Pietermaritzburg Success Story


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The International Cycling Union (UCI) has given high praise in its final report on the recent Mountain Bike World Cup, presented by Shimano, sponsored by DCM Chrome, held last month in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

The UCI’s comprehensive 15-page report on the most prestigious cycling event ever held in Africa, heaped praise on the organisers, the city of Pietermaritzburg, the region of KwaZulu-Natal and the South African mountain biking community for the successful staging of the new event, a strong indication the event will be re-awarded to Pietermaritzburg in 2010.

Although the UCI identified some areas that could be improved upon, none were of any huge significance and the Event Director, Alec Lenferna, was satisfied: “We knew there were some areas that were not 100% and we had already identified these elements in our internal meetings, so the report by the UCI held no surprises for us. It was the first time that a Triple event (Downhill, 4X and Cross-country) had ever been staged in Africa so we had no template to work off really and we are very satisfied with what has come out of the report.”

Among the areas that received the highest praise from the UCI was the level of the support from the public. Approximately 17000 enthusiasts streamed into the competition arena adjacent to the Cascades Shopping Centre on the northwest perimeter of the city over the three days.

The success of South Africans, Burry Stander (third in the men’s cross-country) and Greg Minnaar (winner of the men’s downhill) no doubt helped stir some patriotic spirit among the fans that lined the course. A positive element that certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

It has also been calculated that the event generated at least a R19 million boost for the city and surrounding areas, with more than R15.5 million spent on accommodation, restaurants and in the retail sector. The organisers also spent more than R2.1 million with local suppliers who provided services and infrastructure.

The event received hundreds of millions of rands worth of media exposure, both locally and abroad, in a combination of print, online, radio and TV. Almost 100 media were accredited for the event, which included 48 international journalists, 36 photographers and 19 TV- and film-crew members.

Initial monitoring results supplied within 10 days of the event showed more than 125 hours of international television broadcast time was generated in 59 countries. This number is expected to double once the final measurement is complete. This was supplemented by a huge website presence with both event news on a wide range of international and local sites, and the live broadcasts on http://www.freecaster.tv.

“Mountain bike racing has coincided – and evolved – with the computer generation and has a massive international following via the Internet medium,” explained Lenferna. “An example of the online interest in the Pietermaritzburg event is the 30 000 hits per hour during the racing period on http://www.canadiancyclist.com – in the early hours of the morning Canadian time!”

According to Lenferna, a final evaluation of all the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup events staged around the world will take place this weekend at the UCI Management Board meeting.

“I’ve believe a recommendation has been made already that Pietermaritzburg be included in the 2010 worldwide programme. We’ll know for certain when the UCI releases its 2010 racing schedule on 19 June. We are very confident that we will be staging the event again in 2010 and the dates that have been set aside are 9–11 April.”

Lenferna also revealed that the UCI have asked him and his team to put in a bid for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

“The Mountain Bike World Championships is something that was always in our plans but we and the UCI officials had to see how we handled a World Cup event first. We have been asked to submit an expression of interest letter for the 2013 UCI MTB World Championships, which I did last week.”

The MTB World Championships is a much larger event than the MTB World Cup with many more participants and competition over a longer time period, which translates into a greater economic impact on the city in particular and the region as a whole.

Lenferna and his team are already preparing for the 2010 UCI BMX World Championships, which they will be staging in Pietermaritzburg in July next year. Part of the preparation for that event, which will host over 3000 participants, is Round 2 of the 2009 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, which is being held in Pietermaritzburg this August.

For more information on the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, visit http://www.bmxworldcupsa.co.za

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