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The Pietermaritzburg leg of the 2014 UCI World Cup calendar, from 11 to 13 April will form the first leg of the international MTB season consisting of nine World Cups leading to the World Championships in Norway in September.

The Cascades MTB Park event will include the familiar Cross Country and Downhill disciplines, but won't include the Eliminator discipline introduced to the Pietermaritzburg fans at last year's World Championships. Pietermaritzburg first hosted a leg of the UCI MTB World Cup circuit in 2009, and again in 2011 and 2012, before staging the World Championships last year.

The cross country course designed by Nick Floros for the World Championships and the Downhill course designed by Nigel Hicks will once again be used for the World Cup events, with only minor adjustments to both layouts envisaged. It's exciting to be heading into a fifth season of international Mountain Bike events at The Cascades MTB Park," said event director Alec Lenferna.

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Image credit: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

"We have shown over the years that we are capable of organising events to the highest global standards, and our courses have been uniformly praised as some of the best in the world.

"It is great to hear from the riders themselves that they look forward to coming back to Pietermaritzburg because of the high standards of the course and the warm hospitality they enjoy here," he added.

The region was ideally suited to events of this scale because it had the infrastructure to cater for the riders, support teams and fans, said Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness, who also serves as the event organising committee president.

"The city has the capacity in terms of bed nights to accommodate all the teams and riders relatively close to the course," said Veness. "The incoming participants bring a significant injection into the regional economy, which we are excited about."

"But just as exciting is the value of the positive image of Pietermaritzburg that is projected all over the world, both as a tourist destination, a city that hosts sporting events to the highest standards, and a region that recognises the value of sporting events."

UCI Mountain Bike Calendar 2014

10-13 April UCI World Cup XCO/DHI Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

24-27 April UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Cairns, Australia

23-25 May UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/Jnr XCO Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic

30 May-1 June UCI World Cup XCO/XCE - UCI Junior Series XCO Albstadt, Germany

7-8 June UCI World Cup DHI Fort William, Great Britain

14-15 June UCI World Cup DHI Leogang, Austria

29 June UCI Marathon World Championships Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

31 Junly-3 August UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada

7-10 August UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Windham, USA

21-24 August UCI World Cup XCO/XCE/DHI Méribel, France

2-7 September UCI XCO/XCE/XCR/DHI World Championships Hafjel, Norway