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Welcome to Valparaiso, Chile and the 2013 Valparaiso Cerro Abajo. Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo

2013 marks the 11th annual running of the VCA and the first of a three year contract with Red Bull as the title sponsor. With riders from more than 13 countries and top athletes including Cedric Gracia, Marcelo Gutierez, Mitch Delfs, Neko Mulally, Eliot Jackson, and Filip Polc, the event draws an unprecedented 15,000 spectators on race day making it one of the largest mountain bike races in the world. The urban format in South America has proven itself to draw huge crowds and feeds a riding scene that is growing immensely larger year by year. The usual roots rocks and mud of the World Cup are replaced by the challenges of steep endless stair cases, 200 year old cobble stone streets, road gaps, wallrides, and a finish line that launches riders out of a second story window.

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Just count the kinks in the railing and you get an idea of how rough this staircase will be on the bikes.


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The start is high above the city in the favela. Not the safest part of town, and the residents take security a little more seriously than most riders are used to.

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Per order of the police, no riding is permitted prior to Sunday's race. In years prior there was a small practice session on Sat. but as the event grew in popularity, mobs of fans began to arrive early in anticipation, causing traffic incidents, blocking roads, and making it impossible to run practice under the radar of local authorities. Fresh off a second place finish last weekend in Santos Brazil, Marcelo Gutierez is already starting his 2013 season strong doing his very new sponsors proud.
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Congrats, Marcelo on joining the Red Bull Family. So how do first timers at VCA, Mitch Delfs and Eliot Jackson, learn the track? By watching helmet cam footage of two time winner Filip Polc.

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No, Eliot is not coming out of retirement, and wants everyone to know he is here on "vacation".  Most riders spent the day sleeping off jet lag or hanging at the local surf beach. Others wandered the general route of the track and tried to familiarize themselves the multiple stair gaps, and placement of ramps and landings.

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Last year's winner and local hero, Mauricio Acuña, greets fans while walking the stairway to the top of the favela.

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Others worked on their sun tans... Suns Out Guns out
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Mitch Delfs traveled all the way from Australia with a TV crew from Channel 7, Australia's largest broadcast network. Judging by the look on his face it's safe to say he isn't too bummed about missing his nation's national champs in the the pissing rain of Stromlo this weekend. Photo



And while Chris Van Dine goofed around and photo bombed this shot of local painting a mural for the VCA.... Photo

...the VCA work crews were working double time to weld large ramps on site, and assemble everything in time for Sunday's race. All while trying to stay out of the way of the local traffic. Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo

The event organizers even went so far as to provide extra security at the race hotel. Photo

As the daylight ran out the Chilean BBQ began.Photo

The VCA staff worked long into the night (and most likely into the early morning).


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Check back tomorrow for all the action from the craziest Urban Race of them all. The 2013 Red Bull Cerro Abajo.
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