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South African national champion Chris Brand eases his way down the easier line available to riders at the Over the Top section after officials closed the other options (in the background) at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

Despite many having successfully navigated the entire route, the testing lap’s final major obstacle – Over the Top – did however claim a few victims throughout the day and subsequently has had its A and B lines removed from the competition, only leaving the easiest C line available for participants to ride.

"It was an extremely difficult decision to make but unfortunately we felt it was necessary to reduce the Over the Top section to one line," explained UCI Chief Commissaire Joel Obodov.

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Nick Floros, course designer of the cross country course, has urged riders to ensure they chose the appropriate line through obstacles according to their ability at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

"Nick (Floros) and Nigel (Hicks) have put in an exceptional amount of thought, time and effort into creating these incredible courses but unfortunately, with the course having changed a fair bit over the past couple of days, we had to make the decision as riders' safety is paramount for the UCI," he added.

“Unfortunately Joel (Obodov) had to make the call yesterday evening after a few guys came off on the main lines of Over the Top,” explained Nick Floros, Cross Country course designer.

“It wasn’t a case of the course being too difficult but rather the fact that some of the riders went into the A and B lines due to there being a crowd at the bottom of the hill when they really ought to have been riding the C line.

“Safety is obviously of paramount importance for both us and the UCI though so we did however have to weigh things up and ultimately came to this decision,” he added.

With numerous features of the course have testing A lines or ‘bull runs’, all of these do also offer easier B or C lines or ‘chicken runs’ and competitors are encouraged to be realistic when assessing which option to take.

“We really urge all riders to be cautious when approaching an obstacle for the first time in training, assess the level required to complete it safely versus their own riding ability and then make an informed tactical decision from there as to which line to take,” added Floros.

“Everyone needs to bear in mind that this is the Masters World Championships that caters for a wide variety of riders and hence we have had to prepare a course that offers something both challenging enough for the ex-professional competitor as well as the more inexperienced, amateur or older rider.

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Nico Pfitzenmaier (Germany) makes the left-hand turn at the top of the Over the Top section of the cross country course after officials closed the other alternatives at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

“Therefore not every rider will be able to take on the toughest lines of every obstacle however choosing the slightly slower, safer option may well be the best option for some sometimes if it means they can stay on their bike and in the competition rather than running the risk of crashing and hurting themselves.”

Riders have also been advised to take note that no rider may interfere with another rider on course and hence, should a rider do so by walking down and A line, they will be penalised. Riders are able to walk down a B line, should they need to, without penalty.

Thursday 22 August sees the second of the official training day’s get underway for both cross country and downhill masters competitors at Cascades MTB Park with the first of the finals taking place on Friday morning.

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from21 to 25 August. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za

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Riders will instead tackle the log-drop section of the one and only line of the Over the Top section of the cross country course after officials closed the other alternatives at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media