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MTB News & Racing Round-up, December 31, 2009

Date published:
December 31, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Alpine Epic returns for second year

    Two riders in the Alpine Epic stage race.
    Article published:
    December 24, 2009, 13:20 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    New Zealand mountain bike stage race set for February

    The 2010 Alpine Epic four-day mountain bike stage race is scheduled for February 24-27, 2010. The event will take racers from Mt Somers to Lake Tekapo in New Zealand.

    Up to 100 two-person teams will pit their skills and endurance against rivals over 243km through high-country stations and Alpine passes from South Canterbury and into the Mackenzie Basin. At the inaugural event in 2009, Team RoadCraft's Marcus Roy, of Invercargill, and Kashi Leuchs, of Dunedin, won four out of the five stages in a total time of 13 hours, 24 minutes and 47 seconds.

    "The isolation is the unique factor in this race. You have this feeling of remoteness with just a couple of sheep tracks as guidance and knowing full well that the only people to venture up here are the musterers and us," Leuchs said after the race in 2009.

    The first event of its kind in New Zealand, the Alpine Epic combines adventurous mountain biking with streamlined logistics. Each night a large marquee is set up to feed the riders and a presentation is held over dinner to acknowledge top-placed riders and share memorable moments from the day. Breakfast is also catered for and riders camp out each night in a tent village.

    Described as the toughest mountain bike race in New Zealand the event attracts riders from throughout the world - in 2009 teams from the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Switzerland and America vied for the title.

    Alpine Epic event director Nick Ross said it was the feedback from the inaugural event that made the 18 months of planning worthwhile for his team.

    "Riders really seemed to understand what we were trying to do in creating a laid-back atmosphere set in the spectacular South Island high country," he said.

    "We are pretty excited about 2010, we are planning on continuing where we left off in 2009, with some awesome remote campsites, challenging and scenic riding, while giving people the chance to hang out and meet riders from all...

  • Willemse signs with Team Ancillotti

    Rhys Willemse is the #3 junior in the rankings
    Article published:
    December 24, 2009, 14:00 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Fellow Kiwi Brannigan to join him

    The Italian Ancillotti mountain bike team signed New Zealander Rhys Willemse to compete in downhill and four cross races for 2010. As a junior, Willemse scored 13th overall and the first junior place at the Maribor World Cup in Slovenia plus he won the Australian Downhill Junior Championships. He also finished fourth at the junior World Championship in Canberra, Australia a few months ago. With his new team, he'll race the elite downhill and four cross World Cup circuit, the Italian downhill series and the iXS series.

    "I'm looking forward to riding my new Ancillotti bike and producing some great results again next season," said Willemse according to a team press release. "It will also be good to be riding for a team again, and not having to worry about anything, other than concentrating on my riding. Ancillotti has given me the chance to show the world what I can do.

    "My goals for the 2010 season are to produce some top 10 results and finish the season in the top 20. I had a good season last year...and I believe that I can finally get a top 10 result in my first year as a pro rider. My future goal is to one day be World Champion."

    Willemse will be based in Italy's Doganaccia Ski Resort along with his new Kiwi teammate George Brannigan who will be competing in the junior World Championship and World Cup series. Brannigan started racing three years ago and has won the Under 19 New Zealand series in 2008 and finished seventh at the Junior World Championships in 2009.

    "I have wanted to ride professionally ever since I started riding downhill," said Brannigan. "With Ancillotti Doganaccia I think I will have a good chance to achieve my goals for 2010."

    Tomaso Ancillotti, Ancillotti factory owner, team manager and mechanic will support the pair at races. "They are fast and have plenty of style," said Ancillotti. "My father Alberto - at the factory - and I - at races - will provide them all the support they need to compete...

  • Houffalize may have to cancel 2010 World Cup mountain bike race

    Marga Fullana (Massi) has won five times on the Houffalize World Cup course.
    Article published:
    December 26, 2009, 9:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Financial shortfall threatens Belgian race

    The World Cup mountain bike round in Houffalize, Belgium, scheduled for May 1-2, 2010, will most likely not be held, due to financial shortfalls. The news is expected to be announced officially on Monday night.

    The Houffalize Commune is expected to cancel the race due to an 80,000 euro shortfall, according to the Belgian website The city "will not bear the burden alone," said Mayor Mark Capri. The race would be cancelled entirely "unless we have the promise of support" from additional sponsors.

    Houffalize is the only round of the World Cup in Belgium, and the Belgian Cycling Federation was surprised by the news.  "But if we cannot ride in Houffalize, then we will go looking for another location that wants to organise a mountain bike race," said Federation Vice President Thierry Marechal.

    Spaniard Margarita Fullana and Frenchman Julien Absalon won the 2009 round of the World Cup in Houffalize.  The round is a popular one among racers and historically attracts large numbers of spectators.

  • Gambino, Barazzuol contracted by GT-Brondello Pro Team

     Alessandro Gambino shakes hands after signing a new contract deal.
    Article published:
    December 27, 2009, 19:30 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Two racers added to mountain bike team

    Alessandro Gambino and Filippo Barazzuol have signed a contract with the GT-Brondello Pro Team for 2010. The news comes after the team has already signed two mountain bikers: Paolo Montoya and Marco Osella.

    Barazzuol has done well at mountain bike races like the Ironbike and is an accomplished marathoner. He will attend the Italian marathon series races such as the Marathon Tour and the PiemonteMTB as well as the Italian National Marathon Championships.

    Gambino finished third at the Italian cyclo-cross nationals in 2009. He has been chosen to be part of the Italian national team a few times and has also attended a World Cup. This year, he excelled at the Internazionali d'Italia races and the Racer Bikes Cup cross country events.

  • Prado spends time training Costa Rica

    Manny Prado in his national champion of Costa Rica kit.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 19:55 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Sho-Air/Specialized rider works on his climbing

    Manny Prado of the Sho-Air / Specialized team has been busy with some off season training at home in Costa Rica. The past week has been a good chance for the 2009 La Ruta de los Conquistadores winner to work on his climbing.

    "Almost anywhere I go is up or down a hill, not very many flats here in the town of San Ramon, Alajuela, Costa Rica," wrote Prado in his blog at for Specialized. "In seven days, I have done almost 710 kilometers and about 35,000 feet of elevation gain.

    "I have always wanted to improve my climbing skills, and I think this may be the trick that will make me a better climber."

    Prado said his easy rides are limited to a two-kilometer area in which he has to do many laps to keep it flat. On his hillier, more exploratory rides, Prado has been taking in the scenery and the wildlife. Referring to one recent ride, he wrote, "The scenery made it all worth it. On the way back a colorful Toucan flew right in front of me as I was going up the hill on the way home."

    The hard work is not over for Prado any time soon. "I have plenty more training to do! I'm looking forward to it, and enjoying the time back in Costa Rica."