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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, April 6, 2012

Date published:
April 06, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Haselbacher takes to the mountain bike in Cape Epic

    Rene Haselbacher at the start of Cape Epic
    Article published:
    April 02, 2012, 13:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Former road pro finishes 22nd in South African race

    Former pro rider Rene Haselbacher has finished the ABSA Cape Epic in 22nd place, along with his partner Renay Groustra. The South African mountain bike stage race featured a prologue and seven stages.

    Haselbacher rode professionally for Gerolsteiner (1999-2006), Astana (2007-2008) and Vorarlberg-Corratec before retiring in 2010. He has since moved from Austria to South Africa.

    Since retiring from the road, “I have become a big MTB fan, have ridden the Crocodile Trophy in Australia twice. I simply enjoy the difference bween road cycling and MTB, it is probably like the difference between Formula One and rally sport. For me, this Cape Epic  was not a comeback, I simply wanted to taste the race atmosphere again.”

    The event is always entered by two-person teams. Things started out hard for “Hasi” and Groustra, but then got better every day. “There were some very hard days with great single trails and many passages you had to run. The mood here with so many onlookers was super. We could successively fight our way up and in the end landed in 22nd place.

    “We hadn't expected this result, especially because I only had three weeks to get ready. But after 14 years as pro cyclist, my body could take the hardships well. I still have a big racing motor, it had just gotten a little rusty..." 

  • Video: 2012 Cape Epic all wrapped up

    Denver Knoetzen proposes to his girlfriend on the finish line of the final stage (stage 7) of the 2012 Cape Epic
    Article published:
    April 03, 2012, 20:06 BST
    Cycling News

    Highlights from eight days of mountain bike stage racing

    The dust has barely settled after the end of the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race and many foreign athletes are well underway on their epic travel journeys homeward. Missed any action from last week or want to remember the highlights from all eight days of racing? The videos from each stage below summarize all the action.

    In the men's race Christoph Sauser & Burry Stander (36One-Songo-Specialized) beat South African duo Kevin Evans & David George (360Life).

    "The Cape Epic is a story. Every day is a chapter and that makes it so amazing," said Stander after winning. "Now we know the yellow jersey is ours. Until now it felt like we were borrowing it. Nothing compares to it. I have enough time to recover before the big events of the season start."

    "Every year, the Cape Epic gets harder, the intensity is much higher. Crossing the finish line here at Lourensford Wine Estate is the best feeling of the whole week," said Sauser, who also won in 2006 and 2001. "It's so big for us and good for the confidence and looking forward to the rest of the season our form is great. This is my third victory overall in this race and it's such a great feeling."

    In the women's race, Sally Bigham & Esther Süss (Wheels4Life) won every stage but the fifth on their way to winning the overall. Theresa Ralph & Nina Gässler (Biogen Britehouse) and Karien van Jaarsveld & Jane Nuessli (MTN Qhubeka Ladies) rounded out ladies' podium.

    "Right now, it is party time," said Bigham immediately after the finish. She noted that this win was better than the previous year's win because "we were such a good team, so strong - it makes it even more rewarding - exhausting, but such great fun. I loved every minute."

    Married couple Erik & Ariane Kleinhans (Contego 28E) dominated the mixed category while Bart Brentjens & Jan Weevers (World Bicycle Relief)...

  • 2012 London Olympic mountain bike course improved

    Catharine Pendrel (Canada) celebrates her victory at the Hadleigh Farm International
    Article published:
    April 04, 2012, 19:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Racer feedback leads to more climbing, technical features, wider track

    Organizers of the 2012 London Olympic Games are making a few changes to improve the mountain bike course in Hadleigh Castle in Essex. The Olympic course will get more passing room, more technical features and more climbing according to the BBC.

    The changes come after organizers took into account feedback from racers following last year's Olympic Test Event. Racers had said that the course was too flat and too narrow.

    "It is wider and higher than for the Test Event and with the stunning setting of Hadleigh Farm, we are looking forward to a world-class Olympic event," said Debbie Jevans, LOCOG's Director of Sport to the BBC.

    Passing will be increased at a few places on the course, including on the switchbacks on climbs. In addition, organizers have lengthened the main climb and added another technical feature into it.

    The man-made course will be 4.7km long. On the first lap, racers will do a special start loop with extra passing and another climb added to it.

    Fifty elite men and 30 elite women will compete in the Olympic mountain bike races on August 11 and 12 respectively.

    Some racers are expected to return to test ride the revised Olympic course shortly after round 2 of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium on April 15-16.

  • Video: Juarez and Grant go long for Cannondale

    Tinker Juarez (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    April 04, 2012, 22:45 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Factory team supports two endurance mountain bikers

    In addition to its World Cup-oriented team, the Cannondale Factory Racing squad is supporting two endurance mountain bike racers in 2012: Tinker Juarez and Alex Grant.

    Juarez, 50, may be one of the best known riders in the sport. He's been part of Cannondale's various mountain bike teams for an impressive 18 years straight.

    "I've been lucky. I'm thankful," said Juarez, who resides in Los Angeles, California. "Being part of the team has been fun, and it's kept me focused all the time on my riding and my training. I've learned how to appreciate it, and I know what it takes each year. I've just kept on."

    Juarez was racing in the heyday of the sport of mountain biking, when old school cross country racing was super popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. As the sport has evolved, so has Juarez's career.

    "I was always focused on the short stuff in cross country. As the years went by, it started getting faster and after about 2000, I realized the level had picked up and my motivation was changing. I noticed that my training was paying off more on long distances. There were more longer distance races and Cannondale was excited about it. For me, it was time to move on." Ever since, he's been racing more endurance oriented events all around the globe.

    Cyclingnews asked Juarez at a recent team camp about what keeps him going considering that doing anything day after day for 18 years can get stale.

    "I look at people that go to work every day. How do they stay motivated?" he said. "They go to work every day whether or not they want to. Some days they do, some days they don't. I look at this as my job and I get paid for it. I get to go out and ride for a living, so there is more incentive to feel lucky about it. I know that if I stop...

  • Olympic torch to visit Fort William World Cup

    Gee Atherton (Commencal) negotates a technical track at Fort William on his way to a World Cup round win.
    Article published:
    April 05, 2012, 18:18 BST
    Cycling News

    Plans released for post-Olympic use of MTB course

    The Olympic torch will visit the Fort William round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup when it passes through the Scottish Highlands event on June 9.

    The torch will stop over at Fort William during its 70-day journey from Lands End to London for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. More than 8000 people will relay the torch through the country.

    According to the UCI, although details are yet to be confirmed, the torchbearer in Fort William will probably take the ski lift up to the start of the downhill course.

    Ironically, the Fort William round of the World Cup features gravity events again this year while the only Olympic mountain bike discipline is cross country. Fort William has previously hosted both World Cup and world championship cross country races.

    Olympic mountain bike course's future decided

    The Olympic cross country mountain bike course in Essex will be modified by the Essex County Council and the Salvation Army and then opened to the public after the Olympics according to the BBC.

    Assuming the Castle Point Borough Council approves the plans, the course will open to the public in 2013.

    After the Olympic mountain bike races on August 11 and 12, the course will get some new, easier lines around the most difficult parts to make them more public-friendly. The changes should make the course ride-able for all levels of mountain bikers.

    Finally, the venue will also get a new visitor centre, and existing paths and nature trails will get a facelift.

    Funding to accomplish the project is still to be determined.

    The decision comes after locals had requested the venue remain open to the public following...

  • Gold Rusch Tour expands for 2012

    Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) trying to decide whether to go out for one more lap
    Article published:
    April 05, 2012, 20:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Series of events promotes women's cycling

    Endurance mountain bike pro Rebecca Rusch (Specialized Racing) is back in action with her SRAM Gold Rusch Tour for the second year in 2012 with the purpose of encouraging more participation of women in cycling. The three-time Leadville 100 winner and the three-time 24-hour solo World Champion will visit several US states, Canada and France as she spreads her love of mountain biking.

    "Our inaugural Gold Rusch Tour last year was such a success that we wanted to expand for the 2012 tour. Of course our goal is to empower woman and girls to get on their bikes, but we also want to create a strong sense of community," said Rusch.

    "I'm seeing more and more women on the trail. It's awesome to get young girls and women of any age excited about the sport. I'm living proof that it's never too late to learn to ride a bike."

    Rusch made the transition to racing her bike from adventure racing and is one of the few female pros over 40 out on the circuit.

    2012 SRAM Gold Rusch Tour

    April 19-22: Sea Otter Ladies Lounge in Monterey, California. Drop by the SRAM booth and meet your favorite female pros. Ask questions, check out new gear and listen in on our mini tech clinics. Rusch and the other pros will also host short ride clinics and pump track sessions.

    May 17-20: Dirt Rage Dirtfest Dirty Girls Clinics in Raystown, Pennsylvania. Join Rusch and SRAM/Specialized female athlete, Katie Holden for Specialized demos and free ride clinics during the three-day mountain bike festival.

    July 4-9: Sun Valley Media Camp in Sun Valley, Idaho. By invite-only, eight lucky female representatives will meet Rusch, Holden, Meredith Miller and Lea Davison for a personal tour of the world class riding in Sun Valley. The camp coincides with USAC...

  • Jude recruited to race Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro

    Hayden Jude
    Article published:
    April 06, 2012, 0:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Indigenous rider blazes new trail in mountain bike race

    A young Alice Spring indigenous athlete is blazing a new trail as a role model in a sport not usually known for attracting interest in the broader Aboriginal community. Twenty-year-old Hayden Jude will be the first ever indigenous youth to participate in the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro, a multi-stage bike race that covers 251km over five days of racing from May 14-18, 2012, in Australia.

    Jude, a boiler maker who works for Alice Springs-based Ingkerreke Commercial, heard about the race when approached by General Manager, Ingkerreke Commercial, Scott McConnell.

    "I have never taken part in mountain biking before but I am a competitive BMX rider," says Jude, who pointed out the differences between the two sports.

    "I am learning that they require different muscles!"

    Jude is proud to be taking the lead as an indigenous mountain biker by participating in the enduro. "I feel good about the idea that there are no other well known Indigenous mountain bikers. My community and friends are very supportive and pleased that I am taking part. And it's good to show my community - and people from outback regions in general - that there is something different to football that they can have a go at."

    Since signing on to compete, Jude has taken to the singletrack bike trails around Alice Springs with gusto as part of his training.

    "They are pretty rough and rocky trails, but fun to ride and definitely helping to improve my skills," said Jude. "I am also getting in some road riding in the morning before work to increase my general fitness level."

    The distances involved in the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro will present a challenge, according to Jude who is more accustomed to rolling over distances in the hundreds of metres on enclosed BMX tracks rather than the open 251km of trails he'll encounter in the Enduro.

    "It makes me feel scared...

  • New Santa Cruz-X Fusion team gets underway

    Max Houtzager in action
    Article published:
    April 06, 2012, 21:05 BST
    Cycling News

    American mountain bike team focuses on cross country, enduros

    A new cross country and enduro focused team, Santa Cruz-X Fusion, is focusing on elite and U23 mountain bike races at select US Pro XCT and North American enduros for the rest of the 2012 season. Colby Pastore is managing the team that also includes Will Curtis and Max Houtzager.

    "I couldn't be more stoked on the set-up we have for 2012," said Curtis. "Like any team, Santa Cruz-X Fusion is race-driven, and I am no exception to that rule. What makes this team so awesome is that we are all brought together by more than competitiveness and results."

    "My hope for this program is to combine that drive for racing with our general love for mountain biking and its lifestyle so that we may become better racers, riders, and ambassadors for the sport. With the support that we have from the cycling industry and friends, I know that we have the tools to reach this potential."

    All three young racers came up the ranks with multiple seasons on the Whole Athlete-Specialized Junior/U23 Development Team, where they learned to race at the national and World Cup level. Products of racing in the NorCal High School League as well as enduro and downhill races such as Downieville, the Northstar series, Oregon Super D series, Ashland Mt. Challenge, and the Crankworx Enduro, they know how to train for endurance, but also how to get rad on descents.

    Residing in Marin and Santa Cruz, the trio is a stone's throw from their sponsors and good trails for testing, training, and having fun, an ideal set up for product development and preparation for some good results.

    "It's fantastic to be supporting such a driven group of young individuals with their racing efforts," said X-Fusion Marketing Manager John Hauer. "Santa Cruz X-Fusion's interest and ability to race in an array of endurance and gravity events shows their true passion for riding bikes and is refreshing to see and to be a part...