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- Article published:
- December 16, 2012, 19:21
- 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."
- Article published:
- December 17, 2012, 18:27
- 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 focussed on marathon mountain bike races, but I know they are a lot tougher than any road race I've ever done. I need a break from international road racing but I still love competing so will contest some of the bigger South African road races in 2013.
"But my main focus will be on marathon mountain bike races. I hope to qualify to compete at the 2013 world champs for experience ahead of 2014 when we have the world champs right in our home province," said Stander, who headed up the very successful four-rider USN women's racing team in 2011.
"I'm fortunate to have the backing of USN again, a brand that's always given me huge support. USN have always given their athletes flexibility, which allows me to structure my season with my coach, Dr Jeroen Swart, according to what we feel will be the best schedule to achieve my best results. That's important when your sport is your career."
"Cherise isn't only a talented world-class bicycle racer, she's also a very good female sports role model. We like to align our brand with inspirational heroes and it's great to have Cherise as a USN ambassador again," said Albe Geldenhuys, founder and CEO of USN.
- Article published:
- December 17, 2012, 19:55
- 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.
- Article published:
- December 17, 2012, 22:01
- 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.
- Article published:
- December 18, 2012, 14:53
- 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 win the race next year.
Vermaak said, "We've chosen not to apply this retrospectively because we believe that would be naive. As has been exposed in recent months, cycling has a dark past. Many riders from this previous era have rediscovered the joy of cycling as mountain bikers and participate in the Cape Epic as their expression of riding clean. Previous offenders, who have served their suspension term, may ride future Cape Epics. We want to be part of the new era of cleaner cycling, and therefore only future offenders will receive the lifetime bans.
"Since the Cape Epic was awarded UCI HC status, we've invested more than R800,000 into our anti-doping programme at the race and to date have only recorded one positive in-competition test at the event by an amateur," said Vermaak.
That positive doping test came from amateur cyclist Wayne Collin, who tested positive for the anabolic agent Boldenone and a diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide in the most recent edition. Collin is set to appear before the SAIDS tribunal on January 24, 2013. The Cape Epic was made aware of Collin's positive test this month, nine months after the positive test. Cape Epic organizers said that Cycling SA did not notify them according to standard protocol, and as requested by the SAIDS. The race is awaiting the outcome of the SAIDS tribunal in January before amending 2012 results. Collin remains suspended from all competition until his case is concluded.
The race's anti-doping programme is overseen by the UCI appointed Doping Control Officer who works with SAIDS to test athletes. "With the financial help of our sponsors, we will increase our investment in this programme for 2013 by increasing the number of athletes tested. We'll also increase the time-window classified as in-competition testing," said Vermaak.
Organizers have been using their race to make mountain biking increasingly professional over the years. "The prize monies have been increased to R1 million in 2013 which consolidates the event's position as largest prize purse in the world of endurance mountain biking. We also provide much greater media value output for team sponsors as this year's event received over 4,000 hours of global television coverage. We feel that our uncompromising stance on dope cheats is another step in making not only South African mountain biking more professional, but also improving this discipline on a global scale. Obviously our actions alone can't keep the entire sport of mountain biking clean, but I want to be 100% certain that we, as one of the most competitive mountain bike stage races in the world, are doing everything possible to play our role in the quest to eradicate doping in mountain biking," Vermaak said.
- Article published:
- December 19, 2012, 05:23
- 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."
- Article published:
- December 19, 2012, 15:59
- 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 events, but we also see the value in creating the best circuit for the domestic riders."
2012 US Pro XCT overall winner Todd Wells shared his thoughts on the expanded series. "The series is much bigger then in the past. I'm not sure how that is going to work out because to try and race the Pro XCT, World Cup, Leadville and national and world champs is a lot of racing for me," said Wells to Cyclingnews. "There isn't much time to train during the season with such a large schedule and hardly anytime to rest. For racers with other aspirations, it makes things tough."
However, the current short track and marathon national champion and former cross country national champion acknowledged that more rounds could work well for many racers. "I think for racers just doing the Pro XCT, it's great because there is more racing, and all those venues are awesome," said Wells.
Despite the larger total number of rounds, all events will continue to count toward the overall series standings. What is different is that their will be two tiers of points: more points offered for the UCI categorized races and fewer for the non-UCI categorized races.
"We will weight the points a bit more in the favor of UCI inscripted events," said Rice. The gaps in points awarded will also be larger for the higher ranked events.
Wells is among the racers who were hoping for a tiered points system although he would have preferred a multi-tiered system that also reflected the different relative importance of each level of UCI race.
"I would like to see the races ranked based on their UCI level so a C1 would be worth more points then a C2 and worth about twice as many points as a non-UCI event. I think the points should be much more top heavy too the way the World Cup is designed, not the way the Pro XCT has been in the past where it's just a 10-point difference for each place." The new Pro XCT points system does indeed include bigger points gaps among top finishers.
Wells would also like to see the option to drop one or two races from the overall standings. "With a nine-race series, I don't think that is an unreasonable request." The ability to drop a race or races lets riders recover better from having to miss a round due to schedule conflicts or from poor results due to being ill or having a mechanical.
In the Pro XCT standings, the US Pro XCT will continue to recognize the best under 23 riders and the top teams.
Covering more ground
The bigger series covers more ground geographically than in recent years by adding stops in the northeast and the southeast. The Catamount Classic XC in Vermont is the only completely new race venue for the national series; all the other events have previously been part of the national series at some point.
The geographic expansion of the series was a deliberate move by USAC and something many racers and sponsors had requested in recent years.
"We have done our best to create a calendar that includes many parts of the US, but we can only include events that apply!" said Rice, who acknowledged that there were still a few parts of the country not visited by the series. "Hopefully we will get more interest from the Pacific Northwest and desert Southwest for 2014."
What is still to be determined are which rounds of the series will include short tracks and/or eliminators. Some, but not all of the race promoters will add a day of racing for other events. For example, the Subaru Cup in Wisconsin will host the Pro XCT cross country on Saturday, July 13 followed by a short track and then a super D on Sunday, July 14.
As one of the top cross country racers in the US, Wells is excited for the 2013 mountain bike season. He curtailed his "off-season" cyclo-cross plans to rest up after a long 2012 Olympic season so that he could be fresh for the coming year.
"I'm looking forward to all the races as each one has something special to offer. I think there is a good mixture of terrain and regions in the schedule this year. We have some flattish events, some at ski areas, some technical and some just plain fast. I hope we get a few mud races this season... feels like we never have wet national events anymore and that is great training for the World Cups."
- Article published:
- December 21, 2012, 12:10
- 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 year, and are looking forward to great things from Mitchell Hoke as he becomes a Kenda athlete."
"As a manufacturer, a relationship with a team like Kenda/Felt allows us to develop product that is put through the rigors of racing from the World Cup level to the premier ultra endurance events and everything in between," said Anderson.
Doug Martin, Sports Marketing Director of Felt Bicycles, said, "It is very rewarding to know Felt helped put the Kenda/Felt Team racers on podiums in events from cross country to 100-milers in 2012 and we look forward to even more in 2013," said . "With the return of both Colin and Drew, plus the exciting addition of Mitchell, we feel the team is poised to move to a new level. Felt has always hung its hat on racing and we are truly privileged to be associated with this program."
Kenda/Felt Team athletes will compete on the new 2013 Felt Nine hardtail frames, Edict Nine LTD 100mm dual suspension frames, and for enduro events the new Compulsion LT 1, Felt's 160mm travel frame.
Kenda/Felt MTB Team for 2013