Scotland’s premier mountain biking event named best in the world
The Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup in the Scottish Highlands has won international recognition after being declared the best in the world.
This year’s annual competition, the 15th since it was launched in Scotland’s outdoor capital in 2001, was voted the Best Downhill World Cup event by cycling’s international governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), following a record-breaking year for downhill racing in Scotland.
Almost 22,000 fans witnessed Great Britain’s Rachel Atherton and South Africa’s Greg Minnaar win the women’s and men’s events last June in what has been described by many as one of the most memorable downhill world cups in the sport’s history.
Organisers Rare Management are now gearing up for the 2017 scheduled to take place over two days, 3-4 June.
As well as drawing record crowds, who experienced stunning gravity action in glorious sunshine, the 15th Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup won over UCI voters for its uncompromising downhill course on the slopes of Aonach Mor, its event organisation and unique atmosphere which included emotional farewells to legendary riders of the sport.
To add to the accolades, there was a Hall of Fame award at the recent Mountain Biking Scotland conference, recognising the inspiration and the profile it has generated for the sport.
Event organiser, Mike Jardine from Rare Management, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won international recognition as the UCI’s Best World Cup event for 2016. This accolade is a huge boost to the event’s profile as we launch Early Bird ticket sales for the 2017 World Cup, and it cements Scotland and the Highland’s world-class reputation and status as a bike-friendly destination for visitors from across the globe.
“This year’s event was very special and surpassed all our expectations. The award is testament to the hard work of all of our partners, sponsors, riders, volunteers and fans who continue to make this event a truly legendary and unique experience for all the family.”
Supported by EventScotland and the Highland Council, it’s the 10th time the event has won the Best Downhill World Cup award. In total it has won 29 UK and International awards since 2002.
Taking place at the Nevis Range ski area, 9km from Fort William, it is regarded a must-see event on the Scottish sporting calendar and continues to bring a huge financial boost to Highland tourism delivering an estimated £33m to the economy since 2002.
“It’s great to see that the accolades just keep coming for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William, which has undoubtedly been one of the leading events to take place in Scotland for a number of years,” said Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland.
“Its selection as the Downhill World Cup of the Year, as well as its induction to the Scottish Mountain Biking Hall of Fame, is indicative of its popularity among the mountain biking fraternity and the general public.”
Highland Council has supported the event from the beginning and the local area has reaped the rewards, both financially and personally.“It’s been an inspiration to local kids who have since gone on to become some of the top riders in similar events across the world,” said Councillor Thomas MacLennan, Leader of the Lochaber Committee.
“The team do a terrific job in not only maximising the economic benefits to local businesses but also raising the profile of the sport. As the crowds grow bigger each year, so too does the reputation of the whole Lochaber area. Mountain bike enthusiasts of all abilities visit our forest trails year round and relish the chance to compare how the world’s best tackle the purpose built courses they ride.”