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UCI changes World Cup to World Series and hints at broadcast details

Rebrand follows extensive rule changes

Photo by: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

After announcing extensive World Cup rule changes, including incorporating enduro and cross country marathon into the same structure, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is doing a major rebranding of its mountain bike series. The mountain bike World Cup is now the mountain bike World Series.

Along with the name change, UCI and Warner Bros Discovery finally shared how fans will be able to watch this “new” series. There are more clues as to what coverage will look like for different disciplines and hints at where Canadians will be able to watch live. Or, live-ish, at least.

World Cup or World Series?

UCI is making a big deal of announcing the World Series but the new name only applies to the collective of all disciplines. The new World Series website still refers to each individual discipline as World Cups, even the new additions in 2023 (Enduro and XCM).

The press release suggests that the World Series umbrella will allow opportunities for amateur athletes to participate in World Cup events. At this point, though, it only cites enduro and XC Marathon events as examples as how that will happen. Both of those formats already allowed for pro and amateur races to mix, or at least happen side by side, though, so its unclear if this is anything new or just not taking those opportunities away. It also doesn’t say if there is more such opportunities planned for the traditional World Cup disciplines.

Live broadcasts in Canada?

Warner Bros. Discovery owns a vast network of media titles, leaving mountain bike fans wondering where the World Cup Series will be shown in 2023. The latest press release, and new World Series website, gives some hints. The press release shares that it will be a mix of WBD’s titles.

RELATED: Mont-Sainte-Anne will host 2023 UCI World Cup XCO/DH finals

Discovery+ will handle live broadcasts in select European countries, with backup from the Eurosport App.

In the rest of the world, including Canada, fans will have to turn to GCN+ to see coverage of World Series racing.

What will World Series coverage look like?

As for what coverage will look like, there are a few more clues in the latest release. After touting that junior downhill racing will get broadcast coverage for the first time in the initial announcement, WBD and UCI are giving more clues as to what the rest of World Series broadcasts will look like. And its… maybe not that much different than last year.

World Cup XCO and short track (XCC) cross country and downhill still be broadcast live and on-demand. With some changes, given the new format of World Cup downhill, but still live coverage.

RELATED: Inside the UCI’s (extensive) new rule changes

The newer arrivals, Enduro, XC Marathon and E-Enduro, will only get highlight shows according to the World Series website. That’s new for XCM. But its pretty much what GCN+ was already doing for Enduro when it was Enduro World Series. With enduro races being compressed to a single day of racing for 2023, from the usual two-day format of the EWS, it could actually be less coverage than last year. Hopefully not, as we want to see as much of EWS champion Jesse Melamed’s racing as possible.

The World Series website does add that “more ways to watch will be announced in the coming months,” though, so here’s hoping that means more coverage in North America, not just Europe.

RELATED: UCI makes sweeping changes to World Cup racing

Here’s the full press release from the UCI.

Melamed flying while flying the Canadian sleeve. Photo: Dave Trumpmore

UCI Press Release:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) are pleased to announce the new UCI Mountain Bike World Series, which will include the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup for cross-country Olympic (XCO), cross-country short track (XCC), cross-country marathon (XCM), downhill (DHI), enduro (EDR) and E-enduro (E-EDR).

The UCI Mountain Bike World Series will unite all mountain bike’s major formats under a single brand for the first time. The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup will be the pinnacle of this new structure, that will enable all formats to flourish independently but also sit side by side at select rounds and give athletes and teams additional exposure.

The UCI Mountain Bike World Series will also provide opportunities for amateurs and those seeking to break onto the Elite stage. Amateur XCM, EDR and E-EDR racing at some events will enable amateurs to compete alongside their sporting heroes, while providing a clear pathway to the highest level of the sport for aspiring athletes in the quest of qualifying points to progress into the Elite ranks.

This alignment of formats and racing will be perfectly showcased in September in Les Gets, Morzine and Châtel (France), hosts of the first ten-day UCI Mountain Bike World Series festival. Featuring all the major UCI Mountain Bike World Cup formats, as well as amateur racing, the festival will set the benchmark for this new era for the mountain bike.

With one of the world’s biggest sports broadcasters behind the UCI Mountain Bike World Series, there will be more live coverage and more ways to follow racing than ever before. UCI World Cup XCO, XCC and DHI events from the UCI Mountain Bike World Series will be available live and on-demand on discovery+*, the Eurosport App and globally on GCN+. UCI World Cup XCM, EDR and E-EDR will benefit from in-depth Highlights Shows at every round. More ways to watch will be announced in the coming months.

UCI President David Lappartient said: “The global popularity of mountain bike is on the rise, and by combining all its major formats as well as racing for Elite and amateur riders in one major series, we will further increase the appeal of this discipline. With its festival atmosphere, mix of racing and expanded live coverage, the UCI Mountain Bike World Series offers a fresh and appealing experience for athletes, hardened fans and newcomers to the mountain bike community.”

Chris Ball, CEO of ESO Sports, said: “By creating a single global platform that unifies the major racing formats with UCI World Cup status for the first time, the new UCI Mountain Bike World Series will also allow for the integration and growth of amateur, pathway and festival events to UCI World Cup racing.

“Our long-term goal is to elevate the major racing formats of the UCI World Cup, taking the athletes and teams to a new level. We also want to maintain the ability to entertain and engage mountain bikers at all levels. The future is incredibly exciting and we are honoured to usher in a new era of the sport.”

More information about the UCI Mountain Bike World Series is available here.

* Streaming is available on discovery+ in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK and Ireland.