The UCI downhill World Cup will see its quietest Fort William round ever.
Fort William has earned its iconic status on the World Cup downhill schedule.
A race with unquestionable legacy, much of what makes Fort William such a special round of the downhill racing calendar, are its spectators.
Loyal mountain bike fans descend upon the quiet Scottish village in their thousands on race weekend. They line the track and vocally validate each race run.
Organisers of the Fort William World Cup downhill round, which is due to be run on the weekend of 22-23 May, have now confirmed that spectating will not be allowed.
The reality of empty stadiums has been an aspect of the new normal in many team sports, but there were hopes that by the end of May, an outdoor spectating venue would allow for limited attendance. This will not be the case.
Organisers have been transparent about the barriers to hosting an event, during lockdown. “We continue to work with the UCI and relevant authorities to find a way of running the World Cup behind closed doors but this still presents numerous challenges that are, as yet, unresolved.”
An opportunity to improve the live streaming experience
Vaccinations and the trend toward lower case loads should allow the Fort William downhill event to happen and most international riders entry. For spectators, it will be a live stream experience – at best.
Those dedicated Fort William racing fans who currently hold tickets will be allowed to carry their event credit into 2022. Refunds are available, too.
Fans will be justifiably disappointment but with riders and teams desperate to race, the actual event could be a classic Fort William humdinger.
Are there any potential positives for fans? Without any crowds, expect some very innovative camera positions, which could make the race footage even more exciting than any previous year. Those who love raw audio of a downhill bike descending (all of us, right?), could also be spoilt with a treasure of mechanical acoustics during the race runs, undiluted by crowd noise.