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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, July 12, 2013

Date published:
July 12, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Fumic returns to racing at Bundesliga finals in Saalhausen

    Alexandra Engen, elite women's winner in Saalhausen 2012
    Article published:
    July 04, 2013, 10:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Engen is the favorite in the women's race

    The 2013 International MTB-Bundesliga series will come to end this weekend in Germany. In the men's final race, Manuel Fumic will make his comeback and will challenge three-time Saalhausen winner, Moritz Milatz, as well as defending champion Emil Lindgren. Alexandra Engen is the woman to beat in the elite women's category, and she is also the top favorite for the sprint eliminator race on Saturday.

    Fumic is hoping for an exciting comeback after being on the sidelines due to injury. The 31-year-old German champion will ride his first race seven weeks after he had broken his broken collarbone in training before the World Cup in Albstadt.

    "I feel good in training, but feeling good in training and winning races are two different things," said Fumic.

    The Cannondale pro should be able to keep up at least in the first part of the race. The fact that he will be competing with Milatz among others, makes things even more interesting. Next week at the German National Championships, the BMC athlete will be the main challenger for Fumic.

    "I'm pleased that Mani is back," said Milatz.

    Milatz is aiming for his fourth win in Saalhausen this weekend. "That was not really in my plan before the season, but when the opportunity is there, it would be nice to win the race," said the 2012 European champion.

    He is also looking forward to the German National Championships in Bad Salzdetfurth. "Racing to improve his form" is his motto for the weekend. He is playing with the idea of taking part in the eliminator. "I always have problems in the first lap. So, perhaps a start in the sprint isn't a bad idea," said Milatz.

    German U23 champion Markus Schulte-Lünzum is the hometown favorite for the host state North Rhine-Westphalia. He is also the current U23 World Cup leader, but he will be racing with the elites this weekend. He has a small mathematical chance of winning in the final standings, but he definitely has a shot on the...

  • Croeser has high hope for mountain bike Worlds

    Rourke Croeser of South Africa
    Article published:
    July 04, 2013, 18:45 BST
    Cycling News

    U23 rider logs training time on Cascades course

    Leading South African under 23 cross country mountain biker Rourke Croeser has set his sights on a stellar performance during the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa from August 26 - September 1 as he looks to make full use of his wealth of international racing experience as well as the advantage of racing at home.

    Having grown up in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal's Zululand region, Croeser was then fortunate to have spent two years living in Europe and competing on the local mountain bike circuit, something he feels has helped him immensely in his journey as an under 23 competitor thus far.

    However, with Ballito on KZN's North Coast where he now calls home and regular training trips and competing in countless races at Cascades, Croeser is relishing the opportunity August's global spectacle presents.

    "I have really high hopes for the world champs," said Croeser. "I've been to Worlds since I was a junior and this will be my fifth World Champs I've competed in, so I now know what to expect, and I'm really looking forward to this year's event."

    "The fact that the event is being held at Cascades is also a huge benefit to us locals. We can go up there and train on the course whenever we like and we race there all the time.

    "Just last week, I was up there twice in five days, riding sections over and over again, and in the next 10 weeks building up to world champs, I will complete over 60 laps of the course in world champs' specific training, which can only be a good thing!" said the Orange Monkey rider, who competes in the colours of Kargo MTB Pro team locally.

    Familiarity with the route and surroundings, the comfort of being close to home and the support of the local crowd are all small elements on their own however when added together, Croeser believes play a vital role in developing a smooth routine in the period just before race day - a huge advantage he will...

  • Bear Creek Resort readies US Mountain Bike Nationals course

    Nick Sears racing at Bear Creek, which is hosting the 2013 US Cross Country National Championships
    Article published:
    July 08, 2013, 18:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Cross country loops set for pros and amateurs

    The countdown is on to the 2013 US Cross Country Mountain Bike Nationals on July 19-21, and organizers have been busy preparing the course for the thousand-plus racers expected. Cyclingnews spoke with Bear Creek Events Manager Gary Kline about this year's course. US Cross Country Nationals will be held at the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania venue both this year and again in July of 2014.

    As in recent years, the elite riders will race a shorter course than the amateurs. With nationals making its first trip back east since 2008, racers can expect very different course and weather conditions from the past four years in Colorado and Idaho. Rocks, roots and plenty of heat and humidity are in the forecast.

    "It's going to be a technical course. We're famous for our rocks and our downhill switchback trails. The downhill, technical trails make us unique," said Kline to Cyclingnews. "It will be challenging. Skills will play a big role in the outcome of the race."

    Kline said, "The pros will race a shorter, UCI-style lap. We're going to combine a little bit of what we already had here at Bear Creek, including the sections which make us unique like our old mining roads switchbacking up one hillside and the rocky, technical singletrack going down the other side of the slope."

    Bear Creek added some features into the ski slope area to make the course more spectator-friendly. Some of the ski slope features include a flat rock that was filled in with dirt and made into a rock drop, the signature feature for the pro course. Following the drop, riders fly around a berm-y turn before crossing another ski slope, riding over a triple log crossing and dropping off one more rock ledge.

    Last year's cross country course in Sun Valley, Idaho featured a long steep, fireroad ascent before descending a swoopy, smooth singletrack descent back toward the finish.

    When asked to describe this year's course,...

  • South Africa names team for mountain bike Worlds

    Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate
    Article published:
    July 09, 2013, 11:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Largest Worlds team yet for the African host nation

    Cycling South Africa's Mountain Bike Commission selected its riders for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships taking place in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa from August 26 to September 1.

    With the world champs taking place at home, in South Africa this year, the nation gets to send a full quota of seven riders in each category including men and women juniors, under 23s and elites.

    To make full use of this opportunity, Cycling SA's Mountain Bike Commission decided to apply a policy of maximum participation, and thus to fill the available entry quota. This was drafted into the team selection policy, as a special dispensation for 2013. However, riders were still assessed on the basis of their performances and commitment in the nominated selection races.

    "This has resulted in the selection of the biggest team that South Africa has entered in a world championship. Particularly gratifying is the fact that we have been able to select four development riders to the team for the first time. We wish our riders well, and are confident that living, racing and absorbing this experience will have a positive impact on their lives and their future in the sport," read a statement from the federation.

    Some of the best known riders named to the South African team include cross country stars Philip Buys and Yolande Speedy and downhillers Greg Minnaar and Andrew Neethling.  Minnaar is the current downhill world champion.

    South African team for 2013 Mountain Bike Worlds

    Elite men cross country
    Philip Buys
    Matthys Beukes
    Stuart Marais
    Max Knox
    Renay Groustra
    Ben-Melt Swanepoel
    Luthando Fatyi

    Elite women cross country
    Yolande Speedy
    Samantha Sanders
    Amy Mcdougall
    Cherie Vale
    Melanie Palframan
    Kim Westbrook
    Cherise Stander

    Under 23 men cross country
    Rourke Croeser

  • Minnaar meticulously planning ahead of mountain bike Worlds

    "The only option I have is to ride off the pressure,” said Greg Minnaar ahead of the UCI MTB World Championships which take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 21-25 August.
    Article published:
    July 10, 2013, 14:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Downhill world champ hopes to defend title on home turf

    Defending downhill world champion Greg Minnaar is well into his 2013 international season, which will ultimately lead to the world championships in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He is eager to test his new equipment, avoid pressure and gradually build to his world title defence at the Cascades MTB Park in August.

    After a disappointing opening round of the UCI World Cup series, he returned to better form for the second round before heading to Val d'Allos where he made the podium in the Enduro World Series race and grabbed a stage win.

    "I feel more on track now," said Minnaar. "The season started a little too steady for my liking. Round 2 of the World Cup went a lot better for me. Then we went to Val d' Allos, where I finished third overall and got my first stage win... I was pretty stoked with that."

    While enduro races may seem like something of a diversion for the downhill supremo, they have provided a release and an opportunity to work on his rhythm.

    "Enduro is something I've always liked and now that they have formed a world series it makes sense for me to ride," said Minnaar.

    Minnaar and his Santa Cruz Syndicate team have also finished another round of equipment testing before the resumption of the World Cup circuit.

    "We've just finished a week of testing in the South of France," said Minnaar. "We want to make sure where we are for the next couple of World Cups before we head to world championship. My trainer Stephane Girrard knows me well, and we will enter the world champs in the right condition."

    Minnaar has a firm plan in place for the lead up to the world champs at the Cascades downhill course that he knows well. He is, however, a believer in not overtraining on the course so that he can stay fresh.

    "I know the area well as I have grown up...

  • Bishop and Wells continue Pro XCT battle at Subaru Cup

    Sam Schultz (Subaru Trek) races through the Trek Fire Lane. Schultz arrived in Wisconsin directly from the London Olympics one week prior.
    Article published:
    July 11, 2013, 10:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Pro XCT heads to Wisconsin for penultimate round

    The battle for the US Pro XCT series crown is heading to Wisconsin for a weekend of racing. The Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) and its Subaru Cup event are playing host to the penultimate round of the US cross country national series. In addition to the cross country on Saturday, racers will compete in a short track and super D on Sunday.

    2013 is the third consecutive year that the Subaru Cup Pro XCT has been awarded UCI Category 1 status on the international mountain bike calendar. The UCI category 1 designation attracts racers interested in chasing UCI points. In previous years, this has included teams from Canada, Mexico and several Olympians returning home from the London Olympics in 2012.

    The tight contest between Todd Wells (Specialized) and Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) for the men's top spot in the Pro XCT standings is ongoing. Both Wells and Bishop are confirmed for the start. Wells, who won the US marathon championships last weekend, is bringing along his teammate Howard Grotts for reinforcement while Bishop will have assistance from his teammate Max Plaxton. Bishop currently leads with 1195 points to Wells' 1135 points.

    Both top favorites will be further challenged by US cross country national champion Sam Schultz (Trek), cyclo-cross star Ryan Trebon and Australian Sid Taberlay.

    In the women's race, series leader Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers Racing) is one of the top favorites. She has 705 points to current runner-up Lea Davison (Specialized) with 660 points. World Cup regular Katerina Nash (Luna) and freshly crowned US marathon champion Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Cannondale) are other contenders for the win.

    Outstanding spectator turnout and amateur participation are hallmarks of events hosted by WORS, and the Subaru Cup is no exception. At the 2012 Subaru Cup, hundreds of enthusiastic fans lining the course led many pro racers to draw favorable comparisons to the atmosphere at a World Cup race....

  • Pendrel recovers from broken collarbone

    The final spot on the podium was filled by Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team)
    Article published:
    July 11, 2013, 18:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Canadian will sit out nationals and Andorra World Cup

    2011 cross country world champion and 2012 World Cup champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna) is recovering after breaking her collarbone while mountain biking.

    "Sometimes you approach a jump with too much zest and enthusiasm and speed works against you," wrote Pendrel on her blog. "You make a last minute adjustment and end up landing on your head and then shoulder and the next thing you know that little clavicle bone has broken."

    "At 32, I have had my first broken bone and real racing set back. I guess so many years of smooth flowing paths allows you to accept the fact that occasionally you’ll hit a rough patch."

    Pendrel is disappointed to have to sit out the Canadian mountain bike national championships next weekend. She had been looking forward to a battle with fellow Olympian Emily Batty. She'll also miss the next round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Andorra in late July, but she is hopeful to be back in good form for the mountain bike world championships in late August.

    She is expecting to return to racing at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup in Quebec, Canada.

  • Lakata and Mennen target TransAlp title defense

    Sally Bigham (Topeak Ergon) in the TransAlp race
    Article published:
    July 12, 2013, 9:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Bigham racing with different partner

    Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen (Topeak Ergon) are ready to defend their TransAlp mountain bike stage race title starting this weekend. The 16th edition of the TransAlp will kick off on Saturday in Mittenwald, Germany, with 1,000 racers, all part of two-person teams which will cover 675km.

    "I am looking forward to the TransAlp. I am in good shape and very confident," said Lakata, who recently won a silver medal at the marathon Worlds. "This year will not be easy, a lot of the other teams are looking out for us."

    Mennen said, "We want to win the title again, that is for sure! But the cards are getting re-shuffled every year. I think this will be an exciting race. Every stage counts, the race ends in Riva del Garda, we learned that in 2012."

    Lakata and Mennen's teammate Sally Bigham will also be aiming to repeat her TransAlp success of last year in the women's category.

    "I spent a relaxed week in the Dolomites and didn't train too much - now I am ready for this hard race," said Bigham.

    The British woman will race with a different partner than usual. Her teammate Milena Landtwing underwent surgery on her thumb, so Bigham will team up with Borghild Loevset from Norway instead.

    "It is important to have a good and harmonic mood inside the team. Borghild is a strong uphill rider, just like me. The course profile looks good for us."