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MTB News & Racing Round-up, February 11, 2010

Date published:
February 11, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Pekatch wins Israeli season opener

    Dror Pekatch (Subaru Gary Fisher) wheelies to a win.
    Article published:
    February 10, 2010, 13:14 GMT
    Yaron Michali

    Belgian Jacobs takes second

    Dror Pekatch won his first race of the 2010 season ahead of Belgian rider Gody Jacobs and Idan Shapira. The Subaru - Gary Fisher rider took the victory at the Israel Cycling Federation's first mountain bike race of the year in Mishmar Ha'emek.

    Stormy weather made for a muddy, wet nine laps of the three-kilometre course. Gody Jacobs of the Granville Team was in Israel for two weeks of training. Jacobs is a former Belgian National Team member, and he and Pekatch, Idan Shapira and Oded Danon assumed the early race lead.

    In the third lap, Pekatch and Jacobs cooperated to open a gap while working together. In the last lap, Pekatch was first into the downhill section, where he opened a six-second gap that he held until the finish.

    "I am extremely satisfied to win the first race of the 2010 season. It's a good start," said Pekatch, who is starting his fifth year with the Subaru-Gary Fisher Team. "I didn't have a good day, but I tried to get into the rhythm, I'm glad it worked well."

    "Having Gody Jacobs with me helped a lot as we know each other for many years and are good friends. Each of us knows his strengths on the course, and we adapted to the muddy, European-like course. It is the first race of the season, and there is a lot of work to be done, I'm still not where I want to be. The goal was to test myself and I'm glad it ended with a win."

    "It's always great fun to be back in Israel, although it's not the weather I expected," said Jacobs, "but I was informed that it will change for the better in the next few days. Dror Pekatch rode well, and I was a bit tired from the flight, which landed the night before the race. I had the advantage in the climbs, but Dror was better on the downhill sections and he took the race at the technical sections at the end."

    Next week, they will race in Be'ery.

    [Translation by Ori Zur]

  • Coenen dies after brain tumor

    Davy Coenen won the 2008 GP Roel Paulissen.
    Article published:
    February 10, 2010, 15:05 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Belgium mourns young mountain biker

    Mountain biker Davy Coenen died on Tuesday from the effects of a brain tumor. The 29-year-old was surrounded by family when he passed away in his home in Neerpelt according to Belgium's De Standaard paper.

    Coenen was diagnosed with the tumor one year ago, and he underwent various treatments, including surgery and radiation, until one month ago, when doctors said there was nothing more they could do.

    The Belgian won the Benelux Cup and the Flanders Cup and had set the 2012 Olympic Games in London as his goal. He finished third in the Belgian championships in 2007 behind Sven Nys and Filip Meirhaeghe.

    Mountain bike marathon World Champion and fellow Belgian Roel Paulissen was saddened to hear the news. "He was too young to leave this world... . We will always remember you, Davy," wrote Paulissen in a Facebook post

    Cyclingnews extends its condolences to the friends and family of Davy Coenen.

  • Kenda-Felt team signs four riders for 2010

    Under 23 cross country Champion Colin Cares (Kenda-Tomac-Hayes)
    Article published:
    February 10, 2010, 17:37 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    North American mountain bike team to race 29ers

    Four riders will represent the Kenda-Felt mountain bike team throughout the 2010 season. Colin Cares, Amanda Carey, Judy Freeman and Andy Schultz will compete in a variety of national and international cross country and endurance events.

    Schultz and his teammates will target the US Pro XCT series and other premier off-road events in North America. The team's diverse roster reflects the broad range of endurance events that make up the current competitive cross country landscape. From short track to ultra endurance races and festivals, Kenda-Felt will have a presence.

    "I'm really excited to be racing for Felt," said Schultz, the 2005 under 23 US National Champion from Tucson, Arizona. "Felt has a great pedigree in racing and a history of sponsoring great racers. I'm honored to have this company's support."

    Cares, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the current under 23 US National Champion. Carey, of Victor, Idaho, focuses on ultra endurance racing and finished second at the prestigious Leadville 100 in Colorado in 2007 and 2009. Freeman, a new recruit to the Kenda-Felt team, is coming off a stellar 2009 season in which she represented the US at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Australia.

    "Our partnerships with teams like Garmin-Transitions as well as top-tier Olympic triathletes and others have helped put Felt bikes at the forefront of people's minds in those disciplines," said company namesake Jim Felt. "And we're happy to be expanding our support in off-road racing, where we have some incredible new products coming to market."

    The riders will have their choice of several different Felt models including the Nine Team, Felt's flagship carbon fiber 29-inch hardtail. Felt's 29-inch wheel hardtails have gained a following among endurance racers.

    "I think the Nine will be the weapon of choice for Leadville," said Cares.

    In addition to the Nine Series bikes, Kenda-Felt riders will be involved...

  • New downhill and cross country venues set for New Zealand Cup

    Justin Leov (New Zealand)
    Article published:
    February 10, 2010, 22:28 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Tauranga, Hamilton host national mountain bike series round five

    The New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup will to Tauranga and Hamilton for round five of the downhill and cross country series. The six-event national series has already seen competitors racing at three events on the South Island in January. The three North Island Cup events in February will culminate in the National Championships at the end of the month in Wellington.

    Tauranga is hosting the downhill on Friday and Saturday at a completely new venue that hasn't seen racing of any level to date. The 2Stage Mountainbike Park on the Welcome Bay road between Tauranga and the coast has been developed through the vision and drive of local businessman Tim Lawton and the Tauranga Mountain Bike Club.

    The 2Stage park compliments the existing and adjacent Summer Hill Mountain Bike Park, with the new nationals-ready downhill race course eagerly anticipated by locals and travelling competitors alike. The development of this venue completes a rapid journey for Lawton and his supporters - originally intending to work this project through in time for the 2011 season, the project was fast-tracked due to the opportunity to host this year becoming available late in 2009.

    Most of New Zealand's top downhillers will be racing at Tauranga, and local elite racer Hayden Lee has a point to prove after almost winning the fourth round of the New Zealand Cup last weekend in Rotorua. Lee missed out on the top podium spot at that race by fractions of a second to Wanganui's Glenn Haden in what was by far his best performance on New Zealand soil. He'll be looking to go one better on a course that he has helped design and build, against competitors who he knows will not give an inch.

    Tauranga-based Daniel Heads, in the senior category, is also likely to hold his ground. Heads was a member of the 2009 New Zealand Mountain Bike Team as a junior, but has been just off the pace this summer in a highly competitive senior field. Heads will utilise all of the advantage he can...

  • Downhill World Champion Peat raises £15,000 for cancer charity

    Steve Peat and his team of fundraisers have raised £44,000 for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity in Sheffield thanks to their successful Wharncliffe Weekender mountain bike race.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 11:08 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Wharncliffe Weekender mountain bike race will return for 2010

    Downhill World Champion Steve Peat dropped of a check for £15,000 at the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity in Sheffield, United Kingdom, this week. That's how much the Wharncliffe Weekender mountain bike race, which is managed by Peat, raised in its fourth running in late 2009.

    "It's quite surreal," said three-time World Cup winner Peat. "What started out as a bit of fun with a few mates is now becoming a recognised and respected event in its own right. We've been having up to 2,000 hits on our website each week, even six months after the event. I've taken donations from people all over the world, which I hope is raising the profile of the charity as well as our event.

    "We've all been stunned and would like to thank everyone for the huge levels of support."

    Peaty has been racing for over 17 years and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University. He's also received special mention at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards. He recently renewed his contract with the Santa Cruz Syndicate team.

    Over the past four years, Peat has helped raise £44,000 for the Weston Park charity. The amount has made a difference to the charity, specifically the Teenage Cancer Unit. Cat Newman from the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity said her organization was grateful for the donations.

    "Originally, we all got involved due to family and friends being treated at Weston Park and take the skills from our day jobs to help co-ordinate the Weekender," said Max Feetham, Co-Organizer of the Weekender. "The group has great synergy; Wendy Duggan does all the administration, Mark Wilson manages our online capabilities, Maxine Gregory oversees corporate sponsorship, Andrew Hardman the course management and construction, Steve Peat brings in the crowds and I apparently boss them all around!"

    Last year's event drew 1,000 spectators and 140 riders. Many of the riders camped overnight on...

  • Central Pro Team enjoys respite from winter at training camp

    The Central Pro Teams in Schwarzwald: Mona Eiberweiser, Anja Gradl, Lisi Osl and Sabine Spitz
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 16:10 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Spitz's Top-ranked women's team prepares for start of off-road season

    The Central Pro Team ladies headed south to kick off their 2010 season with some training and racing in a place with a warmer climate. The squad had one goal in mind as it travelled to Majorca: prepare to defend its number-one World Cup ranking.

    World Cup winner Lisi Osl, Anja Gradl and newcomer Mona Eiberweiser made the trip under the guidance of team leader Sabine Spitz. The Olympic champion, who is the current marathon World Champion, continues to recover from two operations. En route to recovery, she was forced to take an extended break from her bike, but that gave her the opportunity to work more closely with her German and Austrian teammates.

    "All are highly motivated, which makes me very optimistic for 2010," said Spitz. "The bar is certainly high, but we should be able to repeat that success. "

    Osl had a breakthrough year in 2009. She won three World Cup cross countries and the overall title. The Austrian said she's been happy with her training this winter and plans to pattern this season on last year's given that it worked so well.

    "I've increased the amount of training a little bit, but nothing changed," said Osl.

    Gradl was also looking good at the early season training camp, even though her studies have hampered her training somewhat. Nonetheless, Spitz still thinks Gradl may be in even better form coming off this winter season than last winter.

    Eiberweiser is the young talent of the squad. The 19-year-old was European Junior Champion in 2008 and is considered one of the great hopes for German mountain biking. Eiberweiser only stayed a short time with the team at the training camp, however, as she had to return home for school.

    The Central Pro women will head next to the sunny island of Cyprus for some additional training and racing.  They are expected to race at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup.

  • All three male Olympic MTB champions to battle at Maremma Cup

    Julien Absalon (Orbea) leads on lap four.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 17:17 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Brentjens, Martinez, Absalon to head world-class field in Italy

    The winners of the last four Olympic Games - Bart Brentjens (1996), Julien Absalon (2004 and 2008) and Miguel Martinez (2000) - are among the top mountain bikers planning to attend the Maremma Cup from February 27 to March 7. The race is being organized by still another mountain bike star, the now retired former World Champion Thomas Frischknecht.

    Because mountain biking was included for the first time in the Olympic Games in 1996, this means all the male Olympic mountain bike champions will be competing at the same event.

    In its second edition of the Maremma Cup will differ from the first. The two headline events, both cross country races, will happen on Sundays, February 28 and March 7 respectively. The opening race will double as round one of the Internazionali d'Italia, the Italian Cycling Federation's national series.

    The partnership of the Maremma Cup organizers and the Italian Federation is no accident given aspirations of World Cup status, for perhaps as early as 2011. Grosseto, in Maremma, is being considered as a possible host.

    The Maremma Cup will also include four other so called "kermesse" races in historic city centers. On Saturdays, February 27 and March 6, racers will take to the streets of the Old Town Massa Marittima for two of the kermesses. Another will be on Tuesday, March 2 in Porto Santo Stefano. And a fourth is set for Thursday, March 4 in Grosseto, in Piazza Duomo, on a fast and flat course. New for this year, participation in the kermesses is open to women, too.

    A new "Flyer Race" for electric mountain bikes will also be part of the Cup on March 7 and a race for industry folks like managers, mechanics and engineers is slated for March 5.

    Nino Schurter, Florian Vogel, Jose Antonio Hermida, Ralf Naef and Leonardo Hector Paez are also on the preliminary start list along with Italians Marco Fontana and Martino Fruet. Eva Lechner, Nathalie Schneitter and Daniela Campuzano are...

  • Giant expands pro mountain bike team program

    American Adam Craig is the current short track national champion and a former cross country national champion.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 19:50 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Rabobank, Giant partner to sponsor cross country, downhill teams

    Giant is stepping up its support of off-road racing in 2010 with the addition of the new Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team, which will focus on World Cup cross country and cyclo-cross racing, plus an expanded Giant Factory Off-Road Team. With the two teams, Giant has assembled a diverse group of athletes including Olympians, World Champions and freeride stars.

    The newest component of Giant's program is the Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team. With four full-time cross country racers, including US Olympian Adam Craig, this will be a year-round global operation supporting cross country riders during the mountain biking season and cyclo-cross riders in the fall and winter.

    "From an athlete's standpoint, it's the ideal setup," Craig said. "There are certain similarities between cross country mountain biking and cyclo-cross, and there's always some athlete cross-over between the two disciplines. So structuring it under one team makes sense."

    The Rabobank-Giant Off-Road team was presented on Thursday afternoon at Giant Benelux in Lelystad, the Netherlands. It's the newest squad Rabobank-sponsored squad. Rabobank has backed a professional road team since 1996 and what has evolved into the Continental Team since 1997.

    Rabobank has a cyclo-cross history with riders like Adrie van der Poel, Richard Groenendaal, Sven Nys and Lars Boom. The company already sponsors several mountain bike events, but this team marks the first time it is backing a team of mountain bikers.

    For the 2010 mountain bike season, Craig will be joined by a trio of talented young cross country racers: Emil Lindgren (Sweden), Fabian Giger (Switzerland) and Henk Jaap Moorlag (The Netherlands). All are all under 25 and rising through the ranks of World Cup cross country competition. Giger is the European Under 23 champion and Jaap Moorlag is Dutch national champion is his first year as an Under 23.

    "I'm thrilled Giant is stepping up its commitment through the new...