Race days at the Fort William mountain bike downhill world cup will get underway in the Lochaber town from tomorrow, Saturday.
With more than 250 competitors from 30 nations and their entourages descending on the town, it will be a much-needed financial boost to the area.
The town is already filled with competitors taking place in testing and training on the downhill slopes at the Nevis Range ski area – some six miles from the town centre.
Use the park and ride
While gondola tickets to the event have been sold out since March, organisers said that on the day tickets are still available.
They are urging people to use the park and ride shuttle bus from Blar Mhor and Spean Bridge.
Businessman, and newly-elected Highland councillor Angus MacDonald, who represents Fort William and Ardnamurchan, said: “The people of Lochaber welcome visitors to Fort William for the world cup, we are privileged to have the event at the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
“We know many hundreds of thousands of people will see on various media how beautiful Lochaber is – and hopefully will want to come and visit us.”
Councillor Sarah Fanet, who also represents the Fort William and Ardnamurchan ward said: “I grew up in a part of the French Alps which I saw transformed when the area hosted international sporting events such as the cycling world championships in 1989 and the winter Olympics in 1992.
“This weekend’s world cup is great news for Lochaber and I hope this is only a beginning.
“I look forward to more international events which will have a potential to bring investments to our region. Let’s keep Lochaber connected with the international community and make sure it benefits the people of Lochaber.”
What’s the event?
The Fort William World Cup is one of 10 events taking place in Europe and North America, from April to September.
At a world cup, riders can compete as individuals, for factory teams or for their national teams.
Riders can only enter if they have a minimum number of governing body, UCI, points.
These points are earned in other qualifying mountain bike events.
Although the World Championships medals are the most recognised titles in downhill mountain biking, they are for one-off competitions, whereas the world cup overall title is the best reflection of performance over a range of different courses through the season.
At Fort William there are two events – downhill and four-cross.
- Downhill is a high-speed descent down the Nevis Range course – a gruelling rock strewn ribbon of bike-smashing dirt that drops 1722ft in 1.7miles. The current course record is four minutes 35 seconds.
- Four-Cross is gladiatorial in format and epic in scale. As soon as the start gate drops the four riders are powering down the jumps, berms and drop-offs, searching for the winning line and the passing move that will get them to the finish line first.