The best DH and 4X courses at the 2004 stages of the UCI's Mountain Bike World Cup series were at Fort William, says the UCI. MSP says Highlands gets huge economic boost from staging such MTB events. Even organiser wants more commercial involvement from bike brands and Scottish companies.

Fort Bill wins UCI gongs for third year running

The award is based on the votes of competitors, officials and media from all over the world who had attended events in Scotland, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Austria and Canada on the 2004 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup circuit.

As well as winning the UCI Award for the downhill and 4X events, Fort William placed second in the award for XC events, behind Houffalize in Belgium.

Patricia Ferguson, MSP, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, said:

"The announcement by the UCI is a tremendous boost to the country. Last year the competitions attracted global media coverage and over 17 000 spectators to the Highlands. The Scottish Executive recognises the economic

benefits of staging world-class events in Scotland.

"Events are an integral part of our tourism industry and we are earning an enviable reputation for hosting outstanding international events."

The Nevis Range ski area and Leanachan Forest, Fort William, has hosted rounds of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Mike Jardine from Rare Management, organisers of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup events at Fort William, said:

"Three awards in three years is an amazing endorsement for Fort William and everyone involved. We’re all

looking forward to the challenge of continuous improvement in the build-up to the World Championships in 2007 – and we’ve already got some new ideas for the World Cup Finals this September.

This year Fort William is to host the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Finals from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th September.

"This year’s event will be a bit of a dress rehearsal for the 2007 World Championships – which is likely to be at least twice as big as the World Cup in terms of spectators, and competitors, with live global TV coverage," said Jardine.

"We are currently looking for commercial partners who want to share in the success of Fort William. Despite considerable support from the public sector, Scottish companies have not yet latched on to the winning potential of the Fort William event. We hope all that will change in the build-up to 2007."

Rare Management estimates that staging the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships at Fort William will attract more than 40 000 spectators on the key days of competition with a direct economic benefit to the immediate Lochaber area in excess of £2m.

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup calendar 2005

CC – No. 1 – April 24 – Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

DH & 4X – No. 1 – April 30-May 1 – Vigo, Spain

CC – No. 2 – May 8 – Madrid, Spain

CC – No. 3 – May 29 – Houffalize, Belgium

CC – No. 4 / DH & 4X – No. 2 – June 4-5 – Willingen, Germany

DH & 4X – No. 3 – June 11-12 – Schladming, Austria

CC – No. 5 / DH & 4X – No. 4 – June 25-26 – Mont-Ste-Anne, Canada

CC – No. 6 / DH & 4X – No. 5 – July 2-3 – Santa Catarina, Brazil

CC – No. 7 / DH & 4X – No. 6 – July 9-10 – Angel Fire, New Mexico

DH & 4X – No. 7 – August 21 – Pita, Italy

FINALS – CC / DH / 4X – No. 8 – September 10-11 – Fort William, Scotland

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