KATHMANDU, Jan 15: The International Cycling Union (UCI) has approved Nepal for hosting a race during the World Championship Series in 2012. Nepal Cycling Association (NCA) President Chimi Orgen Gurung said on Saturday that the UCI has given the green signal and if things go well Nepal will be hosting one out of the nine series in the World Championship Series.
In a tune up to the event, Kathmandu Bike Station organized the First Xtreme MTB Downhill Championship 2011 at Shivapuri National Park on Saturday.
The downhill race conducted under the technical assistance of NCA started from Nagi Gumba, stretched over the steep 2.45 km terrain and concluded at Taulung VDC, Budhanilkantha.
Karma Lodey, an amateur rider from Bhutan who participated in the race, said the track was "very technical" and of international standard.
"It was interesting - an adrenalin rush!" he exclaimed.
Lodey, who plans to introduce downhill racing in Bhutan, said the sport is for people who seek extreme adventure.
Winner of Saturday´s race Shajjan Rajbanshi, who is here on a three-month vacation from the US, said the tough route will help raise the standard of Nepali cyclists as the country gears up to host the world championships.
Unlike other cyclists, national player Rajbanshi made it to the finish line without a fall. He had earlier trained the other participants before the race kicked off.
"Nepal will become a mountain biking state in five years´ time. The country is naturally rich with mountains and there is good scope for mountain biking here," he said.
Nepal -- a home to breathtaking mountains -- can live up to the name by hosting the world championship race, after having successfully organized the Asian Downhill Championship in 2008.
However, his dream will come true only if mountain biking receives proper support and promotion from all sectors.
The task of hosting the world championship event is daunting for Nepal in the absence of proper infrastructure and we might lose this opportunity.
Gurung said that NCA alone cannot host such a big event.
"The state should lend support to host events of international level. We will try to the best of our abilities to carry out the world championship," he said.
According to Gurung, lack of physical infrastructure and a permanent race course are the major setbacks for mountain biking in Nepal.
"It´s difficult to organize tournaments when we do not have race tracks. We often face opposition from locals and this time we had to pay a huge sum to the national park. We are looking for a proper place but the government has not provided us any support," he added.
Gurung also informed that the UCI has given them an option to host the world championships in 2014 if they fail to do it next year.
Rajbanshi beats 22 riders
Shajjan Rajbanshi beat 22 riders, including 10 foreign nationals, to claim first position in the First Xtreme MTB Downhill Championship 2011, with a timing of 5 minutes and 34 seconds. Rebours Tangi of France finished second clocking 00:06:33 while Tenzing Gurung claimed third position with 00:06:39.
The race was the first of the three series in the First National Downhill Series. The second race will be held at the Hattiban, Lalitpur on February 12 and the third in Pokhara in March.
The race was organized to promote Nepal as a destination for mountain biking on the occasion of Nepal Tourism Year 2011.
The winner of the series will get an opportunity to participate in the Mega Avalanche Downhill Championship to be held in France in July. The bike company Commencal will sponsor the trip to France.