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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, March 14, 2014

Date published:
March 14, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Finsterwald signs with SRAM-Troy Lee Designs Mountain Bike Team

    Russell Finsterwald (Trek) and Todd Wells (Specialized)
    Article published:
    March 08, 2014, 22:30 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    New team also backs Shaw brothers

    Cross country racer Russell Finsterwald has signed with a new team formed by SRAM and Troy Lee Designs, which is being called the SRAM-Troy Lee Designs Mountain Bike Team. Finsterwald will be joined by Shaw brothers, Luca and Walker, both downhillers.

    Finsterwald, from Colorado Spring, Colorado, was the 2012 Under 23 US cross country national champion and is a former under 23 Pan Am Champion. He will concentrate on a national and UCI World Cup cross country schedule and made his 2014 debut last weekend at the Mellow Johnny's Classic, where he finished 10th.  He previously raced for the Subaru Trek Factory team.

    Hendersonville, North Carolina-based Walker Shaw was the 2013 US junior downhill national champion. As a first-year pro, Walker will campaign a carefully selected schedule that will include national and World Cup downhill events and enduros. Younger brother Luca starts the 2014 UCI Junior World Cup Downhill series ranked third.

    SRAM, a Chicago-based bicycle component manufacturer, has a long tradition of supporting racing, from grass-roots contests to the World Cup level. It currently provides product sponsorship and technical assistance to 27 teams and 100 professional athletes around the globe. Now, the company will also fly its own colors in local, national and World Cup competition.

    "For years we'd been talking about starting our own in-house team but extra resources and athlete opportunities never seemed to coincide," said John Dawson, SRAM Mountain Bike Sports Marketing Manager.

    "Then it all just came together at Ft. William last season, hanging in the pit with longtime friend Craig Glaspell from Troy Lee Designs. We got all fired up on caffeine and started brainstorming the idea of creating a program that was free from outside influence. The foundation...

  • Lill and Keey chase African classification at Cape Epic

    Charles Keey and Darren Lill of Team Cannondale Blend retain the African Leader Jerseys and have fourth position after stage 2 of the 2013 Cape Epic
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 18:10 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    South Africans target a stage win

    Darren Lill and Charles Keey are the top contenders for the African jersey in this year's Cape Epic. In 2013, these two riders were matching the top riders in the world, pedal stroke for pedal stroke, at the front of the field.  This will be Lill's second Cape Epic and Keey's fifth. Together they will take on the challenging South African stage race from March 23 to March 30.

    Lill only started mountain biking in 2011 while Keey has been around a bit longer, having switched from what he called a "frustrating" road scene to mountain biking in 2009.

    "By 2010, I was fully converted to the dark side," said Keey. "The Cape Epic offers you the opportunity to ride on home soil against the best mountain bikers in the world, in the biggest event of its type in the world, how could I say no? I'm so lucky to have been given the opportunity to compete in the last four events and hoping there are many more to come. Although I've had good results in the past, I still don't think I've nailed the result I'm capable of achieving."

    Lill is confident that the African jersey is well within their reach. "We also have the potential to finish on the podium overall. This year, my goal is to retain some extra weight going into the Cape Epic. It will help me with more strength on the rough and flat terrain, as well as act as a buffer from getting sick as I did last year due to a stomach bug, coming into the event too light. It weakens your immune system."

    Keey said, "It's always very difficult to judge what kind of form all the Europeans will be coming to South Africa with. It's a much more open field this year with a couple of new partnerships forming and many 'dark horse' teams coming from Europe that have stellar resumes but no one knows their form.

    "The cross country World Cup, a couple of days after the Cape Epic, might deter some of the cross country stars from the overall and...

  • Enduro racing features in this year's Ride Sun Valley

    Todd Wells racing in Sun Valley
    Article published:
    March 10, 2014, 20:08 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Idaho festival also hosts US marathon nationals

    The 4th Annual Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival returns this June 26-July 5, 2014 with a robust calendar of events, races, rides and two-wheeled good times for all ages and persuasions of mountain biker. The area in Idaho features over 200 miles of singletrack.

    Highlighting this year's festival will be the Sun Valley Super Enduro on June 27-29, which is now the second stop on the Enduro Cup's three-race series operated by Mountain Sports International. The Sun Valley Super Enduro has also been listed as an official race on the North American Enduro Tour, a race series featuring the premier enduro races on the continent which names continent-wide enduro champions at the end of the season. With over 24 miles of riding, 9,000 vertical feet of descending and a 1,000 feet of untimed climbing, this is the longest enduro in the country.

    The Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival kicks off on June 26 with the Sheeptown Drag Races in Hailey, Idaho. The following night, action gets underway in downtown Ketchum for the Super Enduro Prologue and Town Race.

    Following the Super Enduro weekend comes the Idaho Pumptrack State Championships an all ages throwdown for time at the Ketchum Bike Park.

    The week wraps up on Saturday, July 5, for the US Marathon National Championships on Bald Mountain.

    For a complete run down on Ride Sun Valley visit www.ridesunvalley.com. For more information on the Enduro Cup visit www.endurocupmtb.com.

  • Plaxton and Nash aim to defend leads at Bonelli Park US Cup

    Michael Broderick and Mary McConneloug of Team KENDA / Stan’s NoTubes racing the Trans Andes Stage Race in Chile
    Article published:
    March 11, 2014, 17:35 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Free live video streaming schedule announced

    Many of the best mountain bike pros in the world will line up in the Frank G. Bonelli Park for round 2 of the 2014 USA Cycling US Cup Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group on Saturday, March 15 in San Dimas, California. Among them will be Olympians Max Plaxton (Cannondale Factory Racing) of Canada and Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) of the Czech Republic, both of whom will be racing to defend their leads in the US Cup series.

    "Bonelli Park is a great location for racing," said Sho-Air President Scott Tedro. "And the course changes we've implemented in the past weeks will ensure that only the best riders will be fighting it out at the front. The much-needed rain that came last week put the course in great shape as well, so we're ready and the course is ready. We can't wait to see this world-class field battle it out this weekend."

    Bonelli Park is hosting its first-ever hors categorie mountain bike race as round 2 of the USA Cycling US Cup, but it is no stranger to big-time mountain bike racing. The venue has hosted races since the mid 1980s, including no less than three UCI C1 category events in recent years.

    Series standings ahead of Bonelli Park

    Following a hotly-contested opening round of the USA Cycling US Cup Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group at the Mellow Johnny's Classic in Dripping Springs, Texas, two weeks ago, Plaxton and Nash lead the series standings.

    Plaxton tops the men's standings with 30 points ahead of Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) with 27 points, Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) with 25 points, Jeremiah Bishop...

  • Henderson targets Cairns mountain bike World Cup

    Bec Henderson leads the elite women's race
    Article published:
    March 12, 2014, 1:40 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    U23 World Cup champion ready to make her debut in elite ranks

    As Australia counts down to host the second round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series this April, last year's under 23 cross country World Cup series winner Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) is preparing for a challenging debut in the international elite ranks.

    Henderson, who in 2013 claimed two World Cup victories before taking out the overall series has had a smooth transition so far with the 22-year-old claiming the Australian cross country national title over the weekend, adding to her victory in Australia's national series.

    "Last year there were a few things I wanted to tick off the list before I left the under 23 category," said Henderson.

    "Obviously my first year in the elite ranks is going to be really tough, and it will be interesting to see where I fit in, [but] I've been racing in elite in just about everything except for the World Cups for the last few years anyway. But the World Cups are the toughest races and the races that have the most depth."

    Adding to the challenges of the elite field is the difficult Cairns course, which Henderson tested in late February.

    "The course is going to be one of the toughest of the year, it's technically challenging, but it's also going to be really physically demanding. There is so much climbing and other factors like the humidity and heat will be something we'll all have to battle."

    Henderson's busy early season schedule continues in March with the Oceania Championships in New Zealand this weekend before traveling to America to meet up with her Trek Factory teammates ahead of the World Cup opener in South Africa on April 10.

    "I'll be flying straight from South Africa to Cairns," said...

  • Two top contenders Naef and Williamson out of Cape Epic due to injuries

    Jose Hermida and Ralph Naef of team Multivan Merida Biking 3 celebrate the win during stage 6 of the 2011 Cape Epic. Naef has now dropped out of the 2014 edition of the race.
    Article published:
    March 12, 2014, 18:23 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Flückiger and Essa find new partners

    Ralf Naef, one of the contenders for the men's overall title at the Cape Epic, has had to withdraw due to an injury picked up in a fall while training. And England's Catherine Williamson, a favourite for a win in the mixed category, is also out of the Epic after breaking her leg in a skiing accident. The eight-day, 718km mountain bike stage race race starts with a prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate, Durbanville, South Africa on March 23.

    Switzerland's Naef, previously a top-10 Cape Epic finisher and one of the world's top riders, was scheduled to partner with countryman Lukas Flückiger in Team BMC. They were widely expected to be among the front-runners at this year's race.

    BMC said in a statement that Naef "sustained an injury to his quadriceps a few weeks ago during training, and it has turned out to be more severe than anticipated."

    Flückiger will now partner with rising star Martin Fanger, who is also Swiss. The team's director sportif Alex Moos said, "It is Martin's first Cape Epic and a fabulous opportunity for him to experience multi-stage racing with the top riders in the world. Lukas has amassed lots of experience over the years and they are both really motivated and prepared to race. We remain optimistic!"

    Fanger, 25, has showed considerable potential in recent years and his results last year included a sixth place in the UCI World Cup Cross Country race at Albstadt, Germany, in May.

    Williamson - winner of the women's category with Yolande Speedy last year - was to ride with South African Nizaam Essa (Team Asrin). Williamson broke her leg in a fall while skiing last week but,...

  • Ireland prepares to host European marathon mountain bike championships

    A racer in Ireland
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 16:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Top marathoners will compete in Ballyhoura

    The European Marathon Mountain Bike Championships will roll into Ballyhoura in the southwest of Ireland on the weekend of the June 14-15 for two days of racing on some of the most picturesque trails in the country.

    The main event on Sunday will see the elite men tackle a course of 93km with 2,199 metres of climbing while the elite women's field will take on a course of 75km and 1,925 metres of climbing. Riders will set off in a mass start with the first to cross the finish line being crowned the European Champion.

    2014 will be the first time Ireland has hosted a UCI Championship event, and amateur racers will be able to get a taste on the Saturday before some of the top professionals in the world compete for the European marathon champions' jerseys on the Sunday. Saturday's support races are categorized into expert, masters, vet and classic vet and will feature a course of 75km and 1,925 metres of climbing. There is also a junior and fun race on 25km of trails.

    Inspired by the location and unique heritage of Ireland, the course is clover leaf in shape and all senior categories will ride through the start/finish area three times during their respective races making it perfect for spectators. The course is a mix of wide forest roads, trail centre singletrack and natural technical features.

    Seefin Mountain at 528 metres is the highest point on the course, towering over the mountain bike trail centre below. The first man and first woman to the summit in the elite races will claim a share of a €528 cash prize fund adding an extra incentive. While it is not as high as an Alp, it is certainly as steep!

    The Rocky Mayhem Music Festival takes place the same weekend as the event in nearby Kilfinane village. No stranger to MTB events, Kilfinane has hosted the Singlespeed World Championships in 2011 and the International Bluegrass Enduro Tour in 2013 as well as numerous domestic races in cross country, enduro and marathon...

  • Cherise Stander returns to Cape Epic

    Cherise Stander and Duane Stander finish the 2013 Cape Epic together
    Article published:
    March 14, 2014, 3:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team Re:CM ready for another big test

    Cherise Stander and Theo Blignaut will be taking part in the Cape Epic as team RE:CM from March 23 to 30. 2014 will mark Blignaut and Stander's first Cape Epic together.

    "This will be my first Cape Epic," said Blignaut. "Cherise Stander, who participated in last year's event, asked me to join her. I'm honoured to be her partner."

    Stander, 24, is returning on a quest for glory."Putting your body through the ultimate challenge and seeing how far you can push yourself has brought me back to the Cape Epic this year." Stander is the widow of elite mountain bike racer Burry Stander, who was killed during training in January of 2013.

    Cherise Stander has placed her future goals on competing in the South African Mountain Bike Championship and the MTN series. With achievements such as being the South African Marathon Mountain Biking Champ (2012), winner of the 2010 Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, winner of the ladies category in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour (2008, 2011 and 2014) and South African Road Champ (2008 and 2010), Stander and her partner are a team to look out for in the mixed category in this year's race.

    Blignaut, 25, is a highly respected triathlete who does not back down to a challenge. He won the 2012 ITU South African Cross Triathlon Championship in Bloemfontein and placed second at the 2011 ITU Africa U23 Triathlon Championship in Mapoto, making him a serious podium contender.

    Both Blignaut and Stander are very determined to win the mixed category this year. "We're definately going for the win, but will be happy with a top three finish," said Blignaut.

    According to Stander, you can expect everything and anything at this year's race. "Training is so important. You have to be fit and in the best condition of your life," she said.

    According to Stander, she and her partner are really busy, so they do not get to train together as often as they like, but when the opportunity presents itself they...