Lopes and the UCI XC Eliminator

Hey Lee,

Have you seen any of the XCE? Brian hasn’t been winning everything, but he has been making people look like fools.

Very cool to see him in action again. Such a racer. I love how calculated everything is, the way he runs people wide, covers lines and how he seems to know exactly how hard to go to secure 2nd place in a heat. I’ve never really liked dropper seat posts, but the way Brian uses his is really clever: down for starts, short straights, corners, stairs, climbs, descents, obstacles and sprint finishes and up for the odd long flat section.

The way they start these races though is a joke.

Hope you guys are all well,

Chris Q in Australia


Yeah man, I have seen some of the XC Eliminator races.

What is XC Eliminator?

XC Eliminator is sort of a 4X for XC racers. The courses resemble very short short tracks. Racers race four at a time, with winners advancing to the final heat. I think this is the UCI’s attempt to create a spectator/sponsor friendly race format.

Check out this video from the first round in Houffalize. So far this seems like the most mountain-bikey track. Check out Brian’s pull at 1:30. He added another World Cup win to his long list.

That Lopes guy

Brian Lopes is clearly one badass bike-riding dude. No question about that. Nobody in the world has his combination of experience, tactics, skills and — now that he’s an XC weenie — pedaling fitness. Completely amazing that I outperformed him in our last Feats of Strength. (Brian is about to fly his helicopter to Boulder and kick my butt).

Check out Lopes’ XC Eliminator bike at VitalMTB.

Speaking of XC Eliminator:

Bike magazine ran a condemnation of the event, — Why the XC Eliminator is bad for mountain biking — but I don’t see things that clearly.

• From a practical standpoint, if promoters can create events that help feed their families, I support that.

• Any bike event that brings in money and gets exposure is a good thing. You can get as pure and hardcore as you want, but someone has to pay the bills.

• XCE might not be the ultimate solution, but it’s good to see the UCI trying new things.

• Course quality has been, uh, what’s the euphemism? … inconsistent. As a businessperson, designer and builder, I understand a bit about how these things work. Someone has to create a course using certain terrain in a certain amount of time with a certain amount of money and various other limitations that vary with the event (We have to ride down the steps in front of the famous cathedral? Got it. Stay off the grass because we have a wine festival next week? Got it.). Anyone who is dogmatic about this stuff has not dealt with real-world product deliveries.

• One issue with 4X was the very high cost of building awesome tracks. That’s a whole lot of material, and there are usually constraints with time, money and land use. Not to mention intelligence, creativity and work ethic.

• Is the UCI awesome, or does it suck? I don’t know. I’m sure some good people are trying to do great things, but that they are limited by time, money, politics, etc., etc. Again, anyone who is dogmatic about this stuff has never worked in the real world.

• Sponsors want a strong return on investment. Promoters want to run profitable events. Spectators want to see cool action. Racers want to win. Former 4X racers want huge jumps; dirt roadies want sustained climbs. I have never heard the winner say a course sucks. Back in the day, we did probably the lamest DH race on the Grapevine in SoCal. It was basically straight dirt road with a long, flat pedaling section. I crushed it — and so I loved the course!

As for Brian, he is a competitor, and I’m happy to see him mixing it up. It’s also cool to see how one of the classic pros is using new tools like the dropper post. If XCE gets the go-ahead for next year, let’s hope for great things.

If your trail or course is to “easy,” try riding it faster!


Know more. Have more fun!

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5 replies
  1. Matt B says:

    Speaking of 4X track construction costs (monetary, environmental, etc.): BMX tracks and motocross tracks can persist for years, sometimes decades, hosting major events (like the MX outdoor nationals) but also open during large parts of the year for local events that keep the place running and provide something back to the area that supports the track. Why is this not the case with World Cup/high level 4X? I’ve begun racing BMX on what’s ostensibly a dual slalom mountain bike (which is fun!), but it bugs me that world cup level tracks have been constructed and dismantled the world over, when my area (Norcal) has no 4X and slalom three days a year at Sea Otter. Thoughts?

  2. Aussie Chris says:

    I found that ‘Bike Magazine’ article very scary. Well, not the article itself, but the photos of Lopes’ quads!

  3. WAKi says:

    After what I saw on that vid from Houffalize I promise to man up… I am thinking to write to SRAM that they can shuffle that new XX1 drivetrain with 42t rear sprocket up their… noses, I think I’ll install my 11-26 cassette to my 1×9 drivetrain on my HT

  4. Jakub says:

    “One issue with 4X was the very high cost of building awesome tracks.”

    But most of the WC 4x tracks already exist and actually XCE tracks are to be built! Besides, I guess that 4x tracks are created because people want to ride those, not because there is going to be a world cup around (at least that’s what I see in my country) and thus I don’t understand why do UCI care about it? New tracks shall grow either way.

    Anyway, isn’t creating XCE tracks (NEW tracks, I guess) expensive too? And are they more environmentally-friendly? I think that these arguments from UCI about not supporting 4x anymore are just the lies (can they afford new XCE tracks?)…
    As for the event itself, for me it is just BORING (especially when compared to spectacular 4cross), the start is a joke (where’s the “fair-play” rule if each person get slighty different start? couldn’t they at least incorporate bmx gate-starts?) and high-profile XC guys rather won’t race it a day before the main XC race. That’s why I can’t understand the reason to abandon 4cross for XCE. It’s like the version for old guys or for those who don’t have the guts to race in full-face helmets.

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