UCI Mountain Bike World Championships: Behind the Scenes - The UCI Technical Delegates
An event as complicated as UCI World Championships or World Cups requires many individuals to make sure it operates smoothly. For mountain biking, two of these individuals are the UCI Technical Delegates (TDs) for downhill (DHI) and Olympic Cross-country (XCO).
At the UCI World Championships and on the UCI World Cup circuit, the DHI TD and the XCO TD can be recognized by their red shirts, as they work with organizers, teams and riders, the media and television, before and during each competition, to ensure everything works as it is supposed.
The DHI TD since 2013 has been David Vazquez of Spain. Vazquez knows the sport well, having raced on the international circuit from 1996 to 2009. His results include both Spanish and European titles, as well as winning UCI World Cups and multiple podium appearances.
David says his role entails working with organizers, officials, teams and riders to make sure all technical requirements are met, especially those relating to safety. This involves everything to walking the course multiple times to ensure it is up to the standard required for international events, checking that safety zones are correct, reviewing evacuation plans in case of crashes, inspecting the start and finish zones, TV camera positions, the Hot Seat, etc.
"I love doing it because downhill racing is what I have grown up doing since I was 12 years old," says David. "It is the biggest passion I've ever had, so to be in such contact with the world's top downhill racing is a dream come true. And it's important, because the UCI needs somebody that has been racing and understands all the requirements an event needs from a rider's perspective."
On the XCO side, David's equivalent is Beat Wabel of Switzerland. Beat's palmares are equally impressive to David's - a former cyclo-cross and mountain bike racer, Beat was the Junior cyclo-cross UCI World Champion, a mountain bike UCI World Cup winner, and represented his country at the introduction of mountain biking to the Olympics, in 1996.
Beat has worked for 15 years with the UCI as a TD in both mountain bike and cyclo-cross.
"I'm responsible for the sport aspect of the event," Beat explains, " particularly the course and everything that is linked to the venue. I check the course for safety for the riders, spectators, TV and photographers. This includes the course marking, the start and finish zones with all their special areas [call up zone, start / finish line, TV / photographer zone, flower ceremony area], the technical pit zone and the 80% zone."
"As a former rider I have the experience on what is possible for the course - what is rideable, what is interesting and challenging for the riders, but also what is good for spectators, TV and photographers. I make sure everybody can do their job. It's important to make everybody happy but it's difficult."