MOUNTAIN BIKING: Revamped course a challenge to contestants
INTERNATIONAL Cycling Union (UCI) technical delegate Simon Burney believes the revamped course for the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC) on Oct 15-20 will pose a stiff challenge to competitors.
Burney, who recently made his second trip to the island to inspect the course, said the track for the six-day event has yet to be finalised but was happy with what he has seen so far.
""We are in the midst of finding new things as the basis for our final layout of the actual course but in general, it's a really great course," said Burney, who is also the LIMBC technical consultant.
"The course offers many unique features and a variety of challenges for competing riders."
Burney was accompanied by eight-time British champion and former Olympian, Nick Craig, who was given the privilege of testing the Langkawi course.
"Although some parts of the course are still under construction, my impression is that it offers a very nice technical terrain, with dirt roads and a jungle setting thrown into the mix," said Craig.
"The jungle is a big difference compared to the other races around the world but it is very exciting indeed.
"The opportunity of riding around in nature is too good to miss."
Craig is one of only two cyclists in history to compete in both the Men's Road Race and the Men's Cross-Country Mountain Bike at the same Olympic Games, which he did in Sydney 2000.
The only other cyclist to accomplish the feat was Thomas Frischknecht of Switzerland at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Burney added that a successful LIMBC 2012 would be crucial in strengthening Langkawi's bid to host one round of the UCI MTB Marathon Series in 2013 or 2014.
"This year's race will come under great scrutiny. Among the technical considerations and the overall organisation of the race we hope to see a number of the world's top 20 riders participating," said Burney.
Following the successful back-to-back editions of LIMBC in 2010 and 2011, race organisers Human Voyage is aiming to bring one round of the UCI MTB Marathon series and the UCI MTB World Championships to Langkawi in the near future.
Asia has yet to stage any round of the major UCI Mountain Bike series. The 2012 UCI World Cup Cross Country Series and UCI Marathon MTB Series has so far visited venues in South Africa, Belgium, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, UK, Italy, France, Croatia, Canada and US, with remaining rounds in Latvia, Switzerland and Austria.