but some others aren’t so sure. Obviously with COVID-19 policies affecting different countries in different ways, and changing on a regular basis, at the moment it’s hard to make plans. Simon thinks that having got this revised 2020 MTB World Cup calendar together, they’ve got time yet before they have to make any more tough decisions.
Until then, they’re figuring out the protocols for keeping riders, staff and spectators safe while delivering the events. He notes that the impacts go as far as affecting how the TV coverage can be delivered – there can been no groups of technicians cooped up in trailers doing the editing as usual.
It’s sure to be an exciting season, with a very different flavour to usual. The weather may well play a part, though they’ve left Portugal to last so as to race the ski areas before the snow kicks in. And whatever the outcome, they’ve still then got to figure out how the UCI points earned will – or won’t – feed in to next year’s racing. If some countries are under a travel ban, Simon doesn’t see it as a reason for everyone else not to race, but he does say he wants the next season to be fair in spite of them.
For all this and everything he had to say in detail, tune in to the podcast.