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MTB News & Racing Round-up, April 17, 2010

Date published:
April 17, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • South African national series race wide open in Stander's absence

    Ben Melt Swanepoel summits the climb.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 23:35 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Swanepoel, Croeser, Bassingthwaighte, Buys among those left to battle

    When the cat is away, the mice will play. This will probably be the case on Saturday, April 10 during the second event of South Africa's MTN National Cross Country series which will take place in Pietermaritzburg.

    Burry Stander (Specialized/Mr Price) will not be competing. He has dominated the national series during the past two years, winning basically every race by more than five minutes. However, he departed for the United States on Thursday to compete in next week's Sea Otter Classic in California. The following week he will be in England to compete in a cross country World Cup race.

    Stander's absence means that it will be anybody's race on Saturday, especially because many of the top riders are still recovering from their Cape Epic adventures. There is no clear-cut favourite.

    Ben-Melt Swanepoel (Specialized/Mr Price), who has proven himself to be Mr Consistency, is not prepared to take on the mantle of a pre-race favourite. His only comment was, "I will give it my all and who knows, maybe I will surprise myself." The reason why Swanepoel is not overly confident is that he has been battling with a flu-virus ever since the Sani2C.

    Max Knox and Brandon Stewart (DCM) opted not to race because they will also compete in the Sea Otter Classic next week.

    The 18-year old Rourke Croeser (DCM) is the only rider who is bold enough to say: "I am going to race to win." As a junior he was invincible.

    Croeser is quietly confident that, in Stander's absence, the race is his to win or lose. "My passion has always been cross country racing. I just love the challenge."

    Croeser's performance in the first MTN event in Alberton was a big disappointment. "I am the only one to blame. I made a stupid mistake that caused both my front and back wheels to puncture at the same time. Max Knox stopped to give me his wheel, but I had already lost too much time."

    Croeser reckons that if there is one rider who can beat him...

  • Leogang replaces Schladming as World Cup venue

    Sam Hill wins the men's World Cup downhill in Schladming in 2009.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 15:06 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Downhill, four cross round moved to different Austrian venue

    Leogang has replaced Schladming as the host of the sixth round of the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. The gravity event, scheduled for June 19-20, will change locations, but remains in Austria.

    Schladming has been on the World Cup calendar since 2004 and was voted best event of the series, thanks in particular to its downhill track which is a favorite of many specialists of the discipline. However, because the popular resort was awarded the 2013 Ski World Championships, it is currently undergoing work which makes it impossible to stage the World Cup mountain bike event.

    "Leogang has agreed to organise the sixth round of the World Cup, a double event featuring the downhill and four-cross disciplines," read a UCI press release. "The change will allow Leogang, which already has an event registered on the UCI international calendar the following weekend (June 26-27), to provide a mountain bike festival for fans of the sport. The UCI is delighted to have found an excellent alternative on the same date as Schladming, which minimises the implications for the riders, teams and media."

    The 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup comprises nine events starting with an Olympic cross country event in Yorkshire, Dalby Forest in Great Britain on April 25th, and finishing with a triple event in Windham, New York, in the United States on August 28-29.

    In 2009, Sam Hill and Tracy Moseley won the downhill events while Jared Graves and Anneke Beerten won the four cross races.

    The UCI said it will have more information on the Leogang World cup shortly.

  • Surprises abound in newly released Gravity East 2010 schedule

    Neko Mulally during his winning run.
    Article published:
    April 13, 2010, 12:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Killington returns as a venue; no more dual slalom

    America's Gravity East downhill racing series released its 2010 schedule, which includes the the first downhill race in a generation at Killington, Vermont. The news was one of several surprises from Gravity East. The series will span much of the eastern United States from America's northern border with Canada, to the Shenandoah Valley, which was known as the Breadbasket of the Southern Confederacy during America's Civil War.

    "We've made a lot of upgrades behind the scenes this winter," said Gravity East's Dan McDonald. "A lot of them may seem relatively minor on the face of if, but they'll add up to a higher-quality experience for our racers and mountains." The standardization of the registration process and race weekend schedules, as well as the utilization of a single timing company for the series are just a few of the background improvements made behind the scenes as part of a series-wide quality-improvement program.

    But the biggest change that most racers will notice is the new schedule. The return of Killington, one of the iconic venues of mountain biking's first golden age is a major coup for the series that already boasts former World Cup and National Championship venues for each of the season's first two races at Massanutten and Seven Springs.

    On the opposite end of the schedule, the Gravity East Finals have been relocated to the rapidly expanding Vertical Earth Mountain Bike Park at Eastern Pennsylvania's Blue Mountain. "We wanted to bring the Finals to a mountain that was more geographically centered for both our Northern and Southern racers," said McDonald, "And since the finals are late enough in the year that weather can become an issue on the northern mountains, it just made sense to move the Finals southward."

    As the series has grown, Gravity East has removed aspects of its program that it felt didn't add enough value for the racers or the sponsors. Gone is last year's dual slalom experiment. "We tried...

  • Batty among members of Trek Canada Mountain Bike Race Team

    Mical Dyck (Canada)
    Article published:
    April 13, 2010, 17:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Ontario-based team to represent Canada at World Cups and World Championships

    Formed last season with the intention of fostering young athletes harboring Olympic potential, The Trek Canada Mountain Bike Race Team returns for competition in the major mountain bike races of the 2010 season, including World Cup, Canada Cup, and US Pro XCT events. The team was created by a partnership with Trek Bicycle and Trek Store of Toronto.

    Trek Canada's all-Canadian roster consists of 26-year-old Eric Batty, 27-year-old Mical Dyck, 24-year-old Adam Morka, 26-year-old Peter Glassford,and 35-year-old masters competitor Jon Barnes.

    Former team member, 21-year-old Emily Batty, the younger sister of Eric Batty, recently moved on when she accepted a position on the Trek World Racing's international-level cross country team.

    "We believe that these four elite-level riders have the potential to compete at the World Cup level and are serious Olympic hopefuls," said Mike Hietpas, Canadian Sales Manager at Trek. "The focus for this team will be multiple World Cup events, with a particular emphasis on the World Cup Championship which is being held this year in Monte Sainte Anne, Quebec."

    2010 Trek Canada Mountain Bike Race Team
    Mical Dyck
    Adam Morka
    Peter Glassford
    Jon Barnes

  • Photo gallery: Opening the Otter

    The Colavita women's road team signed autographs.
    Article published:
    April 16, 2010, 9:10 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Images from day one at the Sea Otter Classic

    Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Sea Otter Classic kicked off near Monterey, California, on Thursday for what is a four-day festival of all things cycling including rides, races, public product expos and industry product launches.

    Sea Otter draws cycling enthusiasts of all ages and from all disciplines. Mountain bike pros and amateurs spent much of the day checking out their downhill, dual slalom, super D, cross country and short track courses, with elite racing kicking off Friday afternoon with the Super D.

    Roadies got an early start on the action with elites and amateurs contesting a criterium on the Laguna Seca Raceway.

    Cyclingnews was on hand to catch some images of the happenings on day 1. Stay tuned for complete coverage of the latest tech and racing from Sea Otter all weekend.

    Follow these arrows to check out the pro cross country course.

    Emily Batty (Trek World Racing) on her way to pre-ride the cross country course.

    A view of the venue.

  • Battle on for Australian marathon titles

    Former National Champion Tory Thomas concentrates on one of the tricky descents at Mount Stromlo.
    Article published:
    April 16, 2010, 20:02 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Reigning champions Spink, Thomas to race

    Australia's top endurance mountain bike riders will battle it out on the Pyrenees Mountain Range in Avoca, central Victoria, this Sunday, April 18 in an attempt to claim the national title at the Nemisis MTBA Australian Mountain Bike Marathon Championships.

    Coming off wins in the nation's most grueling solo mountain bike race, the Australian solo 24-hour mountain bike championships in Canberra over the Easter weekend, 24-hour World Champion Jason English and Jessica Douglas will go head to head against reigning national marathon champions Murray Spink and Tory Thomas in the elite men's and women's events.

    Not to be outdone, 2010 Otway Odyssey 100km winner Adrian Jackson and 2007 24-hour World Solo Champion Craig Gordon will also complete the 90km crusade which starts and finishes at Mount Avoca.

    The event doubles as the 2010 Nemisis Marathon Challenge, a mass participation event that will see over 600 riders take on the 90km, 45km, 33km and 15km course options.

    For more information, visit www.bighillevents.com.au/Avoca.

  • Fontana, Fumic enjoy first super D experiences

    Marco Fontana (Cannondale) leads the chase group across the line for second.
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 2:40 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Europeans excel in unfamiliar MTB discipline

    Despite being in their first-ever Super D races, Italian Marco Fontana and German Manuel Fumic took second and third, respectively behind veteran Super D'er Carl Decker at the Sea Otter Classic on Friday afternoon. Both Cannondale Factory Team riders finished the short, fast, largely downhill three-mile race with big grins on their faces.

    "I say 'good job on the Super D, US'. We need to take this back over to Europe," said Fontana. "It was way more fun than I thought it would be."

    "I'd ridden the course and it was wide and fast and straight, but then in the race, it was a whole other experience. All the guys were fighting against each other, and I had fun with my teammates."

    The two European riders, both on 26-inch bikes were slightly outgunned in the 50mph finish as Giant's Decker pulled away from them on his 29er full suspension in the final minute of what was about a 50mph finish."

    The 29er in the last part was so fast, we couldn't follow him. It's like Carl was riding at another speed," said Fontana.

    "We don't have those in Germany or in Europe," said Fumic. "I first heard of the super D and thought about a downhill, but it was more like a cross country race. It was so funny and hard and fast. It was a good experience."

    Fumic was especially entertained by the race's Lemans-style start. "We had to sit down on the grass and the guy said 'Put you hands on the head,' and I've never done something like that before. I thought ok, it feels like there is a policeman behind me yelling 'freeze'. Then we started really fast."

    "All the guys were looking around to see who was at front. Just one minute from the start, we were full gas the rest of the way."

    Both riders said they'd enjoy the chance to race more super Ds.

    See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the super D.

  • Rusch aims to defend her Leadville 100 win

    Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) on her way to check out the cross country course at the Sea Otter Classic
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 20:26 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    More marathons and stage races; fewer 24-hour races for Specialized racer

    After finishing second in the Sea Otter Super D on Friday afternoon, Rebecca Rusch is ready for more chances to race the discipline. She's also gearing up for more marathon and stage racing this season.

    "I'm interested in super Ds now, and stage racing, too, like the BC Bike Race," said Rusch, who is committed to defending the Leadville 100 title she won in 2009, her first attempt at the 100-mile Colorado mountain bike race.

    "Leadville 100 is a priority for this year," she said to Cyclingnews," and I had a great time racing in Argentina. I'm going to mix up the racing more." Early in the season she raced both the Trans Andes and the Trans Patagonia races in South America.

    A long-time rider for Specialized, Rusch has experienced plenty of success, including world titles, in 24-hour racing, but her focus has been shifting away from that type of event.

    "I love 24-hour racing. That's where my passion is, but doing solos can be really brutal. If I do any, it will be one or two or as part of a team. They are so hard."

    She had planned to race the US 24-hour National Championships in June at the 24-hours of Big Bear, but then the race was cancelled, and the championships were moved to Moab, Utah, in October.

    "I was looking forward to the Big Bear 24-hour race because the course is supposed to be amazing, and I've never been there. It's supposed to be an inspiring one to ride."

    "I am considering doing the World 24-hour solo race in Australia, but it's in mid-October, the same weekend as Moab, and I've only planned my season through August. I have to see how fresh I am and if I still have the psyche to do a hard solo then."

    Rusch's shift in focus is not unlike the trend which seems to be sweeping the United States. Fewer racers seem to be participating in 24-hour events, but 100-milers, marathons and stage races are seeing continuing growth in participation.

    "I think I'm not alone in...