The first mountain bike competitions were held in California (USA) in the early eighties. Since then the discipline has grown very fast, in all aspects. The first World Championships to be officially recognized by the UCI dates back to 1990. A World Cup was set up the following year.
Downhill (also referred to as DHI) is a race against the clock in which the rider negotiates a succession of fast and technical passages. The participant must demonstrate courage as well as sharp technical and piloting skills in order to affront tree roots, banked sections, bumps, jumps and other natural obstacles along the way. Speeds reach around 80km/h in the men’s races and 70km/h for women.
In four-cross (often abbreviated to “4-cross” or “4X”), four participants set off together to ride down a track that alternates banked corners and jumps. The races are very rapid (between 30 seconds and one minute) and give rise to fierce and closely contested confrontations between the riders. The winner is the first to cross the finish line. The four-cross races take place over several qualifying rounds.