Mondraker has announced that all UCI World Cup Downhill and World Championship Downhill events in 2022 will begin only after the completion of a Track Safety Check to be performed by UCI Technical Delegate, Jorge Garcia, aboard a custom-wrapped Mondraker Summum. Jorge will certify and check the safety of each course before the participants take to the track.
Jorge García, the UCI Technical Delegate commented, “Improving safety in a sport like DH is not easy. You must consider a lot of factors and variables. Even with a thousand eyes on it, walking the circuit 15 times in a week isn’t enough. A jump that looks perfect, tested at the real speed the riders are going through, can turn into a very dangerous jump. That’s how it really is, until it’s tested in action you can’t see where there are potentially dangerous spots”.
We can’t help but think back to Reece Wilson’s spectacular crash at Les Gets last season, which saw him tumble off into several spectators at the side of the track.
So, what is a technical delegate? We got in touch with Jorge to find out more.
His role is not one of a commissaire. He does not deal in rule making or or enforcement. He takes care of the riders and spectators with regard to safety. As the UCI Technical Delegate, Jorge will look to improve on what the organizers have put in place when they get to the event location, one or two days prior to when riders are allowed on course to do their own walking inspection.
Initially, Jorge carries out his own walking inspection alongside his assistant Joe Martins, the course organizer, as well as the Marshall Coordinator. Together they check everything, including Jumps, B-Zones and padding on the trees.
Interview: Jorge García, UCI Technical Delegate at World Cup DH
Bikerumor: What prompted the UCI to introduce this new on-bike safety check?
Jorge García: It seemed a good idea to everyone. Working to improve the safety for the riders and the spectators, it is a good idea to check it [the course] properly on a bike, not just walking because it is a different way of seeing a track, as you can imagine.
Bikerumor: What in particular will you be looking out for on your runs?
Jorge García: So, absolutely everything. Mainly test what the riders also say if there is something that they say. Mainly test myself what they say needs to be changed or not. Also check that the paddings are in place. We ask the organizer to implement it on time. I will check the B-Zones are all in place. There are many things like start gate, distance of the braking zone at the finish. There are many things I have to be checking every single day.
Bikerumor: Do you expect to actually change the DH tracks prior to the race start?
Jorge García: We normally do. This past year it has been based mainly on changing the poles and tape. We came just two or three days before the race so it is hard to change big things but obviously you can see the Downhill World Cup is getting faster and faster and the main issue that we have is that. We have been trying to slow down the courses, changing the course with tape and poles, like probably do chicanes or tighter turns. Because sometimes the organizers give us a course that is too wide open and it is too fast so we are trying to slow it down. That makes it safer.
Bikerumor: How many seasons will the Mondraker-UCI partnership continue?
Jorge García: There is no partnership between the UCI and Mondraker, and there is no partnership between Mondraker and me. I needed a bike to check the courses. Just because, from a long time ago, I know people from Mondraker. I told them I needed to find a bike to perform this job. They liked the idea, and they wanted to help myself, and to help the safety of the work. They helped me out with this project to check the courses better, with the bike, and that’s it. There is no partnership between the UCI and Mondraker.
Bikerumor: How will you approach your safety check runs? Full speed ahead, or 80%?
Jorge García: Obviously, if I need to check a jump, or if I need to test something that needs to be tested at race speed, I will push for what I can. Obviously I am not on a race pace frame now that could be compared to the top riders but normally my safety runs will be just safe runs, just chilling. Not based on their riding, based on checking what needs to be checked. See if poles need to be replaced, or put back where they belong. Probably, prior to the race I will do a full run just checking a bit of everything but it wont be a race pace run.
Bikerumor: How many Safety Check runs will you perform per event?
Jorge García: Normally, in past years I was doing about three walking inspections per day. Now with the bike, probably I will be doing the training. I will do two or three riding inspections, and just a couple walking.