Types of MTB races


Everywhere we hear about different MTB races, from XCO to marathon, from DH to Enduro and also about less known ones such as XCI or XCP. We will try to explain each type of race as UCI ( Union Cycliste Internationale) sees them. Of course, most of the races are the Cross Country (XC) ones.

XCO (Olympic Cross Country) is a race in which riders are released in groups. It takes place on a special circuit, over 4-10 km with a duration of about 2 hours. The contestants have to cover a number of laps and the race is over when the first contestant finishes the track. It is the most popular form of race and is present even in the summer olympics.

XCM (Cross Country Marathon) is a race in which the riders are released in groups. The circuit has between 60 and 160 km, with a duration of 3 hours tops. It is the most popular race for amateur riders.


XCC (Cross Country Short Circuit) is a race on a short circuit of 2 km and a duration of less than 60 minutes.

XCE (Cross Country Eliminator) is a race in which riders are released in groups of 4 or 6, on a short circuit of maximum 1000 m. The fastest riders get to the next round while the slower ones are eliminated from the race. The circuit can be spectacular with artificial obstacles placed on the way.

3maxresdefaultXCS (Cross Country Stage Race) is a race with several stages. Different races are permitted with the exception of XCE. The favoured ones are XCP and XCT races.

XCP (Point-to-point Cross Country) is a race that starts in one place and ends in another, in which riders are released in group. The circuit is smaller than that of a marathon.

XCT (Cross Country Time Trial) is a race against the clock and only takes place during an XCS.

XCR (Cross Country Relay) as the name says is a relay race, between teams that include a junior rider, an U23, a male and a woman elite racer. Each covers a single round on XCO track. The order of participation is decided by each team’s strategy.

Regarding the gravity segment we have several disciplines:

4boice_progrtportangeles09_0126The best known is DH (Downhill), that is DHI (individual start) or DHM (group start). The most famous format, also seen at World Cup and World Championships is DHI, on a track of 3500 m long and a duration of 5 minutes tops. Interesting is the fact that UCI forbids the XC riders’ equipment and the video cameras installed on their helmets or bikes.

4X (Four Cross) is a downhill test on a technical track where the riders are released in groups of 4 and has a duration of 60 seconds tops.

Joost Wichman firmly in the lead through the rock garden.
Joost Wichman firmly in the lead through the rock garden.

Dual Slalom is a downhill test in which two riders start at the same time on two relatively identical routes. Today this type of race is no longer included in UCI’s list.

Enduro is the most popular type of gravity test. This takes place on a long track that contains both transitional areas (usually uphill) and timed areas (downhill). The contestants must cover the entire track, but they are timed only in the areas established from the very beginning. Lately this is one of the most popular MTB disciplines.

6st_cb_day4_1Trial is sometimes considered a MTB discipline, but in fact it is a separate thing altogether with special bikes and techniques, even UCI considers it as completely separate discipline.This race includes the covering of a track with big obstacles, implying a lot of technical jumping and equilibrium.

7161132_8-lg-hdDJ (Dirt Jumping) is also a discipline derived from MTB. There are races of this type, but they take place without UCI’s approval. It takes place on a special track with platforms, involving a lot of jumping and tricks. Similar to this race is Pump Track.

8maxresdefault-124h MTB are races that take place during a 24 hours circuit, the winner is the one that covers the biggest number of laps. This also has no UCI approvement but is becoming extremely popular.

MTB-O (Mountain Bike Orienteering) is a race similar to foot orienteering that implies navigation tactics. As the biker reaches higher speed, map reading becomes more challenging.

102010_mtbo1_631Further information can be found on UCI web page: http://www.uci.ch/mountain-bike/