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MTB news & racing round-up for March XX, 2009

Date published:
March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • US Cup adds fun rides

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    The western portion of the US Cup is introducing Just for Fun (JFF) Rides as a way to bring more...

    The western portion of the US Cup is introducing Just for Fun (JFF) Rides as a way to bring more mountain bikers into the fold of racing. Mountain bike legend Ned Overend, 1990 cross country World Champion, will lead the first ride at Fontana on March 29.

    The no pressure, non-scored event is for the first time rider/racer looking to get their feet wet, while riding some of the less technical sections of the course that the pro cross country riders will race later that day. JFF rides are open to all ages and skill levels, but organizers request that riders have some experience on a bicycle, be free of health problems and be able to ride for 15-30 minutes.

    "The whole concept of the JFF is to give people some exposure to the sport of mountain biking at a low pressure and much less technical level than that of our more hardcore race enthusiasts," said US Cup Marketing Director. "We are hoping that friends, family and kids of racers will bring out their bikes and join us for an abbreviated lap out at Fontana."

    "I think the concept is great, and I hope it really starts to gain momentum," said Overend, "because I think it's what the sport needs to bring in more riders at the entry level."

    Participation will cost US$25. For more information, visit www.mtb-uscup.com.

  • Marathon record smashed at Motatapu Icebreaker

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Kashi Leuchs ended Marcus Roy's four-year consecutive winning streak at the Motatapu Icebreaker on...

    Kashi Leuchs ended Marcus Roy's four-year consecutive winning streak at the Motatapu Icebreaker on Saturday. The race was billed as a Roy versus Leuchs showdown and didn't disappoint. It was three-time Olympian Leuchs' first attempt at the event, which followed a 50km route through three remote and spectacular high country properties between Wanaka and Arrowtown.

    "Marcus and I have done a lot of riding together and I know how strong he is so it feels good to win today," Leuchs said. "I went into this event without a lot of expectation and I'm really pleased to have won it."

    Leuchs said it was the landscape that most inspired his ride, "It's an amazing race - with incredible scenery and a really great vibe." For Roy, finishing second in the race was not all bad - he kept his record course intact.

    "It was a tough race. We had a fast start and I got sucked into chasing hard with Tony Hogg who led out the start. Eventually I realised I had to settle into my own race - to set my own pace," Roy said. "Kashi went by coming up to midway and from that point, I knew it was his race. "

    Unlike Leuchs, Roy just failed to go under the magic two-hour mark this year, finished in 2:00.11, but still more than three minutes ahead of third-placed Tony Hogg, of Dunedin.

    In the women's race, Sara Macdonald claimed her fourth annual title.

  • Nash cancels retirement plans

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    After finding out that her knee injury is not as bad as she had thought, Katerina Nash cancelled her...

    After finding out that her knee injury is not as bad as she had thought, Katerina Nash cancelled her plans to retire and will instead concentrate on racing in North America.

    "It looks like she'll be able to continue training and racing at the level she did last year," said Luna Mountain Bike Team spokewoman Alison Dunlap.

    In the coming months, the 31-year-old Nash will target races such as the two Canadian World Cups, the BC Bike stage race and the contests in Downieville, California. In the autumn, she will race cyclo-cross, including the USGP series, select World Cups and the World Championships, which happen to be in her native country of Czech.

    "Instead of trying to do every event of every series, she is going to focus on more select events, aiming for more podium finishes and victories," said Dunlap.

    Nash won several events last year and finished first overall in the US National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) short track series. She was also second in the cross country series.

  • Bromont World Cup facilities getting upgrade

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    The Mondial du Vélo and the Bromont National Cycling Centre are collaborating on an upgrade to of...

    The Mondial du Vélo and the Bromont National Cycling Centre are collaborating on an upgrade to of the facilities and programs for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup round to be held in Bromont on August 1 - 2.

    To prepare for the World Cup, organizers and their partners will have invested over CAN$200,000 over two years in order to create three totally new courses for the competitions. All circuits will feature upgrades for 2009 to make them truly World Cup level, with the award winning 4X course being turned into a permanent installation.

    "This will be one of the only permanent 4X runs in North America," said Richard Deslandes, President of the Organizing Committee. "It will provide Canadian athletes with a place to train and practice for the World Cup and World Championships."

    Prior to the World Cup, a Canada Cup will be hosted on the courses as a test event during the Canada Day weekend (July 4 - 5), providing a first look at the all-new cross country course. The first ever Canadian National 4X Championships will be held that same weekend, inaugurating the newly upgraded 4X course at the du Lac site of Ski Bromont.

    "This event will allow Canadian athletes to obtain valuable international ranking points," said Deslandes, "as well as test out the circuit prior to the World Cup."

    Bromont is one of only two North American stops on the World Cup circuit and it is one of only four total "triple" rounds, which host cross-country, downhill and 4X events. It is located in Quebec's Eastern Townships region, approximately one hour's drive east of Montreal.

  • DCM Chrome team supports developing South African talent

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    A new force in South African mountain biking, in the form of the DCM Chrome team, has been gathering...

    A new force in South African mountain biking, in the form of the DCM Chrome team, has been gathering momentum over the past few months. With 10 riders, mostly up-and-coming, the new team is officially complete.

    "There is so much mountain bike racing talent in this country and unfortunately a lot of that talent goes to waste because riders lack the means to train scientifically, ride the most appropriate equipment and compete at events that offer high international standards," said team owner and mining executive Ian van der Walt, CEO of DCM Chrome, an international chrome and manganese mining business.

    "The team plans to change that by giving talented riders full support in every respect and making sure they ride the races that matter, both in South Africa and abroad," said van der Walt, a passionate cyclist himself.

    Brandon Stewart, Max Knox, Ben-Melt Swanepoel and Jacques Janse van Rensburg form a formidable quartet that mixes young talent and seasoned class. Their priority disciplines will be marathon and stage racing, but Stewart, Knox and Swanepoel are all accomplished cross country racers too, while Van Rensburg splits his racing between mountain biking and a promising road racing career.

    Rourke Croeser, Bryce Munro and Adriaan Louw are three top male teenage talents backing them up.Justice Makhale, South Africa's top black mountain bike racer, is also on the team which boasts two women: Yolandi du Toit, who is making a smooth transition from a road career and Shannon van der Walt, an aspiring marathoner.

    Van der Walt's philosophy is one that embraces giving the riders the required tools and appropriate preparation and support to be able to reach their potential. Where necessary, Van der Walt purchases equipment to ensure the riders have the best bikes and gear available. The riders have a full-time cycling-specific coaching service and they will race Cannondale Taurine SL bikes with custom-built DT Swiss wheelsets.

    The...

  • DS-Rennsport team continues

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    After some uncertainty, the DS Rennsport team will continue for 2009. Director Robert Dorn announced...

    After some uncertainty, the DS Rennsport team will continue for 2009. Director Robert Dorn announced that the team will back three racers German Torsten Marx, Swiss Balz Weber and Austrian Steffi Wiedner. The team is surviving despite the departure of two of its major sponsors at the end of 2008.

    "We negotiated for a long time. We appreciated the confidence of the sponsors who kept their faith in us," said Dorn after securing new sponsorship from the firm of Schiller Automation Genkingen and Austrian bike manufacturer KTM. DS Racing Ltd., a clothing manufacturer, will stay on as title sponsor.

    The team will focus on the Bundesliga German national series and European World Cups.

    "We will contest the races in 2009 with a limited travel budget. With our central location we can get to many interesting races, where our three riders will show their capabilities."

    Nädele Rico will serve as team manager while Robert Dorn and Friedrich Schneider will advise the team.

  • Wiens to defend Leadville 100 title against Armstrong and possibly Landis

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Last year's Leadville Trail 100 race pitted seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong against...

    Last year's Leadville Trail 100 race pitted seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong against local and five-time Leadville winner Dave Wiens. It was a tough battle but in the end Wiens triumphed. However, Armstrong will get a chance at revenge on August 15 as both racers are planning to start the 2009 event. The 2007 Leadville runner-up Floyd Landis may also join them.

    The Leadville 100 runs a 50-mile out and back course with 14,000 feet of elevation change throughout. A lottery determined on February 1 who will get the 1,000 race entries.

    "Every one wants to ride with the man," said Race President Ken Chlouber, referring to Armstrong's participation in last year's race as well as his commitment to be at this year's starting line.

    In 2008, Wiens of Gunnison successfully defended his title by beating Armstrong by just under two minutes and setting a new course record of 6:45:45. Wiens has won the "Race Across the Sky" every year since 2003.

    Last year was Armstrong's first finish in a competitive bike race since he retired following his seventh straight triumph in the Tour de France. Shortly thereafter he announced his comeback as a professional road racer. The Leadville 100 would slot in just after the Tour de France, which Armstrong intends to race with Team Astana in July.

    "Lance may be the only racer I know of who will be using the Tour de France to train for the Leadville Trail 100," joked Chlouber.

    However, Armstrong may not be the only racer with Tour de France experience in attendance. In 2007 Wiens broke the seven-hour mark for the first time in front of second-place finisher and five-time Tour de France participant, Floyd Landis, who won the Tour de France in 2006, at least until his title was revoked after a positive doping test.

  • Chile hosting Pan Am Championships

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    The Pan American Championship, taking place in Santiago, Chile, this weekend March 20-22, has...

    The Pan American Championship, taking place in Santiago, Chile, this weekend March 20-22, has attracted a record number of participants according to the Cycling Federation of Chile, which is organizing the continental competition.

    550 cyclists from 16 countries will race in Lo Barnechea for cross country, downhill and 4X titles in elite, under 23, junior, cadet and master categories.

    Chile is pinning its own hopes on riders like Olympian Christopher Silva to help it defend the three titles the country earned at the 2008 Pan American Games. That's where Silva won the elite men's cross country. Other defenders include youth cross country champion Daniela Rojas and masters downhill champion Alejandro Cerda.

    Racing begins Friday at the Circuit La Ermita with a team relay at mid-day and the downhill in the afternoon. Cross country races will be held Saturday for masters, juniors and cadets and Sunday for elite and under 23 men and women. La Parva Bike Park will host the 4X racing on Saturday evening.

  • Zakelj overcomes serious accident to return to racing with MBK Orbea

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Under 23 women's cross country champion Tanja Zakelj, 20, has returned to racing this spring despite...

    Under 23 women's cross country champion Tanja Zakelj, 20, has returned to racing this spring despite a serious accident after the final World Cup race of the 2008 season last September. While at home helping with a project in Slovenia, she accidently had two of her fingers on her left cut off. A third one was also badly damaged.

    She was immediately transported to the hospital by helicopter and had her fingers surgically reattached in a five-hour operation. Recovery was painfully slow with several complications, but with the help of her her coach and everyone around, she completed many long days of physiotherapy in time to resume an adjusted training program in February.

    Her former team, MBK Crni Vrh gathered new sponsors, registered with the UCI and reinvented itself as MBK Orbea.

    Despite the doubts of her coach Luka Zele and team manager Primoz Strancar, Zakelj returned to racing last weekend at the Internazionali d'Italia - Trofeo Giorgio Senini. She exceeded all expectations and finished nineth overall and first in under 23 category, only 6:01 down.

    Zakelj is now looking forward to defending her rainbow jersey in Australia.

    MBK Orbea Team for 2009: Tanja Zakelj, Nina Homovec, Luka Mezgec, Luka Kodra, Blaz Znidarsic, Matjaz Budin, Nejc Rutar (DH) Staff: Primoz Strancar (team manager), Luka Zele (coach), Marko Galjot (mechanic)

  • Cape Epic teams count down

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    With just days remaining until the eight-day, 685km Cape Epic, several more favorite teams are...

    Platt and Sahm

    With just days remaining until the eight-day, 685km Cape Epic, several more favorite teams are gearing up for the action.

    Team Bulls' Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm will return to defend or better their second place from last year. The two Germans won the race in 2007, and Platt also won in 2004 when he rode with previous partner Carsten Bresser.

    "I've participated in the Absa Cape Epic since its inception - this will be my sixth race," said Platt, who is the six-time winner of the TransAlp and also a winner of the TransRockies, TransGermany, TransScwarzwald and German marathon championships. "Of course we want to win, but you never know what can happen."

    His partner Sahm, also boasts an impressive list of wins behind his name such as the TransAlp, the TransGermany, the Trans Schwarzwald, the Riva del Garda and Willingen Marathons, and the National Bundesliga.

    Platt has been sticking to his training program without any significant alterations. "Never change a winning recipe. I try to do the same every year. I think it works and hope that it will prove to be right again this year," he said. Teammate Sahm has been mixing up cross country skiing and road riding to complement his mountain bike training and racing.

    Leuchs and Alberati

    Another pairing to watch is Team Felt's Kashi Leuchs and italian Paolo Alberati. The experienced marathon rider Alberati has been summoned to replace Miguel Martinez who will not race the Cape Epic according to the recommendations of doctors treating a muscular condition aggravated by long races. Alberati is a former road racer, who has contested the Giro d’Italia and Tour Montanes.

    "I'm as excited as I would be if it were my first race," said Alberati. "The Cape Epic is the kind of competition that suits me, with stages of up to 118km in length."

    Stewart and Knox

    On the home front, Pietermaritzburg area stars, Brandon Stewart and Max Knox will...

  • Gunn-Rita diary: Just about ready to pop

    World marathon champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    One week remains before my due date and the tension is increasing daily. My belly is hard as a rock,...

    One week remains before my due date and the tension is increasing daily. My belly is hard as a rock, and sometimes feels like it's going to explode. I go for walks every day and still swim two to three times per week. I'm not in any kind of pain, so it wouldn't be right to just sit at home and wait.

    The days at home are passing quickly even though we're full of anticipation about meeting the little fellow who is inside my belly. With a certain amount of exercise, a few treatments, meetings of various kinds and a few local lectures here and there, I hardly have any empty time. Of course, I do notice that my energy level is a lot lower than normal, but I try to plan my days so there's some time for rest and relaxation on the sofa between on onslaughts.

    Kenneth is exercising for the both of us these days. He needs to stock up on fitness, as he says, so he has a reserve when it's his turn to watch the child once Mother is on the go again. We had a gorgeous day of spring here in Sandnes yesterday. I got to swim and go for a long walk, while Kenneth was out on a long distance ride. He meets many cyclists on his rides these days, so quite a few have obviously started their preparations for the Nordsjørittet race.

    Read the complete diary entry.

  • Gutierrez defeats two Olympic champions in Italy

    Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Team Giant Italia)
    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Initially, five racers led the men's race: Ralph Naef (Multivan Merida), Olympic champions Julien...

    Team Giant's Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez won the opening round ofthe Internazionali d'Italia in Montichiari on Sunday.

    Initially, five racers led the men's race: Ralph Naef (Multivan Merida), Olympic champions Julien Absalon (Orbea) and Miguel Martinez (Felt), Marco Aurelio Fontana (Cannondale) and Alvarez. Martinez seemed to be able to go more quickly than the others on lap two, but Alvarez, Absalon and Fontana quickly caught him. Naef seemed to suffer and dropped off, leaving the four to compete for the victory.

    On lap three, Alvarez increased his pace and gapped the others as he did last weekend in Banyoles. Absalon tried several times to join him and gained back about 15 seconds, but the Spaniard's pace could not be matched.

    "I tried to follow him, but he was so strong today," said Fontana. "After almost two laps I had to slow down a little bit and Martinez passed me."

    Alvarez took the win in 1:41:48 with Absalon second at 36 seconds. Martinez hung for third at 1:00 while Fontana finished fourth.

    Colnago Cap Arreghini's Nathalie Schneitter won the women's race just ahead of Eva Lechner (Colnago Arreghini Esercito) and Marielle Saner Guinchard (Team Bikepark.Ch).

    See Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Internazionali d'Italia in Montichiari.

  • Rysenko collects birthday present victory while Engen wins three of four

    Alexandra Engen and Periklis Ilias
    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Swede Alexandra Engen and Ukrainian Sergiy Rysenko earned victories in the fourth and final round of...

    Swede Alexandra Engen and Ukrainian Sergiy Rysenko earned victories in the fourth and final round of the Sunshine Cup in Voroklini on Sunday. With her win, Engin locked up the overall series title, but in the men's race, Greek Periklis Ilias overtook the men's series lead from Emil Lindgren.

    By the last lap, the men's competition appeared to be effectively decided. Alexander Wetterhall (Focus) had started an early attack and was out for a long solo effort, about one minute ahead of a five-man chase group.

    Sergiy Rysenko (ISD Cycling) then escaped off the front of this group while his teammate Christoph Bischof stayed in the group and controlled attacks.

    "Alexander Wetterhall attacked directly after the start and he was so fast, that we couldn't follow," said Bishof.

    Rysenko was looking good for second place until Wetterhall got a flat and had to run to the next technical zone to change his wheel. The Ukrainian champion Rysenko got so close that when Wetterhall jumped back on his bike after the repair, it was just ahead of his Ukranian chaser.

    After his technical difficulties, Wetterhall appeared to lose his rhythm and a bit later, he could not follow an attack launched by Rysenko on an uphill section.

    "I had super legs today. Even though I had bad luck at the end, it was a great day for me," said Wetterhal. "Shit happens. After changing the wheel, my legs were very stiff and I was not able to follow Sergiy."

    At the end, eight seconds separated Wetterhall in second and winner Rysenko, whose win was perfectly timed to coincide with his 29th birthday.

    "It is a nice birthday present for me, even though it came through the bad luck of Alexander," said Rysenkol. "I felt very strong today and I'm really happy to get a win in Cyprus."

    Periklis Ilias, also from the ISD Cycling Team, crashed on the first lap and lost contact with the chasing group. He ended up in sixth and took the overall win ahead of his...

  • South African national titles awarded

    Burry Stander was in a class of his own in winning
    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized) lived up to his pre-race favourite status and won his...

    Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized) lived up to his pre-race favourite status and won his seventh-successive national title when he dominated the elite men's race at the South African cross-country championships in George on Saturday. Yolande Speedy (IMC Racing Momentum) won the women's race, collecting her second-ever elite national title.

    On the gravity side, Johann Potgieter (Red Bull/Von Zipper) continued his George-based winning streak that started in 2006, as he went on to win the downhill title. Anka Martin took the women's title as the first South African finisher behind race winner Helene Fruhwirth (Morewood).

    Stander, the current Under 23 World Cup Champion not only retained his national Under 23 national title, but beat the elite men convincingly, coming home more than seven minutes ahead of runner-up Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin adidas). According to Stander, who regularly records such large winning margins in South Africa, the difference between him and his African rivals isn't as much physical as it is mental.

    "Physically, these guys are superb athletes, but I just have better conditioning and confidence from focusing my career on cross country racing and not racing so often," said Stander, when asked why he was so much quicker than his domestic rivals.

    "Racing regularly abroad at a quicker pace, as I have done for the past two years, gets you onto a slightly higher physical level, but it's the mental jump that's biggest and most important," said Stander, agreeing that the continued fascination with marathon and stage racing in South Africa was largely to blame for the lack of depth in cross country racing, the only mountain bike racing discipline contested at Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

    Speedy won the battle of the eras as well as the national elite women's cross country title when she beat former multiple national champion Erica Green to the gold medal. Speedy, a Beijing Olympian, scored a commanding victory...

  • Nic's piece (edition #2)

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

  • South African world cup ticket sales (Edition #2)

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

  • Team Torq diary (edition #2)

    Article published:
    March 18, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor