Pietermaritzburg resident Nick Floros has been tasked with designing the cross country course for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
CASCADES MTB Park crosscountry (XCO) course designer Nick Floros became the first man to test the course for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games when he journeyed to Brazil last week.
Floros, according to a post on International Cycling Union (UCI) technical delegate Simon Burney’s Twitter account, is the man behind the building of the course, which Burney termed “awesome”.
Through hard work and an innate feeling and eye for what will challenge and thrill competitors, the Hilton College Old Boy has earned a sterling reputation as an XCO course designer, with the Cascades MTB Park rated as one of the top three XCO courses in the world by the UCI.
Less known, mostly due to his humble nature, is the fact that Floros was one of the founders of the Nedbank sani2c, an event that set a new standard for stage races, resulting in other events having to up their games, which helped to boost the sport of mountain biking.
Due to the terms of Floros’s contract, the Pietermaritzburg resident is not allowed to discuss the Rio course with the media, but Burney, who is the UCI’s sports coordinator for XCO mountain bike, revealed some information about the Olympic Games course’s design on his Twitter account.
“Rio course has pretty much got it all,” he wrote. “Tech ups/downs, two climbs — first is fast, second close to one kilometre long. It’ll be fast, hard, techy, hot, fun!”
Posting a number of photographs, starting with Floros kitted out on a mountain bike on the course, Burney added: “It’s got big diggers and trucks. It’s got tunnels. It’s got grass. It’s got rocks. And it’s got a chuffing big hill.” A test event for the Rio XCO course is scheduled for October 11.
One thing XCO fans can count on is that the course is going to test the world’s leading riders thoroughly, if one learns about Floros’s philosophy.
“If there is one characteristic that I would like to have throughout my courses, it is that they are aimed at the top five people in the field, trying to create a challenge for them, and trying to work out who the best out of those top five are,” Floros told The Witness yesterday.
“My crosscountry courses are not aimed at the masses. They are aimed at trying to separate the best people on the day. Whatever the event — World Cup, World Championships, marathons — it is always the same, you’re aiming [the design of the course] at the top five riders.”
Alec Lenferna has organised many UCI XCO World Cup and World Championships events with Floros as his course designer and holds him in high regard. “Nick is certainly one of the best builders in the world. There is no doubt about that,” he said.
“With the facilities that we have here in Pietermaritzburg, he has really done an exceptional job.”
Floros’s courses, Lenferna added, produce the right results.
“He puts a challenging course together, and one that provides us with a fair result. My main brief to Nick is that whoever climbs up onto the podium should know that they deserve to be on the podium, and everyone else who is not on the podium should know that the people on the podium deserve to be there.”
With Cascades as his palette, Floros has put together an incredible network of cycling paths and XCO tests in the forests.
Watching as a spectator from a distance, it is impressive. Journeying into the forests for the first time to discover all the hard work that has gone into creating a mountain bike dream world to rival any other one in the world is eyeopening.
Citing another of Floros’s outstanding attributes, Lenferna added: “He’s also good at designing courses at which the level of competition is. Obviously the World Cups and World Championships are for the best riders in the world. Within that, you have women, who don’t necessarily do some of the stuff that the men do, and then you’ve got juniors, who don’t do some of the stuff that the women do, so you need to design for different things.
“That is one of the beauties of Cascades. It allows us to have all of these different types of competition at one venue.”
While Cascades continues to be Nick Floros’s labour of love, it is now one that has helped him earn the accolade of Olympic Games XCO mountain bike course designer.
Source: Brad Morgan/The Witness