Fort William’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup has been named No.1 on a list of the top 5 bike events for spectators in 2016 by major mountain bike sponsor, Red Bull.

Famed for its extreme descents, stunning views and hugely animated crowds, the Highland occasion has become arguably the most popular stop on the eight-event World Cup circuit.

Indeed, it is the only World Cup event to place within Red Bull’s global top 5, being joined by occasions in Canada, USA, Czech Republic and Estonia.

Highland Council, BUFF and Silverline are also among the supporters of the event, which has been funded through EventScotland’s International Programme annually since 2003.

This year’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William, will take place on June 4-5, when the town will come alive with thousands of enthusiasts aiming to catch a glimpse of some of the sport’s biggest stars, including 2015 champion Rachel Atherton and the legendary Steve Peat, who will retire from World Cup racing at the end of the year.

Since joining the World Cup schedule in 2002, the Downhill at Fort William has become famous as a full-on, no compromise charge down the face of Aonach Mor, the 9th highest mountain in the UK. As competitors are well aware, the 2.8km course requires superb physical strength, instant reflexes, excellent bike control, an unerring eye for the right line and a lot of bottle.
Rock gardens, rock slabs, big jumps and technical natural sections add to the challenge all the way to the magnificent finishing section, where an incredible wall of sound awaits the competitors.

For the spectator, the difficulty of the terrain makes for one of the most exhilarating spectacles on the mountain biking calendar and, with new features and jumps incorporated in 2016, the upcoming edition looks set to be the best yet.

Excited at the prospect of returning to Scotland, World Champion, Rachel Atherton, said:

“I’m stoked to be racing at Fort William again. Winning there last year was an amazing rush and the support from the home crowd is epic. There’s such a buzz and everyone really gets behind the riders.

“The track is fierce – long, fast and brutal – with a gnarly woods section which catches a lot of riders out, so you really get to see some mad skills. There’s no better feeling than flying through the Scotland arch into the arena and sprinting for the line. And it’s awesome that those who can’t make it trackside can still catch all the action on Red Bull TV.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:

“The Fort William UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is an incredibly important event for Scotland, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world to the Highlands and promoting Scotland’s image as the perfect stage for events covering all cycling disciplines through global media coverage.

“Year upon year, thousands of bikers make their way to Fort William and this incredible endorsement from Red Bull is a clear indication why. For the mountain bike spectator, there is no better experience to be had anywhere, and we should take great pride in having such a tremendous event of international acclaim in our own back yard.”

Mike Jardine from Rare Management, organisers of the Fort William UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and BUFF 4X Pro Tour weekend, said:
“Coming top in the Red Bull ranking is a fantastic endorsement of Fort William’s legendary status. We’ve got true Legends of the sport, such as Steve Peat, six-time Fort William winner Greg Minnaar and three-time World Champion Rachel Atherton competing in front of an incredibly passionate and vocal crowd, at a venue that has an unrivalled reputation within the global mountain biking community. How good is it? There’s only one way to find out. Come and join us in the Highlands on 4-5 June.”

Prices remain unchanged from last year’s event, with tickets costing from £14 for adults and £8 for children aged 6 – 17 years old. Family packages are also available starting from £36.

For further information and tickets for the Fort William UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill and the BUFF 4x Pro Tour, log-on to http://localhost:8888/fortwilliamworldcup-2022.co.uk/

Photo: Charné Hawkes