When the Union Cycliste International (UCI) announced next year’s planned World Cup calendar, many were surprised not to see Mont-Sainte-Anne on the list. The iconic Quebec venue has hosted World Cups since the series started.
We talked to the event’s organizers at Gestev to find out what happened. We found out how MSA was left of UCI’s planned 2021 calendar. More importantly, we also find out when fans can expect to see Mont-Sainte-Anne return.
30 years of Mont-Sainte-Anne
In 2020, the Quebec stop was on the calendar, only to be cancelled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time in 30 years the venue didn’t make any appearance on the international calendar. The only other years MSA hasn’t hosted a World Cup, it’s hosted world championships. With three turns hosting world champs, most recently in 2019, Mont-Sainte-Anne has given out the elite XC and Downhill rainbow jersey’s more times than any other venue.
What happened for 2021?
Mont-Sainte-Anne’s absence from next year’s World Cup schedule was a choice forced by the UCI. According to Chantale Boivin, Deputy general manager of Gestev, the organizers of MSA World Cup, the UCI forced a decision between 2021 and the long viability of the event.
“When the UCI opened its big process for years 2021 and 2022 earlier this year, the OC [organizing committee] applied for both years,” Boivin shared. “At the end of the process, the OC was informed that it would not be possible to come to Canada for both years, and a one year contract for 2021 was offered.”
For Gestev, ensuring the event could continue past 2021 won out over the possibility of a quick return next year. The OC opted to bid for 2022, but with the promise to return for multiple years. Part of the 2022 agreement is a commitment from the UCI that Mont-Sainte-Anne would get a contract to return again in 2023.
Planning in the context of COVID
The ability to ensure the event would continue in future years is important. It makes it easier for Gestev to attract supporting partners and sponsors. But sponsors weren’t the only consideration. When publishing next year’s calendar, the UCI was careful to mention that it was still a “planned” calendar. The ongoing global pandemic still shrouds 2021 in a shadow of doubt. The decision not to try to rush a return to racing seems especially prudent.
“With the COVID situation, it was also risky to get a one year contract in 2021 without knowing how the situation will evolve,” says Boivin. While the bid process started months ago, the lack of resolution to the outbreak has made Boivin more confident they chose the right path. With where the world is now, she adds, “It was a sage decision to opt for 2022 and 2023.”
We’re all hoping the COVID pandemic will allow for World Cup racing return in 2021, even without Mont-Sainte-Anne. Whatever happens next year, Canadian mountain bike fans can look forward to the world returning to Quebec. In 2022, 2023 and, hopefully, for years to come.