No sooner is the motocross season over than the Supercross Eurocup is on the agenda, starting at the Acropolis in Nice this weekend.

Two categories will be competing in each of the five rounds - 125cc for the 15-18 age group and 250cc for riders aged 18-24 - and Jean-Luc Fouchet is busily putting the finishing touches to the track which will welcome over fifty riders, representing eight European nations.

France boasts the largest squad, reflecting a very welcome upsurge of interest in Supercross, but there is increasing competition from abroad, given that the 2002 edition of the Eurocup definitely made its mark, and emboldened the young generation

Spain's Xavier Hernandez played the lead role for two races, to the great surprise of a French delegation reputed to be specialists in the field. The Spaniard finally finished sixth, but had undoubtedly succeeded in proving that Supercross is now a pan-European sport, as confirmed by Italy's Matteo Bonini who made a giant leap in the UEM Eurocup 2002 rankings, finishing seventh.

S?bastien Pourcel, the 2002 runner-up, and Benjamin Coisy, the 2003 French champion, are this year's hot favourites, but all the riders are well aware that significant level differences are a thing of the past, and that no-one can afford to make mistakes.

The new 250 category will welcome many specialists. With no established hierarchy, there is a great deal of interest and excitement linked to the creation of the Senior Pro event. In this age group, it is difficult to predict who among Frenchman Antoine M?o - the 2002 winner and best newcomer in the 2003 world motocross - his countrymen St?phan Demartis and Rapha?l Beaudouin, Swiss number one supercross rider Marc Ristori, or Italy's talented Davide Degli Espoti will make it through to the final podium.

On the eve of the first competition in both categories, a new generation of riders is coming to the fore, confirming renewed interest in supercross, which is excellent news for the Eurocup initiator.

"I have always been convinced of the need to have a real European programme," Fouchet explained, "The first step was to foster the revival of supercross in the minds of our riders. As from this edition, we are adding a new capacity, and are starting to rebuild a generation of competitors in 125cc and 250cc. It will take a little time before we see new champions take home gold, but we are definitely on the right track."

2003 UEM Supercross Eurocup dates:

October 3-4 Nice Acropolis
November 14-15 Grenoble Palais des Sports
November 23 Barcelona Pal?o San Jordi
November 28-29 Lyon Palais des Sports
December 19-20 Gen?va Palexpo