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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, December 21, 2012

Date published:
December 21, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Dave McElwaine's photos of the year

    Alban Lakata (Topeak Ergon) claiming victory in the Leadville 100
    Article published:
    December 16, 2012, 19:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    American photographer's dirty best

    Cyclingnews' photographer for mountain bike and cyclo-cross events, Dave McElwaine, presents his top photographic moments of 2012 in this gallery of emotion-filled images.

    McElwaine captures the grit - literal and figurative - of the off-road races, focusing in on the pain-filled faces of the competitors and zooming out to reveal the torturous courses that challenge them.

    How did he get into cycling photography?

    "My interest in photography began when I graduated from college and went to work for Polaroid as a design engineer," McElwaine said. "Twenty years later I was Director of New Business Development for Ilford Photo USA. About a decade ago I decided to combine my passion for cycling with photography, and now feel privileged to shoot races nearly every week."

    It's not all glamour for the photographers who work off-road. McElwaine battles ankle-deep mud, rocky embankments and sometimes stormy weather to capture just the right moments in the sport, the ones that tell the tale of what went on in the race.

    "Race photography turned out to be more difficult than it appeared; dealing with harsh weather, high altitude, and the time constraints of each race. But, that is what keeps it fresh and challenging for me. My goal when putting together galleries for Cyclingnews is to convey the story line and drama of each race for our readers. If art happens along the way, so much the better. it is occasionally luck, but you had to put yourself in the right place at the right time."


  • Cherise Stander to focus on marathons

    Cherise Stander, pictured here in Team USN racing strip in 2011, will be competing as a solo racer for USN in 2013.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2012, 18:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Road racer will keep racing as solo racer for USN

    After a tumultuous year, which included winning two national elite titles, getting married and enduring a highly publicised Olympic selection snub, multiple-time South African road cycling champion, Cherise Stander, opted to shift her focus to mountain bike racing in 2013.

    After racing as a member of the Momentum Toyota team in South Africa and the Lotto Belisol team in Europe during 2012, Stander is taking a break from international road racing and will focus instead on achieving success in marathon mountain biking. Stander plans to race independently and will be backed by sports nutrition supplement brand, USN.

    The 23-year-old professional racer, who married top international mountain bike racer, Burry Stander, in May, won South African titles for individual road time trial and marathon mountain bike this year, but her primary focus was the Olympic Games road race in London.

    Stander gained significant public support and media exposure during her Olympic selection appeal to South African cycling federation and Olympic officials on her omission from the Olympic team. But she dropped her appeal four weeks before the Games due to the emotional turmoil it had created within the national squad.

    Among Stander's career highlights since capturing the silver medal in the junior world champs road race in 2007, are four South African elite road titles (road race 2008 and 2010; individual time trial 2011 and 2012) and competing in the road race at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the age of 18.

    After dabbling in the occasional mountain bike race as part of her road-race training over the past two years, Stander upstaged all the pre-race favourites to claim the South African marathon title in 2012. With the 2014 marathon world championships taking place in South Africa, she decided to shift her focus for 2013.

    "I've never really...

  • Leov back onto Trek World Racing

    Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) retired from downhill racing, but will continue his pro career in enduro racing.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2012, 19:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team commits to racing the Enduro World Series

    Following the recent announcement of the upcoming Enduro World Series, Trek World Racing confirmed that it will commit to the new series. On Friday, Justin Leov also was signed in a two-year deal to focus on enduro racing.

    Leov recently retired from World Cup downhill racing, but the new enduro calendar is providing the 28-year-old with an opportunity to extend his racing career.

    "I'm really looking forward to racing a fresh new discipline. Being able to make it happen around my new career in building, with Trek World Racing providing me with all the support for my racing, is the ideal situation. It's a team that feels like family, and I know the product and the staff so well. It's the exact support I'll need to compete at the highest level in enduro."

    Leov and the team will attend at least four rounds of the Enduro World Series. There will be other selected events like the Megavalanche, and Leov will be also be aiming to regain his title as the Crankworx Garbanzo winner. When the schedules permit, he will be lending a hand to his downhill teammates trackside.

    Leov is expected to race enduros on his Trek Remedy and Slash bikes.

    An exact team schedule and co-sponsors will be announced in January.  The team announced the end of the cross country portion of its team in recent months.

  • Joseph switches to enduro racing

    Rosara Joseph is loving the new enduro format.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2012, 22:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    New Zealander gets new career off to good start with victory

    Former cross country mountain bike Olympian Rosara Joseph proved that she is well on track towards a new career in enduro racing upon winning the Urge 3 Peaks Enduro, New Zealand's first major enduro race. The competition took place on three long, challenging tracks around Dunedin.

    Joseph beat Anja McDonald by almost two minutes in a combined run time of 34 minutes and 53 seconds. Afterward, she was was full of praise of the inaugural event.

    "It was one of the best events I have ever done, super well organized, a great atmosphere and just amazing tracks," said Joseph, who decided to stop racing World Cup cross country events in 2013 to focus on the emerging enduro format.

    "I've decided I need a break from the Olympic format and enduro racing is what I'm having most fun at now. I love the atmosphere at the events, being able to enjoy the climbs, but still compete on the way down. Basically its less suffering and more fun, who wouldn't want to do this?" Joseph said.

    Local pinner Tom Lamb won the men's overall category ahead of Oceania U23 super D champion Sam Shaw (Yeti NZ). In the gravity assisted category, former junior world downhill champion Cam Cole (Yeti Cycles) and Amy Laird won the men's and women's categories.

    Joseph is also expected to race the enduro at the Rotorua Mountain Bike Festival in February along with another former World Cup pro, downhiller Justin Leov.

  • Cape Epic imposes lifetime bans for doping

    The lead bunch leaves Caledon during stage 5 of the 2012 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from the Overberg Primary & High School in Caledon to Oak Valley Wine Estate in the Elgin Valley, South Africa on the 30 March 2012
    Article published:
    December 18, 2012, 14:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike stage race also increases in-competition testing

    The Absa Cape Epic is tightening its rules regarding anti-doping by introducing a lifetime ban for future offenders in the wake of the first high-profile doping case in South African mountain biking.

    "As of January 1, 2013, any athlete (professional or amateur) caught using performance enhancing substances, whether at another event or out of competition, will be banned for life from participating in the Cape Epic," said race founder Kevin Vermaak.

    "Not only will the person not be allowed to participate (as an amateur rider or UCI-licensed elite), but the individual will also be banned from being involved on any level including as a team manager. This is harsher than what is required currently by any federation, but is our considered opinion of what should be enforced even on a wider scale with regards to event participation of convicted dope cheats."

    In November, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) announced that top cyclist and Cape Epic contender, David George, had tested positive for the banned drug, EPO (Erythropoietin) and would face a charge of doping at an independent tribunal.

    George has officially been given a two-year ban, prohibiting him from cycling professionally for this time period. SAIDS indicated that only results dating back to August 29 this year can be erased, thus George's 2012 Cape Epic results will remain unaffected. With his riding partner Kevin Evans, George finished in second place overall in this year's Cape Epic, his best performance in the event to date. George has also won the African Jersey at the Cape Epic three times (2008, 2009, and 2012) and, together with Evans, was a strong contender to be the first all South African team to...

  • Brannigan signs with 23 Degrees

    George Brannigan stands in second place on the World Cup podium in Hafjell, Norway
    Article published:
    December 19, 2012, 5:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    New Zealand downhiller optimistic about future

    New Zealand downhiller George Brannigan has signed with 23 Degrees, joining a long list of pro mountain bike athletes managed by the agency.

    "I'm excited to be under 23 Degrees' management and [for] the opportunities it offers. Now is an important time for my future and working with [23 Degrees CEO] Martin [Whiteley] can help me progress, so I'm excited for what lies ahead!"

    The 20-year-old from Hastings has been racing for the Devinci Global Racing team over the past two seasons. He showed his potential this season when he finished second at the final round of the UCI Downhill World Cup in Hafjell, Norway, just four tenths of a second behind his team leader Stevie Smith. That result, along with a number of consistent top 20 finishes, pushed him to 10th overall in the World Cup, and ninth in the UCI World Rankings.

    Brannigan is one of several New Zealand athletes whose careers have been advanced by working with 23 Degrees.

    Whiteley said, "There's something about the laid back Kiwi personality that belies their grit and determination to do well half way around the world. There is that burning desire in George and a willing to make sacrifices that I have also seen in the likes of Justin Leov, Sam Blenkinsop, Kashi Leuchs, Anton Cooper and Brook MacDonald. We're really looking forward to assisting George in his career."

  • A closer look at the 2013 US Pro XCT

    Sam Schultz (Subaru Trek) leads Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) and Derek Zandstra (Scott 3Rox Racing) after the first climb
    Article published:
    December 19, 2012, 15:59 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    National series expands to more rounds in more places

    The 2013 US Pro Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT) is undergoing several improvements for the 2013 season. USA Cycling released the calendar of its cross country mountain bike national series in mid December, and it features more rounds in more places and a revamped points system.

    Cyclingnews spoke with USA Cycling Vice President of National Events Micah Rice and 2012 Pro XCT overall champion Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) for a closer look at the 2013 series.

    A bigger series

    After several years of having just four to six events, the 2013 US Pro XCT is notably larger with nine rounds in seven states. Six of the rounds will be UCI categorized races while the remaining three will not be - a change from recent years, when UCI categorization was required for all rounds during the lead-up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

    "We had a lot of discussion internally and externally about expanding the series," said Rice to Cyclingnews. "For the past few years, we had only included UCI enlisted races, but we expanded this to include some non-UCI events this year."

    "We want to create the strongest domestic circuit we can, and we all agreed we needed to include events such as the Volkswagen Sea Otter Classic as it is always a major stop on the calendar for domestic riders and international riders alike. We always watch out for our top pros who race the international circuit, but we also need to cater to our domestic pro riders as well of which we have more than 400."

    "The UCI format works well for many venues, but for some it does not," said Rice. "We wanted to expand the series so we invited non-UCI events to apply. It is still our goal to create many points opportunities through UCI...

  • Kenda/Felt Mountain Bike Team announced

    Mitch Hoke (Cliff Bar) having a top 10 ride
    Article published:
    December 21, 2012, 12:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Hoke joins Cares and Edsall on 2013 roster

    Michell Hoke will join the Kenda/Felt Mountain Bike Team in 2013. The squad announced its roster for next season, including returning members Colin Cares and Drew Edsall.

    The trio will compete in mountain bike races including cross country, 100 milers, short tracks, stage races, eliminators and enduros.

    Hoke wrapped up the cross country season on Team USA at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. Based out of his home in Boulder, Colorado, he will pursue a full domestic cross country season and make appearances at some enduro events.

    Longtime Kenda rider Cares will return for continued success in the US Pro XCT Series as well as compete in selected European World Cups. In 2012, Cares led the Pro XCT Series for most of the year before ending the season in fourth place, behind three US Olympians. He also represented Team USA at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, his sixth trip to Worlds. A former U23 national champion, he also resides in Boulder.

    Edsall is returning for his second year with the Kenda/Felt Team. He will continue to focus on National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series races, as well as the Trans-Sylvania Epic stage race, events in which he found success in 2012. He also conducted youth and adult clinics for the Kenda/Felt Team. The Fort Myers, Florida, resident will continue to provide new mountain bike riders with access to his years of coaching and racing knowledge in 2013.

    Notably absent from the Kenda/Felt roster is former NUE Series champion Amanda Carey and her previous teammates Andy Schultz and Sage Wilderman.

    "Kenda is extremely proud to be able to continue the relationship we have had with the team as it has continued to evolve into one of the best domestic professional mountain bike teams in the United States," said Ben Anderson, North American Marketing Manager and Director of Product Development at Kenda USA. "We are excited to see Colin Cares and Drew Edsall back this...