Saalfelden Leogang is gearing up for the UCI 2020 Mountain Bike World Championships
Five weeks until the UCI 2020 Mountain Bike World Championship in Saalfelden Leogang kick off and preparations are in full swing. From October 7 to 11, the world's best Cross-Country, Downhill, E-MTB and Cross-Country Relay riders will compete for World Championship medals in 13 competitions. The circumstances are a particular challenge, but World Championships organizer and CEO of Saalfelden Leogang Touristik, Marco Pointner, is looking forward to the World Champs: "We want to organize a great and successful event, and everyone has to make their contribution," says Pointner.
New track (sections) ensure high tension
For the first time since 2012, UCI Cross-Country races will be held in Saalfelden Leogang. In addition to a new section for the Downhill track, a completely new Cross-Country course is currently being built. Riders will face off on a challenging 3.4-kilometer course, which will include technical elements such as gaps and root passages where the athletes will need to heavily rely on their skills, while also having to deal with an altitude difference of over 200 meters The varied track is mostly located in the finish area of the Epic Bikepark Leogang and riders will take on parts of the Greenhorn Trail, the Bongo Bongo and the Forsthof Trail, among others. Contrary to the norm, the trails are ridden both downhill and uphill.
The second UCI E-Mountain Bike World Championships will take place on a slightly modified Cross-Country route. The participants in the E-MTB World Champs have to cover 4.3 kilometers and an altitude difference of 310 meters per lap.
Ten years ago, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup celebrated its premiere in Leogang. Since 2010, the famous Speedster has hosted nine Downhill World Cups and, in 2012, the Downhill World Championships. For this year's title fights, the world-famous 2.5-kilometer track is getting a new, technical section. The predominantly natural part, with root passages, an extremely steep area, a bridge and a gap, is located between the Bongo Bongo and the previously known World Cup route.
“We are right on schedule with the construction work and can hardly wait for the completion. The XC route is quite varied and demanding. It also offers some overtaking opportunities. The technical part in a forest and the section on the Bongo Bongo will certainly be a highlight. The new technical segment of the Downhill track also raises the Speedster to another level”, explains Kornel Grundner, World Championships organizer and CEO of Leoganger Bergbahnen. The tracks will be completed in mid-September.
Four COVID-19 prevention concepts ensure safety
Parallel to the practical preparation, the administrative organization is also in full swing. The following four COVID-19 prevention concepts are intended to guarantee a smooth and, above all, healthy World Championship:
Athletes and teams are shielded from the outside world and stay in their bubble. On arrival, athletes and staff members must present a negative PCR test (the test has to have been administered in the last 72 hours before arrival).
There is a division into the sub-areas of employees/volunteers, media and athletes/teams. This avoids points of contact between the various groups on site.
3. Media center/press:
There will be a limited number of accreditations. Journalists also need a negative Corona test – the 72-hour rule also applies here. Media representatives can use the following link to get accreditation for the World Cup by September 20th: https://uci.getyourevent.online/
The workstations in the media center are arranged according to the rules of distance and will be cleaned regularly. Daily press conferences will take place. In addition, there will be separate mixed zones for interviews, differentiated by XC and DH.
Employees and volunteers are prohibited to get in touch with the athlete and team bubble. They are also subject to strict distance rules and must wear mouth and nose protection.
In addition, masks must be worn on the entire premises, both indoors and outdoors, and the distance rule of 1.5 meters must be observed by all those involved. Disinfectants are available in possible waiting zones. Beyond this, thermal cameras monitor the body temperature of everyone involved.
Despite the difficult situation, Pointner believes in a smooth procedure: “The circumstances caused by COVID-19 have led to an unfamiliar and somehow 'different' World Championship as usual. But we are firmly convinced that due to the development of our COVID-19 prevention concepts, we can crown the World Champions in Cross Country, Downhill, E-MTB and Cross-Country Relay. At the same time, we hope and wish that as many athletes as possible make the trip to Saalfelden Leogang in order to be able to take part in the World Championships.”
The following applies in principle: The current entry regulations for Austria are decisive for entry. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participants in sporting events are subject to the currently valid entry regulations, Section 2, Paragraph 7 “Commercial traffic”. Athletes from other countries with a health certificate and a negative PCR test (the test must have been administered in the last 72 hours before arrival) can also travel to Austria. A mobile test station on site is intended to make it easier for athletes and staff members to travel home after the World Champs.
WATCH LIVE ON TV or be there as a volunteer
The Pump Track World Championship had to be canceled as there were too few qualifier events in advance, which made hosting the event impossible for the organizers. The World Championships must also take place with the exclusion of spectators on official instructions.
“Unfortunately, we have to do it without our numerous mountain bike enthusiasts, but we respect the decision of the authorities. The health of everyone involved and the implementation of the event are clearly in the foreground. In addition, we are in contact with TV broadcasters and streaming providers worldwide so that mountain bike fans can follow the action as it unfolds, from the comfort of their own homes. In Austria, for example, the races will be broadcasted on ORF Sport+ and on Red Bull TV”, says Pointner.
However, for a select few, there is still an opportunity to be at the World Championships in person: Saalfelden Leogang is looking forward to further volunteer help. Applications can be submitted at bikewm2020.com/de/Service-Info/volunteers.