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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, April 8, 2011

Date published:
April 08, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • National Men's Coalition takes issue with Sea Otter's Ladies Day

    The elite women on the starting line at the Sea Otter Classic
    Article published:
    April 06, 2011, 0:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Group complains of inequal treatment based on sex

    Sea Otter Classic organizers proposed for the first time in its history a celebration of Ladies Day on April 17, 2011, the final day of its annual multi-day cycling festival including racing, riding, demos and expos in Monterey, California. What they didn't expect was backlash from the National Coalition for Men (NCFM).

    The Sea Otter Classic had scheduled a series of activities, free to ladies, with the aim to promote women's and girls' involvement in the sport. Those activities included a ladies-only road ride, a mountain bike skills clinic, women's bike fit seminar, bike maintenance and cleaning seminar, nutrition seminar, women by design panel session, wine and chocolate reception and a raffle drawing.

    NCFM President Harry Crouch was unhappy that men were not included and complained of unequal treatment."Men and boys over the age of 12 had to pay $10 admission," read a statement in an article on the NCFM organization's website.

    Crouch took issue with the fact that the event would be charging men for something women received for free and with the help of his lawyers, showed how it was a violation of several California laws, and Monterey County's The Herald then published an article on the topic.

    "Mr. Crouch started making comments to us about a month ago. I suspect his organization has a 'Google Alerts' (or something similar) set up for Ladies Day, Ladies Night, Ladies Specials, etc.," explained Sea Otter President and CEO Frank Yohannan to Cyclingnews.

    "We never have and never will intentionally violate the law," he said.

    Crouch did not initially threaten a lawsuit. "He cited the Unruh Civil Rights Act, mentioned a number of court rulings, and sent us...

  • Old West showdown promised at Whiskey Off-Road Race

    Racers at the Whiskey Off Road Race in Arizona
    Article published:
    April 06, 2011, 17:57 BST
    Cycling News

    Talented pro field signed up for Arizona race

    A talented pro field is lined up for the 8th annual Whiskey Off-Road mountain bike event in Arizona on April 29 and May 1. Thus far, 76 male and female pro racers are signed up to toe the line for two stages of racing to win a large cash purse.

    Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles), Krista Park (Cannondale Racing/Stan's No-tubes), Catharine Pendrel (Luna Sport), Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joes), Monique Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) and Rebecca Rusch (Specialized Bicycles) are on the start list for the elite women's race.

    Of the 50 men registered to race, key talent includes players like Ben Bostrom (Team Sho-Air), Carl Decker (Giant Bicycles), Tinker Juarez (Cannondale Racing), Andy Schultz (Kenda/Felt Bicycles), Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain), Ben Sonntag (Cannondale Racing), Mark Weir (Cannondale Racing), Barry Wicks (Kona Bikes) and Dave Wiens (Topeak-Ergon).

    "A very interesting component to the Whiskey Off-Road Pro category is watching which type of racer will reign supreme on the challenging middle distance endurance course. With talent from both the fast-twitch and ultra endurance formats in attendance, it could be anybody’s race," said Todd Sadow, President of Epic Rides.

    Pro racing begins on Friday evening with a downtown fat tire Criterium. The 5:15 pm start time allows for an instant crowd as Prescott's workforce departs its places of employment and arrives at the other end of the sidewalk to a challenging and exciting criterium course.

    Starting on Whiskey Row at 8:30 am Sunday morning, stage two of the pro category is the exclamation point on event weekend. The pro start will be the center of attention to the amateur racing audience as they seek nourishment after a potentially raucous Saturday evening of libations and celebration in downtown Prescott.

    Racers will be vying for a US$4,000...

  • Decker and Emmett marvel at mountain biking's evolution

    Carl Decker speeds through some California singletrack at the Giant Factory Off-Road Team camp
    Article published:
    April 06, 2011, 17:58 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    More bikes, more disciplines, more fun?

    Carl Decker and Kelli Emmett have seen a lot of changes in mountain biking during their careers. The two Giant Factory Off Road Team riders talked to Cyclingnews at a recent team camp in Santa Barbara, California, about how the sport and its equipment have evolved.

    Mountain biking used to be well, just mountain biking. But times have changed. A list of current disciplines includes cross country, downhill, short track, dual slalom, eliminator, freeride, four cross, super D, marathon and other solo or team enduro single day and multi-day events.

    "It's all so fractured. It started out that if you were a mountain biker, you were a mountain biker and you used the same bike for everything," said the 35-year-old Decker who began mountain biking in 1984 and is starting his ninth season with the Giant team.

    Emmett, 33, got into mountain biking later, during the late 1990s, after a few of today's disciplines had already come into being. She is in her fifth season with the Giant team.

    "Before when I first got involved, it was downhill, cross country or dual slalom," said Emmett. "Now you see ultra events, freeride, etc. People think that the interest is mountain biking is not growing, based on what we see at cross country races, where the spectating is minimal, but I think mountain biking is still continuing to grow quite a bit - it's just splintering into different areas.

    "It's great that there is not just one standard. At the end of the day, we just want people out riding bikes," said Emmett.

    The more and different disciplines have benefited Emmett and Decker. "It's opened up areas like super D, which Carl...

  • Kulhavy and Chengyuan bolster Specialized Racing Team 2011 line-up

     Ren Chengyuan (People's Republic of China) shows off her gold medal with a big smile.
    Article published:
    April 06, 2011, 18:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Two rising talents join international mountain bike team

    The Specialized Racing Team has added two cross country World Cup level mountain bikers, Jaroslav Kulhavy and Ren Chengyuan, to its roster for 2011. The team is hoping to build on its success from 2010, during which its riders earned two World Championships, multiple National Championships and podiums in numerous marquis events around the world.

    Four returning cross country riders are aiming to see lots of podium time again this year. Swiss two-time world champion Christoph Sauser will focus on cross country for the first few events, with an eye toward a potential jump over to marathon racing if he feels his skills would be better served in that realm.

    Todd Wells will be hunting some World Cup victories this year and perhaps even repeat his stunning "triple crown" from last year, when he won US national titles in cross country, short track and cyclo-cross, while also getting on the podium in some World Cup races.

    Sauser and Wells will again be joined by 23-year-old upstart Burry Stander, from South Africa, fresh off his bronze medal at last year's Worlds.

    The sensational young star Lene Byberg of Norway returns as well, hoping to overcome last year's illness-plagued season and get back to her 2009 form when she won her first World Cup race, and placed second at Worlds and in World Cup Overall rankings.

    Sauser and Stander have already gotten the 2011 season off to a good start with a joint team victory in the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, which wrapped up this weekend.

    The group will see some tough new competition from within, as last year's breakout star Kulhavy from Czech Republic, and rising Chinese talent Chengyuan have joined the team. Kulhavy was the silver medalist at 2010 Worlds, while winning the Windham event and taking third in World Cup overall rankings. Chengyuan...

  • Neethling settles into his groove on Giant Factory team

    Andrew Neethling rides downhill (Giant Factory Off-Road Team)
    Article published:
    April 07, 2011, 14:06 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    South African looks forward to World Cup opener at home

    Andrew Neethling got his 2011 season off to an early good start with a win at the South African downhill national championships and the African continental downhill championships. The victories gave the 26-year-old South African a boost as he kicks off his season with his new squad, the Giant Factory Off-Road Team.

    "Everything is different this year," said Neethling to Cyclingnews. "I'm excited about the year and the team. It feels good."

    It was the third time Neethling won the South African Championships - the first was as a junior and he won the elite race for the first time in 2007. It's an event he doesn't always make - it's a long journey back home at a time of year that many World Cup racers still consider too early for racing.

    "It's always good to get a win at the (national) championships. I don't get to do that race much. There's quite a lot of pressure - you wouldn't think it, but you're expected to win when you come back."

    The international downhill season will get going in earnest at the triple World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on April 23. The World Cup is returning to the venue after a one-year hiatus.

    For Neethling, it's a rare chance to race against the world's best on home soil. He lives not too far away in Somerset West, about 30 minutes from Cape Town.

    "It's great to have a World Cup at home, and especially the first race of the season. We've got a good mixture of courses on the circuit this year."

    Neethling has been working hard to get himself ready for that World Cup opener. "I'm trying to be ready earlier because Pietermaritzburg is a physical track earlier in the year." Physical tracks mean more pedalling.

    While he was at home recently, Neethling got a glimpse of the World Cup downhill track. "I did a couple of runs on the new track one day. It's a similar layout to the previous World...

  • Schurter and Absalon among favorites for Racer Bikes Cup

    Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower)
    Article published:
    April 07, 2011, 20:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Lugano / Teserete hosting round two

    Following the successful season opener in Schaan two week ago, the Racer Bikes Cup will feature its second round in Lugano / Tesserete this weekend, April 9-10. For many racers, it will be the final test of legs before the World Cup season opens later this month. Olympic champion Julien Absalon, World Cup overall champion Nino Schurter, Florian Vogel and German champion Moritz Milatz will liven up the action in the men's race.

    Last year foreigners dominated the technically demanding circuit featuring lots of wooded singletrack. Absalon and Alex Vuillermoz gave the French a one-two finish and Russian Irina Kalentieva triumphed in the women's race. The best the Swiss could do was a third place by Lukas Flückiger.

    The Swiss racers hoping to keep their winning streak alive after starting it two weeks ago in Schaan, even as they take on top competition in a sort of mini-World Cup event. Schurter came out on top in Schaan.

    Vogel is one of the favorites. "I like the track. It is one of the best in Switzerland and very technical, moreover, the proportion of singletrack is enormously high," he said.

    Vogel named Absalon, Schurter and himself as his top picks for a win. "In addition to the three of us, we can't forget that the German Milatz seems very strong. Everyone wants to do well because it will be good for morale. It will certainly be a spectacle."

    "I look forward to the technical track," said Schaan champion and Vogel's Scott-Swisspower teammate Schurter.

    Another racer to watch is the 20-year-old Matthew Stirling. In Schaan, in his first elite race, he finished seventh and was the top under 23 racer. Tesserete is one of the favorite tracks of the former junior Swiss champion, who won two years ago on the same route.

    Osl and Spitz to duel in women's race

    World ranked number one Elizabeth Osl, who won in Schaan, is the favorite in the women's race, but she'll likely face a strong challenge from...

  • Aussie Search2retain team launched

    The search2retain team for 2011
    Article published:
    April 07, 2011, 21:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Combined road and mountain bike team presented

    The newly formed Australian domestic cycling team Search2retain was launched last weekend at its title sponsor's office in Port Melbourne. The team announced its intentions of becoming a well-established force in both the Australian mountain bike and road racing scene for 2011 and beyond. With a diverse crop of young and experienced road and mountain bike riders, the packed search2retain offices were buzzing with anticipation on how the 2011 season would pan out for this new combo-style team.

    Team Director and Search2retain Managing Director Peter Shandon was excited for the 2011 season with already some good results starting to show, but conceded the team was a long term venture and would need time to show its real power on the mountain bike and road racing circuits.

    Breaking barriers

    23-year-old Rider Scott Liston touched on the divide that he sees as a racer of both disciplines. He expressed concern that for what he called a stigma of a divide between mountain bikers and roadies which he feels has hindered the development of Australian cyclists.

    "The two disciplines of cross country mountain bike racing and road racing compliment each other incredibly well. It's amazing there aren't more combined teams out there," said Liston.

    "In a perfect cycling community self proclaimed 'roadies' would compete in mountain bike events, and mountain bikers would compete in road events, we would all be labelled as cyclists and at the elite level the riders would benefit from larger fields with more competition."

    The team and sponsors acknowledge their team of combined disiciplines as a bold move within Australian cycling and a way to help close the stigmatised gap between roadies and mountain bikers.

    Search2retain's plan for 2011 is to compete in all National Road Series (NRS) and national mountain bike sanctioned events, also including big named events such as the 2011 NSW Criterium Series, the 2012...

  • 2011 Fort William World Cup launched

    Local heroes Joe Barnes and Fergus Lamb get ready for take off at Aonach Mor ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup.
    Article published:
    April 08, 2011, 10:18 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Scottish Superheroes fly into action to launch

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's a flying mountain biker. Two of Scotland's young mountain biking hopefuls, Joe Barnes and Fergus Lamb, descended on Aonach Mor sporting superhero costumes, as they prepare for the return of the the full cast of downhill superheroes to Scotland. The Nevis Range ski area, just outside Fort William, will host the second round of the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill and four cross tour, which will take over the Highland town on June 4-5.

    The sport's downhill superheroes, from more than 25 different countries, will be joined by thousands of fans, as they return to the scenic Scottish Highlands for another adrenaline-packed weekend of world-class gravity racing action.

    This year's downhill is set to be another thriller as Britain's Gee Atherton, the reigning World Cup overall champion, tries to defend his Fort William World Cup crown. Also racing for the top spot are a string of UK contenders, who all finished in the top fifteen at Fort William last year, including Steve Peat, Josh Bryceland, Marc Beaumont, Brendan Fairclough and Danny Hart.

    In the women's downhill there is more British talent, with reigning World Champion Tracy Moseley - a four-time winner at Fort William - taking on Rachel Atherton, who is hungry for victory, having come in a close second to French power-house Sabrina Jonnier at last year's event.

    Rising Scottish stars Ben Cathro from Oban and former Junior World Champion Ruaridh Cunningham from Stow, in the Scottish Borders, will also join Barnes and Lamb as they charge down the 2.6km long course to the deafening sound of the home crowd.

    Barnes, 22, from Fort William has been racing for seven years. "I can't wait for the Fort William World Cup - the best thing about it is the atmosphere. It's a massive event and you can always count on it having the biggest crowds and...