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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, March 11, 2011

Date published:
March 11, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Cycling legend Frischknecht teams up with Gerig for Cape Epic

    Thomas Frischknecht (Team Rwanda) during the Cape Epic stage 3 from Ceres to Ceres
    Article published:
    March 08, 2011, 20:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Two to have fun in masters' category

    Seventeen-time World Cup Winner and Olympic medallist Thomas Frischknecht, one of the most prolific winners of cross country events of all time, will be partnering with sporting legend Urs Gerig for this year's Absa Cape Epic. As the World Cup Marathon Champion in 2003 and 2005, as well as the World Cup Cross Country Champion in 1996, Frischknecht will return to the Cape Epic. He cites the special "spirit of the event" as one of his reasons.

    Since its inaugural race in 2004, the Cape Epic has grown into the largest mountain bike team stage race in the world - and the only team stage race to be added to the International Cycling Union (UCI) calendar. The race annually hosts the world's most accomplished mountain bike riders. This year, it will run from March 28 to April 3 over 707km.

    The 40-year-old Frischknecht needs no introduction. Often referred to as Europe's Elder Statesman of mountain biking due to his extraordinarily long career at the top level of the sport, he established himself as a professional since 1990. "Frischi" finished second in the 1996 Mountain Bike World Championship and has been at the top of his game since then. He has been Swiss Champion for several years and also the 2005 Marathon World Champion. He advocates staying "fit for life" and also encourages dope-free racing and is considered an example of a clean sportsmanship.

    His Cape Epic teammate and best friend Urs Gerig, 45, is a former middle distance runner and triathlete, as well as Frischknecht's former masseur and fitness coach. Gerig has written a variety of books on mountain biking, hiking and so forth and is a top finisher in Switzerland's Gigathlon in the last few years.

    "Due to the fact that we're best friends - that makes us a team, no matter what happens," said Frischknecht.

    "Not so long ago, Thomas was one of the best riders in the world. He is still very fit and rides...

  • Virginia Off Road Series getting underway

    The trail conditions were perfect today at the Massanutten HooHa!
    Article published:
    March 08, 2011, 20:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Rain delays start of state-wide mountain bike series

    The 2011 Virginia Off Road Series is getting off to a slightly later than planned start after wet, rainy weather postponed the first round, which had been scheduled for March 6. Nonetheless, the series will go forward, starting on March 13, still with a planned 27 races participating.

    The Camp Hilbert opener has been postponed until April 10 although there's no word yet on when the second Camp Hilbert event, originally set for that date, will be rescheduled.

    The series has grown in recent years, with the including of longstanding, well-known regional events like the Massanutten Hoo Ha! in Harrisonburg, Virginia; the Middle Mountain Momma near Clifton Forge, Virginia; and the oldest race in the state, the Tidewater Challenge, in Williamsburg, Virginia.

    "We enjoy creating relationships and keeping them alive year after year," said George Willetts, part of the Massanutten Hoo Ha! race organization upon discussing its inclusion into the VORS. The race is also part of the West Virginia Mountain Bike Series (WVMBA) and is a US Cup Triple Crown-affiliated event. It will offer cross country, super D and short track events.

    The Virginia series covers events throughout the state, also visiting Danville, Maidens, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Bedford, Quantico, Culpepper, Damascus, St. George, Wintergreen and Wakefield.

    Find out more information on the series or specific events.

    2011 Virginia Off Road Series (VORS)
    March 6 - Camp Hilbert, Maidens (postponed until April 10)
    March 13 - Shootout on Anglers Ridge, Danville
    March 20 - O'hill Meltdown, Charlottesville
    March 27 - Ride the Ridge, St. George
    April 10 - Camp Hilbert 2, Maidens (new date TBD)
    April 16 - Ford 1, Fredericksburg,
    April 23 - VA Cup Off Road Duathlon
    May 1 - Middle Mountain Momma, Clifton Forge

  • Pierre's Hole 100 joins National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series

    Peter Hudnut at the Pierre's Hole Mountain Bike Race
    Article published:
    March 09, 2011, 0:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Wyoming event set for 2011

    The Pierre's Hole 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race in Alta, Wyoming, is one of three events added to the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series for 2011.

    Pierre's Hole, a mountain valley tucked up to the Wyoming border on the western side of the Tetons, was once known as the strategic center for fur trade in the Northern Rockies. Today, it is known as the strategic gathering place to ski unfathomable deep powder and ride some of the best unknown singletrack in the nation.

    Some fortunate souls will get to enjoy that singletrack pleasure on August 6 at this year's edition of the Pierre's Hole 100. The race course is situated under the Le Tres Tetons, or the three Tetons (Grand, Middle, and South Teton). It features singletrack loops from the Grand Targhee Resort (GTR) as well as descending Mill Creek and ascending the Teton Canyon via drainages wrapped with singletrack. Breathtaking views under magnificent peaks may not be so well noticed by racers as their heartrates max out during the grunt up Teton Canyon.

    The race will start and finish at the Grand Targhee Resort. The Pierre's Hole 100 consists of a 25-mile loop done four times. Each lap features over 4,600 feet of climbing on mostly single and doubletrack trails. A shorter, two-lap, 50-mile race is also an option.

    Last year's race profits went to the non-profit Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (TVTAP), which focuses on providing human powered connectivity throughout the valley. The Pierre's Hole 100 has the goal of doubling last year's donation to this non-profit with the intention of supplementing funding for future maintenance and enhancement of the trail system.

    Registration opened on March 7. Find out more information about the race.

  • US Pro XCT and Triple Crown open this weekend in Bonelli Park

    Fresh singletrack at Bonelli Park
    Article published:
    March 09, 2011, 21:10 GMT
    Ty Kady

    Start list looks like a who's who of North American cross country racing

    The US national cross country series, the US Pro XCT, will kick off this weekend, March 12-13 at Bonelli Park, in San Dimas, California. Bonelli Park is well known as a stop in the Triple Crown All Mountain Pro Series from last year, and for 2011, its opening cross country race on Saturday will also serve as the US Pro XCT stop number 1.

    The Bonelli Park cross country offers the first UCI points available in the United States in 2011. With the added Triple Crown All Mountain Cash, including US$10,000 series overall purse for the top three men and women, a lot is on the line.

    The players

    The elite line-up reads like a who's who in North American mountain bike racing. Last year's Triple Crown opener winner, Max Plaxton, is returning alongside his new factory Specialized teammates of Lea Davidson and Todd Wells, who is fresh off winning three national titles in 2010.

    Plaxton had a break-out year in 2010, also winning the Mellow Johnny's US Pro XCT round in stunning fashion. He is new to the Specialized squad for 2011.

    "I'm really looking forward to getting the 2011 season underway at Bonelli Park this weekend," said Plaxton. "Last year's course was really fun and tactical, so I am excited to see what they have done with the course this year.

    "I am not at the same level I was last year this time, but I will give'r my best and try to put on a good showing for the Specialized Factory Racing Team along with teammate Todd Wells."

    Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain Maxxis team) will make the trip from the great white north. Kabush has high expectations for 2011. "My motivation this off-season has been good, and I have high expectations coming into 2011. I've incorporated a lot of new ideas in my training, and I'm really looking forward to the first test in Bonelli. I am looking forward to seeing everyone's face again and getting the race season underway."

    Kabush will be one of many strong...

  • European Masters Mountain Bike Championships return to Slovenia

    A rider descends in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 16:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    Kranjska Gora hosting for three of next four years

    The slopes of Mount Vitranc above Kranjska Gora in Slovenia will again host an international mountain bike event. The European Masters Mountain Bike Championships - in cross country and downhill - will be held there in 2011, 2012 and 2014. This year's dates are June 24-26.

    The Masters Championships were scheduled for Killarney, Ireland, but after they were cancelled, Slovenia stepped in. Kranjska Gora successfully hosted a similar event in 2009 - the European Downhill Championships for junior, elite and masters categories.

    The downhill course will remain more or less the same as it was in 2009; however, a new cross country loop will be used - it was built in 2010 for a national-level event. It goes through sections of the bike park and also includes new purpouse-built forested sections.

    Cross country races and downhill seeding will be run on Saturday while the downhill finals will happen on Sunday.

    Visit the race website for more information.

  • Mata returns to roots at Team Sho-Air

    Monique "Pua" Mata relaxes off the bike
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 17:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Endurance mountain biker joins Prado on the American squad

    Monique "Pua" Mata is returning to her roots with Team Sho-Air. The endurance mountain bike racer signed to race with her old team and in her new role, she will also lead club team rides, participate in training camps for riders ranging from the beginner to the expert level, and make appearances and speaking engagements.

    Reflecting on her return to Team Sho-Air, Mata said, "It's now come full circle. I had a tough year last year and coming back to Team Sho-Air is like pressing the reset button for me."

    Pua will concentrate her racing on the newly established US Pro Ultra Endurance Tour (US Pro UET). Her debut will come this weekend at the first Pro UET in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where she will race the Spa City Extreme 6-hour race with her Team Sho-Air teammate Manuel "Manny" Prado. Both are racing in the solo division.

    "Scott Tedro signed me to my first pro deal and he has consistently been there for me over the years, and it feels great to come home," said Mata. "I get to return to my true passion and concentrate on endurance based racing, and I know with the backing that I will get from my teammates at Team Sho-Air, I will be back on the podium and having a great time doing so."

    "I am also looking forward to racing on my new Specialized S-Works Epic 29er, I had never ridden a 29er bike before until now and after just one ride, I was hooked, I expect big things this year, but mostly I am happy to be with a team that supports me both on and off the bike, and I am excited to race for the first time in a long time."

    Team Sho-Air founder Tedro said, "Pua is a first class person and a very talented rider, and I am very pleased that she will be riding with us again this year. Over the past several years, we concentrated (the team) on pro cross country racing and we are now turning our focus to pro-based endurance racing. I believe with Pua Mata and Manny Prado, we have two of the best to represent us both on and off the...

  • Sea Otter Classic to rebuild downhill race course

    Melissa Buhl (KHS) races to victory in the downhill at Sea Otter.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2011, 20:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Truvativ and Momentum Trail Concepts partner on project

    The downhill race course at the Sea Otter Classic at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, will get a comprehensive makeover in time for the 2011 event in mid-April. The race has partnered with Truvativ and bike park builders Momentum Trail Concepts on the project.

    Momentum Trail Concepts is designing and implementing the course renovations while Truvativ provided a trail maintenance grant, helping to underwrite the course upgrades. The two-week course build is slated to begin on April 3.

    The proposed changes came about after a joint site visit by the three partners on the project. Located on the Laguna Seca Recreational Area in the Monterey County Parks system, the existing course was exhibiting signs of wear and tear causing impacts to the course's flow.

    Late last year, Truvativ's Benny Cruickshank, Morgan Meredith and Tyler Morland approached Sea Otter's operations team with a proposal designed to enhance the quality, sustainability and fun factor for the track. The project gained momentum with the additional involvement of Momentum Trails Concepts. Thoughtful design and meticulous building practices will be employed to address rider safety concerns.

    "Truvativ's parent company SRAM has never failed to creatively add to the event - for over a decade their partnership has made Sea Otter a better experience for attendees and competitors alike," said Sea Otter president and CEO Frank Yohannan, "Their contribution on the downhill course project and the high bar they've established for what success looks like maintains that tradition. Their efforts will make the 2011 course better for athletes in all categories."

    A few of the specific 21 planned changes have been announced at the time of this article. The start house will get six more feet of elevation added. This should add to the fun and flow of the initial section of track. An initial jump section will be worked on and the first berm will be reshaped and...

  • Mountain States Cup set for 2011

    Mike Broderick in Granby, Colorado
    Article published:
    March 11, 2011, 1:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Nine weekends of racing for Colorado and New Mexico

    The Mountain States Cup will kick off in just under a month. The 2011 calendar has been set with nine weekends of racing in a variety of disciplines including time trial, short track, cross country, downhill, dual slalom and four cross.

    "It is going to be a great season with the addition of two new venues and the return to Sol Vista at Granby Ranch," said the Mountain States Cup Race Director. "We are working with all of our ski area partners in trying to either build new courses or make changes to existing one to add a little variety to the racing in our series."

    The first race at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs on April 8-10 will offer an early season tune-up for racers. Rabbit Valley follows in Fruita, Colorado, on April 29-May 1, and it will be the exact same as 2010 in terms of courses, featuring plenty of singletrack. Salida will host a new event for the series with round three on May 20-22.

    The gravity part of the series will get going in Angel Fire, New Mexico on June 3-5, and the venue is also hosting a short track, cross country and super d. There, the downhill will possibly be run on a new course if it is done being constructed in time.

    At the Crested Butte round in Colorado on Jun 24-26, pro and category 1 cross country racers will get to do a 40-mile loop while the pro downhillers can participate in the Wildflower Rush race as part of the US Pro GRT.

    The round in Telluride, Colorado, on July 8-10 will use last year's courses and will double as the Colorado State Championships for all disciplines.

    Keystone's racing, to be held in Colorado on July 22-24, will likely get a dual slalom added to the calendar and a shorter downhill course so the finish time is closer to five minutes.

    The penultimate event, the Blast the Mass, will feature a new Mega Super D, with over 3,000 feet of drop from start to finish in Snowmass, Colorado.

    The series will wrap up at Sol Vista in...