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And So It Begins - 2014 UCI World Cup Downhill Slideshow from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

<b>Welcome to Africa for the first race of the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. #rarrr</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The official DH course profile, including a backflip opportunity on the 40m table. Course designer, Nigel Hicks, in audio.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>They have added a great deal of rock to the track, adding technicality and possible detonation for those on shorter-travel bikes. Course designer, Nigel Hicks in the audio.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>With all the gluten free diets going on, you need to have a constant supply of bite-size protein-filled snacks. Gee discusses the PMB course changes in between nibbles.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>It's more than just the wheel size that has changed on the GT Fury that the Atherton's and Beaumont are using this weekend. Some drastic reach revisions have been made, too.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Lots of new bits and bobs going on bikes this weekend and we'll see more as the bikes come out tomorrow.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The Russian XC juniors are eyeing up the potential boundary adjustments to tackle the awkward rocks. #crimeariver</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Josh Brycleland's going to be trying out this rad steed tomorrow. He says he's struggling to find mules for the shuttle and confirms it works well on dirt roads.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Josh Bryceland bedding in a factory fresh Santa Cruz V10c, which is what he'll most likely run.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Brendan may have forgotten his DH bike, but he will still look fast in this awesome, freshly painted D3. He is looking to better his result from last year.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>A sleek new Giant DH bike is out here this week, a little different to what Danny and Andrew have already won on this year.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>In case you were wondering, this is the other South African who is racing this weekend. No jokes about these being their race bikes now after the spree of rocks placed on track.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Kiwis in Jandals. Nothing out of the ordinary.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The locals don't want a little bike winning on their DH track. There are rocks everywhere now.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Jase has joined Sam Hill on CRC Nukeproof this year, bringing in more than just mechanic support.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>This year the speed trap is at the one place on track where we all want to know how fast riders are going. #deathgrip</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Duncan trying to work out the SUNSEEKER app or find a signal for Tinder.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Any guesses for whose fork this is? Sven buys a beer to the first correct guess. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Good to see Matti Lehikoinen at some World Cups this year, not racing but coaching the Norwegian junior team. However look for Matti at Masters World Champs in Hafjell later this year.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Tracy Moseley is here this weekend, but racing XC, much like Graves has been doing recently back in Australia.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>While the new Chris King headsets have been all over the internet there's a lesser-seen handy tool for tightening the whole thing up without a star nut.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Greg's pet rooster.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>#TIA</b> -Sven Martin

<b>When choosing the accommodation in South Africa, teams usually look for bike-building facilities. There were almost no bikes at the venue today. Mechanics and riders choosing to stay close to swimming pools, shade and away from Instagram poachers.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Joe Bowman feeling left out of the Pro Bag Check department.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Guaranteed heavier luggage than most race bikes this weekend.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>England. It's raining, windy and wet back home. Nice to be away.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Today in airport trends, shiny floors and minimal lighting.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Africa may be a journey to reach, but it's often a beautiful one.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Driving from Johannesburg to PMB, we took a stop in search of food, discovering fine eating.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Texture.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Jungle uplift sessions.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Huck tastic. There's no doubt that Greg's knee can take a hit. We just wonder if his soft, little hands will be able to hold on for a full run.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Fresh ENVE wheels for the Syndicate means even lighter complete builds. Despite the hefty asking price, you still have to put the stickers on.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>With World Champs here last year, each team is pretty on top of the technical side of things. Here settings from FOX are being dialed to get the bikes riding right on the track from the word go.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Like father like son.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Happy pedaling.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Peaty's fresh D3 blending in amongst the giant bamboos. It's the start of another season for the would-be-veteran racer. #wontbackdown #gordosOTBpick</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>While people question the gnarliness of the DH track, no risks are taken with the technical XC here.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The cut-down essentials of the traveling mechanic.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Kind of.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>2014 World Cups HERE WE COME!</b> -Sven Martin

Are you as excited as we are to be dropping in on another World Cup downhill season?! The riders, teams and media have descended upon Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, to crack open the highest level of downhill mountain bike competition in 2014. The track has been made rougher, wheel size is still a hot topic and new bikes are showing up around every corner. Let's kick off another great season with the first slideshow from Sven Martin and Duncan Philpott! YEW!

Don't miss any of the Pro bikes, gear and team news in our World Cup forum thread

Win a SRAM X01 DH drivetrain with Vital OTB, Pietermaritzburg

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