The Stihl SA XCO Cup Series is made up of five events in 2016, with four of those events carrying a UCI category 1 rating for Pro Elite Men and Women and one event carrying a UCI Category 2 rating. A Full Racing License is required to participate in the Pro Elite categories.

The opening round of the Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series will be hosted at the Mankele MTB Park Mpumalanga on Saturday 30 January. Photo: Craig Dutton /

For the Junior riders, the Mankele race doubles up as the opening round of the esteemed UCI Junior World Series, where Juniors are able to earn UCI points as part of their own World Series to qualify and get seeded for the 2016 UCI MTB World Championships in Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE) from 28 June to 3 July. Cycling South Africa has already received the entry applications of three Junior riders from the Swiss National Team – Dario Gemperle, Nick Baumann and Lucas Strittmatter – who are eager to get their competitive season underway early in the South African sun for vital UCI points.

Cycling SA has managed to obtain the rights to host three UCI Junior World Series races for the 2016 season, these being SA MTB Cup Series #1 in Mpumalanga (30 January), PMB MTB Festival (30 April) and SA MTB Cup Series #4 in Eastern Cape (14 May). A Full Racing License is required to participate in the Junior categories.

While the main focus will be on the Pro Elite riders in the lead up to the Rio Olympic Games and the Junior riders in the UCI Junior World Series, attention will also be on the riders of all age categories who compete towards the Stihl 2016 SA XCO Cup Series title. Riders wanting to compete in the National Cup Series are required to be in possession of a Full Racing License, which is for riders from the age of 15-years-old who wish to be eligible for provincial and national selection and respective colours award. The bearer of a Full Racing License is entitled to partake in national championship or series race and be seeded accordingly. Those of who race in the UCI categories (Junior, U23 and Elite) earn UCI points, which will assist them in being seeded at future UCI category events, World Cups and World Championships. The cost of a full racing license is R350 per year over and above the Cycling SA membership of R150, and the applicant has to be member of an affiliated club. These applications can be done simultaneously. Click here to purchase your Full Racing License: For those riders under 15 years of age, and those in the Masters categories who are NOT interested in competing towards the National Series title nor ranking, a Cycling SA membership (R150) is the minimum requirement to participate.

Mark Meyer and his team at Mankele anticipate the arrival of this year’s National Cup Series participants. Mpumalanga’s mountain biking haven, Mankele MTB Park, is busy ensuring that their immaculate trail network – famous or their bush tunnels, boardwalks and berms – is in pristine condition for Cycling SA’s first national event of the year. A lap consists of just under 5km, containing all the good sections are included: Burry’s Rock Garden, Geoff Bridges, Slippery Snake, Triple B, Mamba Koppie and the famous Tar Killer Climb. The course lends itself to fast times and has two tech zones close to the start area.

Online pre-entries are open, and close on Tuesday 26 January 2016 at midnight. Click here to enter: Late entries will be accepted at registration, with a nominal charge of R50 in addition to the entry fee.

For event information, please visit, or contact Mark Meyer on 078 801 0453 (for event info); or Dellah Paul on 082 781 5656 (for administration info).