2024 Venue Focus: Araxá, Minas Gerais, Brazil


2024 Venue Focus: Araxá, Minas Gerais, Brazil

5 months ago

You know the old saying, ‘If you wait for a bus long enough then two will come along at once’? In 2024 the UCI Mountain Bike World Series will kick off with the Endurance athletes continuing their Brazilian escapades at round two in Araxá, Minas Gerais.

Yet again, there will be  Cross-country Olympic (XCO)  and Cross-country Short Track (XCC) racing a plenty and with the first round of the season well and truly in the not-so-recent history books, all eyes will turn to yet another level playing field. 

Where is it?

The second venue of the year is located roughly seven hours north of the first, Mairiporã. Araxá is a municipality in the Western Minas Gerais region in the south of the country. Its highest point is 973m above sea level and its population stands at just over 107,000 people. 

For those racers feeling the inevitable strain of their return to action the weekend before there is some good news - Araxá is famous for its spa and wellness facilities. At its heart is the Grande Hotel Termas de Araxá. First opened in 1944, the sprawling resort put the region on the map highlighting its medicinal mud and mineral waters.  

Has there been racing here before?

Yes - plenty of it too! The venue celebrated 20 years of UCI-level international racing this year and it’s set to start its third decade with a UCI World Cup debut. The course which winds its way through the forest to the rear of the main resort building is well ridden with some of the most epic bar-to-bar battles in Brazil’s top flight having been duked out around it. 

What’s the track like?

The track is cut into the forest itself and features a good mix of flatter, power-sapping high speed sections and fast, natural descending through the trees. The general slant is a bit more towards the technical and it can become a handful should the fast rolling red clay become drenched. 

What else can we expect?

Just as with the previous round, crowds! Despite there being over six hours hours between the two opening venues, South America is mad for mountain bike racing and as such the organisers are expecting a sell-out crowd across the week. The region’s focus on tourism means that there is plenty of on-site infrastructure to support such a crowd and the slightly further flung location (compared to round one) should ensure that there’s a ‘pilgrimage’ aspect to attract the hardest of hardcore race fans. Expect noise. 

Who are the favourites?

For many seasoned UCI World Cup fans, the second round of the year is often the most interesting because it can be about one of two things; tightening a grip or a strong response. The UCI Enduro World Cup traditionally started with two big ‘fly away’ rounds and those who could board their flights home with the most points in the bank were often in the driving seats for the rest of the first half of the season. 

Winning at round one is always huge, but backing it up or, conversely, fighting back is also crucial. It’s of course impossible to say just who will come out on top in Araxá but in 2022 it was Loana Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV) and Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM MTB Racing) who took top honours at the second round in Lenzerheide, Switzerland in XCO. 

They would finish the year in second and first places respectively in the overall. Over the course of the season every point matters and on leaving Brazil, the big guns will want to have amassed as many of them as possible.  

Click here to buy tickets for the UCI World Cup in Araxá, Brazil!

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