Coach Chris Kilmurray Weighs In On 2019 UCI MTB Rulebook Changes

Oct 3, 2018
by Chris Kilmurray  
Greg Callaghan s coach Chris Kilmurray is here this weekend to both help Greg and race himself.

Chris Kilmurray, coach to riders like Tahnee Seagrave, Greg Callaghan, Greg Williamson and others, chimes in on how he thinks the 2019 UCI MTB rule changes are going to affect next year's racing.

2019 MTB rule changes

For all the stick the UCI gets, the past handful of years have mainly seen positive or at least progressive rule changes. At the core of most of these changes is a collaborative process between the UCI’s MTB focused staff and the Elite teams that compete in the World Cup series. While it’s not all been plain sailing and rosy for riders and teams, the rulebook does need to advance, grow and develop with the sport of DH and, by and large, given the bureaucratic tendencies of the UCI, the development of rules & regulations for DH has been, these past few years, somewhat directed by the key stakeholders. 2019 sees some welcome and some surprising changes but overall changes that advance the professionalism of the sport.

Course Marking

The 2018 Rulebook had a very arbitrary “you must enter the course where you exit” rule concerning leaving the course. This was brought in in 2016 after issues with interpretation of the then rules which left the definition of “advantage” up to the president of the commissaires panel. In 2018 with a few high profile disqualifications the need for a more ironclad rule on how the courses should be marked and defined was needed as that is what, in the end, governs then need for a disqualification. The changes for 2019 all seem positive, “tape” and “stakes” are now both mentioned for course marking and the importance of the latter for a disqualification has been clarified.

Bernard Kerr hucking out and over the tape for a DQ today.
Remember when Bernard Kerr snuck out the tape at Leogang?

Wheel Size

Business up front – party out back? The Mullet bike? I have no idea who lobbied for this change but the general rule of a bike needed front and rear wheels of the same diameter is gone for MTB competition. Again contrary to the opinion of many, the UCI have been very relaxed in applying the road cycling focused rules of Rule Book 1 to off-road disciplines; recognising the need for the sport's rules to reflect its rapid development – but turning a blind eye is a bit different to actively highlight and allowing “frankenbikes”. Maybe like our distant cousin, motocross, we will settle on a slightly bigger front versus rear wheel? DH and enduro now have the option of odd sized wheels, but not XC .. maybe I’m missing something? But either way rule 1.03.018 overrides all else and in theory bans 29ers?

Greg Minnaar V10 29er
Santa Cruz was quick to jump on the 29er bandwagon.

Running Order and Protected Status

The 2018 T.V. running order was a mess – but was a change brought on mainly by a few select DH teams. It was a change that resulted in a less than well-worded rule in the rulebook and a quick scramble to sort it before finals at DH WC #1 in Losinj followed by a season-long mess! It was always going to be a “try it and see” change and we clearly saw it didn’t work – so back to a more sensible system. Although the wording is very awkward in the rule amendments, there are not 5 spots for men and 3 for women for non-protected riders to start in their reverse qualifying order for finals. A positive and workable system. The top 3 junior men and women from current standings are now also protected for finals which is a hotly debated change among some team managers.

Harrison enjoying a fair spell in the hot seat.
The contest for the hot seat will be back to its high-suspense olden-days in 2019.

Timed Training

A small but potentially important change for a select few riders. Juniors from the top 10 male and top 3 female WC ranking of 2018 will be allowed timed practice in 2019 at the first race. It may seem small but that timed session can be crucial practice time for riders – so as a first-year Elite on a new track in Maribor it could be a season-changing positive for some.

After being almost 3 seconds up at the last split it was a shocker to everyone to see Loic cross the line more than 7 seconds behind Gwinn.

eMTB, Snowbikes and Pumping

I’m not sure what to say here, but I have some pretty strong eOpinions. That aside it seems to me that if the UCI legislate for these events they are more likely to get event organises on their books, so to speak, early. Cycling disciplines are growing, none faster than ebiking. So it makes sense. The standout oddity for me is allowing 20” wheels in MTB pump track competitions… that’s just BMX and they are certainly faster around a pump track than a 24” wheel… right?

Ride Hard on Snow Foto c Hannes Berger

The changes to the rulebook are highlighted in red:


Photos: Matt Wragg, Andy Vathis, Paris Gore, Ross Bell, Paul Cram, Dave Trumpore & Hannes Berger.


104 Comments

  • 26 0
 Also note this is now being enforced, it's a rule from 2013 that was inserted: Forbidden races:

1.2.019 No licence holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI.

Depending on the circumstances, a national federation and the UCI may grant special exceptions for particular races or events run in its own country.

Particular races or events may consist of:

- events organised occasionally only and which do not belong to the organised

sports movement;

- events whose format is not covered by the UCI regulations.

Any national federation intending to grant a special exception must submit its reasoned request to the UCI administration in the beginning of the season and at least two months before the respective event. The decision of the UCI in this respect is final and shall not be subject to appeal.

============================================================

I believe Brook MacDonald and a few more got their wings clipped for doing a street race in Chile?
No MTB riders have been sanctioned, just a slap-on-the-wrist letter to explain that they competed in an unsanctioned race and to check before they enter a race that it is on a calendar.

The recent Red Bull Hardline had a UCi Commissaire appointed. Will we see riders made to wear rear number boards, National/World Champs jerseys etc..

Food for thought folks..
  • 96 5
 I was obliged to pay a License fee to Swedish Cycling Association if I wanted to become a member of a BMX club and come to the trainings even if I do not want to race. I don’t think I am going to pay it.

Those a*sholes have their hands in everything as if they deserved it. They are here to serve US, we do not serve them. So prohibiting athletes to participate in races where they make probably the biggest impact bring most new souls to the sport is pure bollocks. This is where they inspire kids and fans, by showing up on a local race. This is where they do some of the best ambassadorship for their brands because they MEET people in person.

So Sorry, f*ck UCI and National Cycling Federations. I reinforce it: you are here to Serve Us not the other way around.
  • 50 0
 The UCI is the pimp and the racers are it’s hoes. Can’t have your hoes going out working independently and not paying up!!
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: The BMX club memberships is probably for insurance/liability purposes. Otherwise the drop-in fee to use the track for training could be much higher!

The rule is bullshit and was controversial in the US a couple of years ago with the rise of endurance races that were operating under a different sanction. Fatbike races commonly operate under a different sanction so that studded tires can be used.
  • 7 6
 @racerfacer: I am pretty sure it isn't because all it takes for a BMX club to be free of any liability problems is "I hereby state that I use the track on my own risk". And one would have to be damn stupid not to be fine with that.
  • 2 0
 Generally speaking, if the event does not have any form of license control at the onset, it could very well be a non-sanctioned race.

Thus, EWS riders (along with other non-UCI events such as Crankworkz) will then need to have UCI licenses while the event itself will need UCI Commissaire/s present.
  • 9 4
 @Verbl-Kint: that is wht it is all about "event will need UCI Commissaire present". I see no other reason for the rule to exist than that. I have been sitting on a train trip with two delegates from Polish National Cycling Association and the talk between them was somewhat ridiculous. First off they themselves do not earn anything by showing up to a race. National Cycling Association however does. Not a huge sum of money, but still. You could however feel the scent of strive for importance from those two guys, they raved about how cool it is to be on a road race in a car and give "guidelines" to people. Well if you don't have results in your career but want to feel important... It's a double edged sword or rather, a two hand wank. Small events want to get some rank in order to attract more spectators and racers. Cycling Assosciations want... money. They both support each other and it's fine. What isn't fine when organisational body makes a rule enforcing it on racers.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: there are levels from an officiating perspective (club, regional, national, elite national, and international commissaire) but the reason why I mentioned that a UCI commissaire needs to be present is because only commissaires (and federation officials, who usually also are/were commissaires) have access to DataRide and can confirm/scrutinize UCI ID's
  • 6 0
 @Verbl-Kint: First place in qualis has to race naked? Last place in the finals has to fight Mike Tyson , UCI really making it interesting this year.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I have to join the ABA to ride my sanctioned BMX track. Can't just sign a waiver. I can't tell you why, it just is that way.
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: You really think a waiver that simple is protection?
  • 1 0
 @si-paton the biggest impact here will be felt by semi-professional riders who supplement their income by joining these unsanctioned races; Western Europe is generally compliant but North America, South America and many parts of Asia will be adversely affected. National Federations all over the world will need to decide whether they will drop the hammer to enforce this rule or be more collaborative with race organizers or both.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: In Australia I had to become a member of BMX Australia to attend BMX training/coaching and gates practice. Insurance is the reason for this not UCI. AT the BMX track we cannot run Gates or Practice without a certain number of people present who hold official status - and the key thing behind the offical status is first aid.

There is a concept called "Duty of Care" - This concept applies to all aspects of life. We live in a litigious world. When someone trips on the footpath and hurts their ankle the first question the often ask is who can they sue - if they don't ask this then their friends and relatives ask it.

So if you want to know who to look to to "blame" for "excessive rules" - look to understand their evolution
  • 5 1
 @AlanMcCrindle: I know exactly where it comes from. Dumb parents catering to a-hole organisations. No adult above IQ 90 would have issue signing "at own risk" agreement. In fact in most bike parks you are complying with "at own risk" by buying a lift card. I do understand that BMX club stands in crossfire of idiots and a*sholes like Cycling Federations. Also yoyur concept of Duty of Care may apply to countries with patologic legal, insurance and health care system like USA has. It rarely applies in Europe, maybe in Italy. Since National Healthcare of most EU countries cover you for most injuries and treatments, insurance companies generally pay you what you deserve, lawyers have little to play with. So an idiot who did not pay any sense making form of health insurance for their kid cannot blame someone else because that kid crashed. Your "Duty of care" system is nothing more but a defense mechanism for decent people against what in intelligence and moral terms can be described as sub humans. A system fully exploited by insurance agencies and beaurocratic sport conglomerates. This normalcy of "someone ought to pay for cleaning my shit and I will hire a bully in form of a lawyer to fix it, threaten everyone who may have been involved, in fact my lawyer will fix it with their lawyer, so nothing personal, it's actually between lawyers of big companies, I sue and threaten you, but not really you" is not too sound in Europe.

I am 100% fine with paying the BMX club double of what they are asking but I don't want to support Swedish Cycling Federation with a tiniest penny.
  • 2 0
 Ironically, Chinese DH riders don't even have any chances at all to race a UCI registered race. Those freaking a*sholes only cares about how much money they can make and how many gold medals they can win in Olympics.
  • 1 0
 @milanboy1986: that sucks Chinese riders can’t enter, would like to see more nations participate for sure and maybe add 2 more races to the series to make consistency even more important
  • 1 0
 Where did you see this is now going to be enforced ? Thanks
  • 1 0
 @dmock157: responding to milanboy above
  • 1 0
 Where did u see this ?
  • 1 0
 @dmock157: in his post lol
  • 1 0
 @mkotowski1: Yeah. There were rumors saying that the national federation considerred organizing a national DH team for Asian Championships, many young riders were really excited and prepared. But finally the plan was aborted. sigh.
  • 1 0
 @dekerf853: well, it works for WBP
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I’m sorry but that disclaimer just doesn’t mean shit nowadays !
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: they may have a legal leg to stand on if you sign the waiver, but (at least in NA) all of those organizations still carry liability insurance, primarily to protect the executive/directors from personal responsibility. It's the same as signing a waiver at the ski hill but the better believe the resort carries a big liability policy...
  • 17 0
 "But either way rule 1.03.018 overrides all else and in theory bans 29ers?"

Wait, what?
  • 2 0
 Yeah, was surprised about that. Have to look up that rule, wasn't published in the article. Also I missed where XC riders weren't allowed to ride with different wheel diameters front and rear in UCI sanctioned competition. Why? What justifies the ban (on dissimilar wheel sizes) in the first place?
  • 31 0
 @vinay: I looked it up. The rule establishes bounds for the maximal (70cm) and minimal (55cm) diameters of wheels INCLUDING the tire. I do not have a 29er at hand (26 for life, and all that shit), but according to Wikipedia (of all sources), a standard 29er rim with an MTB tire is about 74cm in diameter. This would ban 29ers from competition unless they used some ridicuolusly narrow tires.
  • 2 0
 @santoman: cheers. did wonder aboot that
  • 2 0
 @nojzilla: not sure about that though, that rule is considering only mass starts?!
  • 4 0
 theory. maybe XC tyres are allready under the 70cm rule an that's what they based that on???
  • 7 0
 @santoman: Thus paving the way for the introduction of another wheel size?
  • 5 0
 @santoman: Thanks. This now confuses me even more. So they accept 20" in MTB pumptrack competition but want at least 55cm wheels. And they're going to try to ban the 29er in mtb. Tough times ahead...
  • 7 2
 70cm outer, that means 622 rim leaves 78mm, that is 39mm per tyre. No XC tyre being in use today is so thin, that is like 1.5” slick. That also means that some 27,5 wheels are over the edge. Regular 2,5” tyre will be around 60mm tall incl blocks so 700-2x60=580, and 27,5 rim is 584
  • 17 0
 Not sure if Kilmurray wasn't trolling, but the rulebook says that this only applies to road, track and cyclocross.

From the header of the "Technical Specifications" section that contains that rule:
"Except where stated to the contrary, the following technical specifications shall apply to bicycles used in road, track and cyclocross racing.

The specific characteristics of bicycles used in mountain bike, BMX, BMX Freestyle, trials, indoor cycling and paracycling for riders with disabilities are set out in the part regulating the discipline in question."
  • 5 1
 @natepdx: the article where wheels of different diameters are permitted for enduro and downhill specifically says that wheels are subject to rule 1.03.018, which is precisely the one where the 70cm upper bound on wheel diameter is introduced.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: the rule in question does not mention XC bikes, so even if they were going against 29ers (which I honestly doubt), it would "only" be for DH and enduro.
  • 8 0
 Maybe they shouldn't necessarily have Chris comment on these rules but just a Q&A with some UCI representative instead to get some of this confusion out of the way and give their justification for the limitations that are still in effect. In the end every competitor, coach, race organizer, industry representative etc can have her/his own opinion on these rules just like we each have our own too. And these may all be the beginning or the end of the world on these individual tiny islands (depending on where they're heading) but at the end of the day what matters most is that there is no confusion and everyone interprets them the same way.
  • 1 0
 @santoman: I have a Purgatory mounted and inflated on a 650 in a 3.0".... my tape measure says 73cm.... sooo everyone is going to be running a 650x 2.0?
  • 4 0
 @CrispiRider: no race for you! (Soup Nazi voice)
  • 5 0
 This article would have been vastly better with that throwaway reference to rule 1.03.018 deleted or--even better--EXPLAINED.
  • 6 0
 This needs testing. Surely someone in the #26aintdead fraternity could bring a legal case against the UCI for breach of this regulation by every single rider in a world cup DH round? Even better, if just one guy entered the race on 26" he could argue that he should win as all other entrants broke the rules by running wheels larger than 70cm and should be disqualified. Rules are rules after all.
  • 2 0
 It doesn't, because it doesn't apply to mountain bike events.

The preamble to the technical specifications part (rule 1.03.011 onwards) states "Except where stated to the contrary, the following technical specifications shall apply to bicycles used in road, track and cyclo-cross racing."

Neither 1.03.018 or any other of the 1.03.xxx regs after 1.03.010 have any impact on any kind of MTB racing.

Run 29+ if you want, it's all good!
  • 2 0
 @santoman: "the article where wheels of different diameters are permitted for enduro and downhill specifically says that wheels are subject to rule 1.03.018, which is precisely the one where the 70cm upper bound on wheel diameter is introduced."

That's definitely a mistake. There is no part of 1.03.018 that applies to MTBs. It's even stated within the text of 1.03.018 that its provisions apply to road and CX.
  • 15 4
 I dont like the protected rider status at all. It seems to help maintain the status quo and make it harder for new riders to break into the pointy end of the field. It also means that those who are protected can, if they want to, reduce the risks on race weekend by not having to ride as hard in qualifying.
  • 11 0
 But since points are at stake in qualifying, almost no one in the protected rider list will risk not gaining points for the overall. When was the last time someone in the top 20 bagged on qualifying not due to injury?
  • 2 0
 Since the newer rider will theoretically start finals earlier, they have the advantage of better track conditions and thus, a chance to move up.
  • 2 0
 I would like someone to provide some analysis here before jumping to conclusions here.

How many times does a protected rider (top 20 in standings) not qualify in the the top 30? How many times does a top 10 rider in the standings not qualify in the top 30? More importantly, how many times does someone who finishes the season in the top 20 have qualifying results out of the top 30 not including mechanicals and DNFs die to injury?

In other words, how often is someone who has a top 20 qualifying result being bumped from TV coverage for a protected rider who didn't qualify well? We don't need Gwin sitting in the hot seat for 50 riders because he has a flat in qualifying and not see his run (and i know Redbull could record it, but its harder at that time because the time gaps between racers' start times are smaller so coverage is limited).
  • 4 1
 @dhx42: Did you pay attention this season? Time and time again top 20 qualifiers were bumped out of TV coverage... it happened to top 5 qualifiers also! Just ask Brook Macdonald... I'd rather see Gwin sit in the hot seat than not get to see the race runs of the people who earned a spot in the broadcast.
  • 1 0
 @millsr4: This season's start list/protection is different then what I described above. I am talking current season standings, like years prior. Additionally, this season had the start list modified in a way that had current season and last season rankings affect the order.

I think the start list should be in reverse order of qualifying times as in years prior. However, if any top 20 riders (i.e. protected) did qualify not in the top 30 (tv spots) they would bump out the riders who had the slowest qualifying times in the top 30 and be order in reverse order of qualifying times.

This has to happen if we want riders at the top end of the sport to be paid well and attract sponsorship dollars. That will hopefully lead to more teams, more coverage, and more races...
  • 2 0
 @dhx42: Why exactly does this have to happen to attract sponsorship dollars? If your a consistent rider you will be consistently in the top 30 and your sponsors will get exposure, it's as simple as that. If you push out other riders for the "top guys" you are limiting exposure for the lesser known teams and (IMO) would actually deter new riders and teams from entering the races to begin with, thus actually having the opposite impact of what was intended.

Part of what makes this sport exciting is that sometimes unknown or little known riders can get on a hot streak to give the top guys a run for their money, i.e. Reece Wilson. I don't know about you but I would much rather see someone who is hot at the moment take their race run rather than someone who was on point last race or last season.
  • 1 0
 @millsr4: I am not talking about previous season results - I am talking current season standings (sorry if that wasn't clear). I also thought this years start list order was dumb. I don't think that previous season standings should matter as you pointed out.

Go to @EliotJackson site. Reece Wilson is a top 20 guy (was all season), so like you I want to see him race. However, he averaged 35th in qualifying, which would mean, on average, you wouldn't see him on TV per your metrics.

If you look at the overall season Dak Norton is the only guy who had a podium level result who wasn't in the top 20. My point here is while we all love the randomness, I don't think it is a random as well all think.
  • 1 0
 @millsr4: Also, in terms of sponsorship dollars, Reece should get paid more (i.e. bonus) for being top 20 and being on TV for each race even if he has an issue in qualifying. It gives him, the rider, more leverage to get better support.
  • 1 0
 @dhx42: I was referencing both last seasons results and current standings... "...rather than someone who was on point last race or last season."

When I mentioned Reece I was mostly talking about one race in particular(can't remember which one) where he was pushed off the broadcast by protected riders... if he qualified in 35 but is 20 overall I still don't believe he earned his spot on TV for that particular race.

Being paid as a top 20 rider is all well and fine but it still doesn't mean other people who have earned their spot at that venue should be pushed out. Every weekend it is a different venue with varying weather and conditions and the people who do best on the day should be rewarded per their effort not based on their standing. No one should be entitled unless you earn it that weekend!
  • 12 0
 Yay! So that means we can now race DH with our old Spesh Big Hits!
  • 1 0
 I'm dusting off my Brodie Diablo as we speak.
  • 10 1
 What about the rule that Enduro now counts for DH UCI points, surely that’s worth an analysis
  • 3 0
 Rule 4.7.007
  • 5 0
 In my opinion rule 1.03.018 is not applicable for mountain biking. Just for road bikes. It says also that the rims are not allowed to be wider than 25mm. Which is bullsh*t when it comes to mtb. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but MTB rules are chapter 4 of UCI rules while this rule is in chapter 1.

And I didnt even start talking about what mess this would cause in the mtb industry...
  • 1 0
 That's what I thought but when you read the regulations for mountain biking on the UCI site they refer you to 1.03.018 for maximum wheel size which 70cm (27.5)
Rim width I THINK is in relation to cyclo cross...I think...
  • 4 0
 To clear any confusion on wheel size...

Regulation for MOUNTAIN BIKE state...
version on 01.01.2019
4.1.044 For Mountain Bike downhill and enduro events, as opposed to the general rule defined in article 1.3.006, the two wheels can be of a different diameter but should comply with the specifications of article 1.3.018.

Article 1.3.018 states...
"Equipment 14/14
NON-STANDARD WHEELS IN CONFORMITY WITH ARTICLE 1.3.018 1.3.018
Wheels of the bicycle may vary in diameter between 70 cm maximum and 55 cm minimum, including the tyre. For the cyclo-cross bicycle the width of the tyre shall not exceed 33 mm and it may not incorporate any form of spike or stud."

70cm diameter including the tyre is guess what? 27.5 inches
  • 9 2
 All I can say is, fortunately the UCI doesn't govern my choices when it comes to what, where and how I ride.
  • 6 3
 Santa Cruz jumped on the bandwagon? hahaha. As far as I can tell, they were the first team to bring a DH 29 to the plate. IMO, the bandwagon has Santa Cruz plastered on the side.
  • 5 10
flag tbolt88 (Oct 3, 2018 at 2:36) (Below Threshold)
 Being the first major team to do what others are already doing does not make that team the first to do it.
IMO SC is the ultimate bandwagon brand - from R&D through branding and consumers - it all reeks of "don't do what others are not doing, call it your own thing and slap on that attitude-badge for bonus points"
SC is rapidly becoming the new Specialized IMO
  • 3 2
 It was Niner with the first dh bike. But the first commercial mtb on 29 wheels goes as far back as 91 with Bianchi. Gary Fisher and Geoff Apps played around with the idea a few years north of the millenium. Streber also pushed 29ers but essentially the dh 29 bandwagon was started by Niner; as in 91 we just called them mountainbikes.
  • 7 0
 I think it’s more about who was the first to race a 29 in World Cup downhill, not who had the very first 29 ever. But I agree with @glasvagas Santa Cruz were the first to race them, then a bunch of other brands were jumping in with their own versions of 29 DH bikes (most of them rushed and not quite sorted).
  • 4 0
 @lj17: just to be 'that guy' Alex Morgan with BCD Racing raced a 29er at MSA in the late 2000s. But yes, agreed that SBC gets the credit for legitimizing them in WC DH and bringing DH 29ers to the market. Just not theirs (yet).
  • 5 1
 Intesen did it back I. 2011 I think. So Santa Cruz is far from the 1st @lj17:
  • 1 0
 @evasive: I talked to him about it at the world masters champs in Kamloops in 2006. Only issue was tire choice back then. Bike was held together with wood screws and tin strips believe it or not and he finished respectably.
  • 4 0
 Maybe this guy can stick to coaching and Pinkbike doesn’t bother him again because he seems unable to bring an illuminating perspective to the matter thanks byeeee
  • 1 0
 Constructive criticism always welcome.
  • 4 3
 The rule book... a 5 year old can't make beans on toast, ask them too and they would make a simple task complicated...

I don't think that any rider should be protected! Puncture, crash or be injured doesn't give you the right over someone who has earned the spot on the weekend. This rule was brought in to stop people weather watching and gambling on an earlier start time for race runs, all part of the game really and a risk.
Practice should be practice, everyone, no matter what their ability should practice together, the current rule gives an unfair advantage to the riders near the cut.
Seed the next race off the overall in reverse order or the previous race.
Wheel size - Who cares.
Out of the tape - Poles become important, how does a tree factor into this? Out of the tape is out of the tape, this should include bending over poles and jumping over the bent pole, stops riders taking liberties on the taped tacks. Bottom of the pole should qualify as the pole, or a special pole for specific stumps etc to make it so they can't be hopped etc.
  • 3 3
 I think you're overlooking something though. The protected rider rule (and others) isn't just about making riders not do the weather watch thing, it's also (and arguably more so) about protecting riders who's teams put the largest amount of money and professionalism into the sport. Being as they're the ones that make things look slick and professional, they should be protected to some degree. Last year, the protected rider rule clearly went too far, and making sure that Gwin/Minnaar etc got prime TV broadcasts was, in the end, to the detriment of the sport as it spoiled the race tension build and a constantly changing hot seat (for example, missing Martin Maes run on the live feed at La Bresse).

Basically money talks, and to some degree this is protecting the money - which I think is right.
  • 1 0
 @IllestT: I understand why you would say that but...

The sport should be about performance and a equal and level playing field, not who can buy it!
How does YT make the TV broadcast look any slicker, the broadcast is put on by an independent team, its not like a rider who isn't in the top teams is going to turn up late and make the broadcast look unprofessional, that is disrespectful to the other riders and teams. Having a big bus in the pits makes no difference to me watching the live stream, that bus will still be there for the public visiting the venue (or if Andorra, no it wont as the pits are at the top of the track, so nowhere near the action).
  • 2 1
 You could basically fix a pole to the tree. Other than that i don't see a problem with jumping over bent poles.
  • 2 4
 @betsie: Whilst I don't disagree about what the virtues of DH should be, the fact remains that someone has to pay for it, so there has to be a compromise. YT is actually a prime example - Martin Whiteley was pretty much the main person who argued for the 2018 rules of protected riders, he manages 2 of the 3 YT riders. YT & Whiteley clearly put a ton of money into their team riders and if they weren't garuanteed broadcast time on the live feed, they'd be pretty pi$$ed off if their riders weren't on it due to mechanical/puncture/etc.

Its the same argument for when people say "the World Cup should be here, here and here".
No, the World Cup is wherever RedBull want it to be, because THEY pay for it and that's why it has a massive audience compared to what it got before RB did the coverage.

The regs have to be for the benefit of the money. Protected riders is to garuantee airtime of the sponsors brands. If you don't protect the big money riders, the money won't come to the sport
  • 4 0
 @IllestT: Wrong - RedBull does not decide the World Cup venue location.
  • 2 1
 @ka-brap: I think you'll find....
  • 3 0
 @IllestT: You make a lot of interesting observations, and you have reasonably good inside information that is largely correct.

Some points that you make are incorrect though.

Regarding destinations / venues.
The local organiser submits a tender to the UCI, I can't remember the exact cost. It's between 30k euro and 40k euro, depending on how many years you are willing to tender for. It is then the organisers job to make a profit. RB and the UCI do place some tight regs on the local organiser though, especially media wise and making sure Mercedes have enough expo.

Audience growth.
Contentious subject. Data not clear enough. Certainly not bigger than when it was on Eurosport and terrestrial.

Whitely has been around long enough to see the cyclic nature of DH is an old battleaxe and works hard for his riders. Money has been here before, we had Eurosport, broadcast TV (The First mtb World Cup at Ft Bill in 2002 achieved its highest ever viewing figures - broadcast on Channel 4 UK) . It is true he lobbied harder than anyone else for the rule changes.

DH is a sport full of risk, and money should not be able to buy you out of the risk of a rider not getting air time due a mechanical. You invest in racing - you accept that risk. If you don't have the stomach for it, invest elsewhere.

I've sat on nearly every side of this argument, and despite it all, I still think we should never sacrifice sporting integrity for money. The last thing DH needs is to become a square, corporate, stale sport ran by suits.
  • 2 2
 Either I'm a little cynical or you guys are nieve, I really don't know!
  • 3 1
 "I don't think that any rider should be protected! Puncture, crash or be injured doesn't give you the right over someone who has earned the spot on the weekend"

Haven't the protected riders (who gained that status by consistently posting good finishes) also "earned" that spot? I would argue they have earned the right to be there much more so than a rider who may have just put down one good run in qualifying.
  • 2 0
 @IllestT: We might know each other . I've sat in these meetings. I've done the organiser thing. Money plays a role, but not all teams investing believe we should go this way.

You're focussed on the now, and like a few hard lobbyists can't look at the whole picture and DH holistically from the bottom up, rather than the top down. Top down doesn't work. We see that in society and now in DH, as grass roots dies. We need stability, not continuous growth.

I raised the NZ Rugby union story before - they took the approach that DH is taking, poured money into the elite aspect hoping it would drage people in and it eventually affected them hugely, as grass roots participation suffered massively. It went the other way to what they thought it would. They pivoted quickly, and opened pathways for players to move through the ranks based on talent alone, while reconnecting the sport to all backgrounds.

I'd be happy for DH to go the way it is going if some mangers looked beyond the "now" and helped develop regional, national and continental pathways for riders to move up.

In this respect, Baller has nailed this for the EWS and has shown that profitability and doing the right thing for a sport can work.

In short, Kathy Sessler knows whats up, and so do Santa Cruz.
  • 2 0
 @Truthteller007: on the contrary dear boy - my experience of WC teams is running a small trade team a few years ago. Back when you could get a trade team for £5k, we had a shoe string budget and a brand to promote so sold places on the team (mostly to dad's of Junior riders). So I do have some idea of the history of things and have seen "the money" from a few different angles.
Initially I found some of the protection rules frustrating, but grew to understand and appreciate their necessity
  • 2 0
 Anyway, this is Pinkbike, shouldn't we be cussing each other and negative propping by now? This is all too civilised!
  • 1 0
 I a glad that this is s civil conversation.

Money does talk, but at what point does the money potentially remove some of the spark from the sport.
There is something about knowing that everyone has to qualify, that everyone has the same practice and that everyone is at the same risk, regardless of how consistent they have done in previous races.

The format from last year meant that riders of similar ability were training together, does this make for closer racing? Arguably yes, but it also means that its easier for the top riders to see the other top riders lines that they did not see and therefore gain a competitive advantage that they may not have had.

If a rider is under pressure, we had this with Gwin, Minnaar in 2017 then they can choose what races to enter knowing that the race run will bring them points. Yes they have the ability to score those points but they also have the brains to be able to practice less, throw seeding and still have the energy for a race run, would they have placed as highly in that race run if they had to put full effort into practice and seeding? Who knows but I would say not.

Dh is and always will be a small participation sport, any moneys that come into the sport are great, at the moment the investment from the likes of YT is probably mostly focused on riders wages, those riders, like all athletes will make other money from sponsorship deals. Its not a life long career after all and being higher risk, injury can come.

I stand by my slightly rose tinted view that the sport should be as fair and equal as possible. The difference in ability of riders who are qualifying now is small enough, probably due to the professionalism of the riders and the narrowing of the competitive gap due to new technologies that a top rider qualifying lower down the order wont catch another rider in a race run. Wouldn't it be nice if we could keep Dh real and not make it about money and protecting riders.
  • 3 0
 @betsie: Your whole argument seems to hinge on your assumption that the top riders don't have to put fourth the same full effort to qualify as those who are unprotected. In theory the argument makes some sense, but it doesn't play out that way in practice. The top guys are always near the top in qualifying times, they are putting fourth the effort. They aren't giving anything away in qualifications. Those points the earn in qualification matter.
  • 1 0
 @sino428: of course they put the effort in. Regardless they will be the top riders. They do have their own practice and it's later in the day. With the limited practice that there is now, this often means if there is a new section of track that juniors then b practice are cutting the track in as part of their practice. This must make it harder for newer riders to crack the top of the field.
  • 1 0
 Having ridden a bike that was 29 front 27.5 rear for the better part of a year I was not super stoked living with it. Not being able to swap tires front and rear really sucked more than I thought it would. Also if you are doing a race, or going on a trip and want to have a spare tire...now you have to bring 2. Are you serious about racing and want a couple of tires to choose from for the course? Yeah that sucks. Want to do some trail riding and bring a tube? Yeah a 27.5 tube can stretch to 29 but still, it just sucks a little bit more. There are benefits--minor ones--but it just wasn't worth it to me.

I think for 99% of people would be happier with a bike with the same sized wheels.
  • 1 0
 Yeah but what was the ride quality like, convenience aside? Because that's what's going to matter at the sharp end of racing.
  • 1 0
 It's not going to be for the everyman I'd of thought. But a little more money spent on tyres might be worth it for some people. And none of these are issues if you're a top level racer.
  • 3 1
 When I saw this I thought UCI-mmmm ,do I really want to click and read this I rather see if there some cool picks on this one.>>> snow one looks fun.
  • 6 6
 I am not sure whether introducing 20” wheels will change much for the pumptrack unless top bmx racers will start to show and will be given the opportunity to make a few pedal strokes before they hit the first roller. Then yes, most MTBers are fkd.
  • 2 1
 Though pump track comps (like in Crankworks) take place with chainless bikes...
  • 1 0
 Yah bmxers live on the pump, aka an apt renaming of the bmx track
  • 1 0
 @santoman: good, gives mtb boys a chance. Otherwise... 2000+Watts kaboom!
  • 1 0
 What next rigid forks?
  • 1 0
 Barry Nobles seems like a prime candidate to run the 20s. He is fast on the bigger tire, but has a lot of experience on the 20.
  • 3 0
 This really didn't clear anything up at all. Definitely no return to 2017 and prior start order either.
  • 1 0
 As a spectator mostly now, I enjoyed the protected rider part of qualifying for race day. It meant that I was always guaranteed to watch an exciting race and not miss any of my favourite riders during the broadcast.
  • 4 2
 This article could've done with a better edit. No real 'analysis' here.
  • 1 4
 This comment would've benefited from better grammar. ;-)
  • 2 0
 Seems like FIM is the proper sanctioning body for eBikes.
  • 4 4
 E-bikes is just MOTORCYCLING! Mt.Bike racing is dead!
  • 2 1
 uhhh what kind of motorcycles have you been on? 3cc?

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