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MTB News & Racing Round-up, August 27, 2009

Date published:
August 27, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Evans and Knox top favorites for Blockhouse

    Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized)
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 12:55 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Next round South African marathon series is this weekend

    South African marathoners will race the MTN Blockhouse, the fifth event of the MTN National Series on Sunday, August 30.

    Kevin Evans, David George, and Matthys Beukes (all MTN); Brandon Stewart, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Johnny Kritzinger and Max Knox (all DCM Chrome) and Marc Bassingthwaighte, Francois Theron and Philip Buys (all Garmin adidas) are the favorites in the men's race.

    Another rider to watch is Ben-Melt Swanepoel (Specialized), who has proven with recent results that he is one of the most consistent riders in South Africa. During the past eight weeks, he finished on the podium every time he competed. He finished second most of the time; however, everything changed when he won the Lost City Mountain Bike Race last weekend.

    The always smiling Swanepoel, who will race against the MTN, DCM Chrome and Garmin adidas teams, broke his elbow earlier this season during during the Sani2Sea, but the Blockhouse 110km event should suit Swanepoel to the tee. He has had some of his best results in this area where the climbs are not very long, especially because there is never quite enough time for a rider to recover during the constant up and down sections.

    "I think it will be won by the rider who can out-think the rest," said Swanepoel. "At the end of the race, there will probably still be a big group of us left to battle it out to be the first across the finishing line. I will be ready."

    As usual, Evans is the other firm favourite. He has just come back from Austria where he competed in the World Marathon Championship, finishing eighth overall, and he will be looking for a win to help him to a fifth overall South African marathon series title.

    After his mechanical fiasco at the last round in Harrismith, which prevented him from defending his South African marathon title, Evans certainly has something to prove.

    The women’s race could boil down to a battle royal between the three "Y's" of South...

  • Heras plans La Ruta return

    Roberto Heras competing in La Ruta de los Conquistadores
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 21:07 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Former Vuelta a España winner preparing for mountain bike stage race

    Former Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras will return to compete for the second time in a challenging Costa Rican mountain bike stage race. The Spaniard will race La Ruta de los Conquistadores on November 11-14, when he hopes to better his seventh place overall finish of 2008.

    Heras underestimated the challenge of La Ruta last year and intends to improve his performance this year.

    "Participating in 2008 was a wonderful experience. I brought wonderful memories back with me to Spain," said Heras. "... this year I want to be fully prepared for the race. As for last year, I barely had time to train."

    The 2008 La Ruta was dominated by Costa Ricans including a win by Federico Ramírez Méndez. His compatriots, Paolo Montoya Cantillo and Enrique Artavia Cedeño, rounded out the top three, and the first foreigner was Thomas Dietsch of France in fourth.

    The 35-year-old Heras won the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) four times. He still holds the title for the first three (in 2000, 2003 and 2004), but for the fourth win (in 2005), he was disqualified for taking EPO.

    In his road career, Heras raced for Kelme-Costa Blanca, Liberty Seguros-Würth and US Postal Service teams. As part of the latter, he raced with Lance Armstrong.

    At this year's La Ruta, Heras will face the usual strong Costa Rican contingent as well as the entire MonaVie-Cannondale team, which will be sending seven riders.

  • Croatian Cup cross country wraps up this weekend

    The poster for the Croatian Cup finale happening on August 30.
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 23:45 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    XCO Dubovac happening Sunday

    The BBK-T-Rex mountain bike club is hosting the XCO Dubovac race in Karlovac, Croatia, on Sunday, August 30. The race serves as the sixth and final round of the Croatian Cup and awards UCI category-two race points for elite and junior men and women.

    Some top riders are expected to attend for a final tune-up going into the next weekend's World Championships. Racers will compete for five or six laps on a 5.6km course.

    For more information, visit

  • Näf passes on mountain bike Worlds participation after injury

    Winner Ralph Naf of Switzerland
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 23:48 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Swiss rider delaying return until final two World Cups

    Switzerland's Ralph Näf, one of the contenders for a World Championship cross country medal, will not make the trip to compete in Canberra, Australia, next week. Näf made the decision to sit out worlds after crashing two weeks ago on a training ride.

    "If I were to fly to the worlds, it would be to compete for the victory. I might have been capable of beating Julien Absalon, but after having missed out on a full week of practice just before the race, that goal has become unrealistic."

    The reigning European champion Näf had suffered a severe gash to his elbow. He was transported to the hospital via helicopter and underwent immediate surgery.

    He has resumed training on his road bike and will instead focus on the season's two last World Cup races in Champéry and Schladming, respectively, in mid-September. Näf is currently ranked fourth in the World Cup standings.

    Näf's Multivan Merida team manager Andreas Rottler supported his rider's choice. "This was a very difficult decision for us. After all, the Worlds course is one of Ralph's favourites, and last year, he won a World Cup race there. Without a doubt, he would have been within the inner circle of favourites, but we have to look at things realistically."

  • Hannah relaxed and ready for Triple RRR

    Michael Hannah (GT Bicycles)
    Article published:
    August 27, 2009, 16:45 BST
    John Flynn

    Downhiller looks forward to Sunday's point-to-point cross country race

    Barely a week until the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships at Mount Stromlo in Canberra, Mick Hannah has been enjoying the most relaxed preparation imaginable, playing the role of tourist guide for his Team GT Teammates in Australia's Tropical North.

    Together with American team manager Steve Spencer, Belgian mechanic Mark Maurissen and UCI mountain bike photographer Gary Perkin, Australian downhill national champion Hannah will cap off a week in Australia's adventure holiday playground, by fronting up for the legendary Triple RRR Classic point-to-point cross-country race from Mount Molloy to Port Douglas on Sunday.

    "The Triple RRR is one of the better races anywhere in the world," Hannah said of his home event that starts in the rural outback, descends through World Heritage rainforest and finishes on palm-fringed Four Mile Beach.

    "The atmosphere is normally pretty relaxed, with a few guys going crazy at the front of the race. It'll be great fun."
    Mixed in with a training program that has included downhill runs and cross country laps at the Cairns Mountain Bike Club's Smithfield headquarters, Hannah has been showing his mates a good time locally, with a snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef and a spear fishing expedition to the coastal islands.

    "I shot at a lot of fish, but had no luck," said Hannah, who is ranked fifth on the UCI World Cup downhill circuit.

    Maurissen, who has been fine tuning Hannah's downhill bike in preparation for the World's assault, has also been enjoying every minute, despite missing out on a promised dinner of gourmet coral trout.

    "It's been pretty cool and I can't wait for Sunday," Maurissen said.

    Entries sold out last week for Australia's oldest point-to-point cross country mountainbike race, which, in its 19th year, has attracted a record field - capped at 300 cyclists. The list of contenders includes four-time champion David Wood, who will use the race to mark a...

  • American mountain bike event management company sold

    The Sea Otter race & expo area
    Article published:
    August 27, 2009, 17:42 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Promoter Line, Inc. purchases Blue Wolf Events

    Blue Wolf Events, the company behind some major American mountain bike events like the Sea Otter Classic, was purchased by Promoter Line, Inc. (PLI), effective August 14. The deal significantly increases the Dallas-Fort Worth-based PLI's client roster.

    Blue Wolf currently handles agreements major events including The Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, The Sun Trust National Marathon in Washington, D.C., The Danskin Women's Triathlon Series events (in Denver and New Jersey). It has also run the six-stop National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) events in Idaho, Vermont, West Virginia and several other states.

    PLI already works events like the Audi Best Buddies Bike Challenges in Massachusetts and California, and The National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Bike MS rides in Dallas and San Antonio.

    Jeff Frost, founder of Blue Wolf Events, will open and run the new Utah location for PLI's West Coast office and help the organization expand its bike / run department. The Utah office will complement existing offices in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Colleyville, Texas.

    The events that Blue Wolf brought to the table were attractive incentives for the deal, but PLI President Jerry Thompson says the bigger draw was the opportunity to bring Frost's talents to the PLI team.

    "Jeff brings a wealth of experience in the Bike/Run event spectrum and he will be a pivotal part of the Bike/Run team as we continue to expand," said Thompson. Frost has 20 years of experience in event production.