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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, March 15, 2013

Date published:
March 15, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Kerschbaumer and Gehbauer lead Team TX-Active Bianchi

    Gerhard Kerschbaumer and Alexander Gahbauer (TX-Active Bianchi)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 20:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Squad supports young riders with long term focus on 2016 Rio Olympics

    The TX Active-Bianchi Mountain Bike team presented its 11 racers for the 2013 season in Bergamo, Italy, late last month. Young talents Gerhard Kerschbaumer and Alexander Gehbauer lead the elite and U23 squad, which is focusing long term on success at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

    After his 2011 victories at the Italian and European U23 championships and the overall World Cup and Internazionali d'Italia series wins, the 21-year-old Kerschbaumer confirmed his potential in 2012 by winning the Italian U23 championships. He also won the Val d'Isere round of the World Cup and finished 13th at the London Olympic Games.

    On the Hadleigh Farm Olympic course, just one U23 rider did better than Kerschbaumer: his new teammate Alexander Gehbauer. The Austrian rider moves into the elite ranks this year. In 2012, he earned two wins and a fourth place overall in the cross country World Cup, and he won the Austrian national championship.

    Another newcomer on the team is Martin Gujan of Switzerland. Gujan made the move from the Cannondale Factory Racing team and will serve as a mentor to Kerschbaumer and Gehbauer.

    The other elite/U23 racers on the 2013 team include all around rider Tony Longo, winner of four races in 2012; Leonard Paez; and Dennis Wahlqvist. Massimo Ghirotto will manage the team.

    President Felice Gimondi explained his team's goals for the season. "We broke into the top 15 in the UCI ranking, and we are competitive against teams with huge budget compared to ours. We strengthened the team with the addition of Gujan and Gehbauer. The latter will work for the main goal of 2016 Olympics, as well as Kerschbaumer. We are aiming at bringing an athlete on the podium in Rio."

    "Gujan is a strong and well-experienced rider who can support them smoothly. For this reason, Kerschbaumer will race the World Cup rounds in the elite series, to get some more experience. Further on, we have a complete rider like Longo both for cross...

  • Näf and Flückiger withdraw from Cape Epic

    BMC MTB Racing Team in Cap Esterel, France
    Article published:
    March 13, 2013, 16:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    Broken collarbone for eliminator world champion

    The BMC Mountain Bike team was looking forward to going for the win at the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race starting on Sunday, March 17, but plans changed after Ralph Näf broke his collarbone. Näf was scheduled to compete in South Africa with teammate Lukas Flückiger.

    Näf, who is the first-ever eliminator world champion, crashed during training and injured himself. He has already undergone surgery on his collarbone in Austria.

    "Unfortunately, Ralph's crash this week forced us to postpone the start of the international racing season," said BMC Mountain Bike Team Sports Director Alexandre Moos. "Cape Epic is increasingly important as first big race on the calendar. With Ralph and Lukas Flückiger, we prepared to go for the win in South Africa. Ralph was reaching his top shape after and excellent winter, so we expect him to be back soon."

    "After his crash, we considered all other options well, but decided that it did not make sense to send another team rider with Lukas to South Africa. We did not want to jeopardise the rest of the season as Cape Epic is an extremely demanding race."

    "We will focus on the rest of the season and continue to work towards our first big objectives, the first BMC Racing Cup (Swiss Cup) and the first World Cup races. Ralph was reaching his top shape after and excellent winter, so we expect him to be back soon."

    Another BMC racer Julien Absalon got his season underway last weekend with some regional racing.

    "I am really happy with how things are going. I had a perfect winter and I am very pleased with the new equipment," said Absalon. "Finally making the step from 26-inch wheels to the BMC 29er gave me an...

  • Gallery: BH-SR Suntour-KMC kicks off season with team camp

    The BH-SR Suntour-KMC Team
    Article published:
    March 14, 2013, 14:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Bresset, Marotte and Tempier lead French team

    The BH-SR Suntour-KMC mountain bike team kicked off its season with a team camp on the French Riveria earlier this month. Cross country and Olympic world champion Julie Bresset was in attendance along with her teammates including Maxime Marotte and Stephane Tempier.

    The team worked on pre-season training goals and set up and tested its new equipment, including riding mountain bikes with 26", 29" and 650B wheels as each rider tried to find the best bike for his or her style of riding and racing.

    Some of the team's riders began racing regional races last weekend while others will get started this weekend. The first UCI MTB World Cup is not until mid-April in Albstadt, Germany.

    Check out the photo gallery.

  • Gallery: Cape Epic favorites warm up legs at charity race

    Christoph Sauser (Specialized) wins the charity race
    Article published:
    March 14, 2013, 18:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sauser wins in Kayamandi township

    Christoph Sauser (Specialized Racing) won the charity mountain bike race in the Kayamandi township on Wednesday.

    Sauser was among current and former World Cup regulars who lined up for the start of the contest, which benfitted the charity backed by Sauser. aims to improve the lives of children living in South African townships by providing them a safe place to play, grow and develop. The organisation began with Songo Fipaza's dream to help his community of Kayamandi.

    Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy and Kohei Yamamoto (both Specialized Racing) rounded out the top three while Florian Vogel (Scott Swisspower) took fourth ahead of Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing) in fifth. The top three riders, all from Specialized Racing, worked together to control the race.

    "We had perfect team work in the race - we ended up top three," said Kulhavy. "I felt really good and the race was a good warm-up before the Cape Epic. It was a great atmosphere and it a good experience for everyone who was there."

    The racers head next to the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, which begins on Sunday, March 17. Sauser is hoping to defend his victory. He will partner with Kulhavy and ride in memory of their mutual teammate Burry Stander, who was killed in a training accident in January.

    Check out the gallery from the charity race.

  • Life is different for Fontana after Olympic bronze medal

    Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 14, 2013, 23:10 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Cannondale Factory Racing rider ready for Cape Epic

    Winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games was a dream come true for Italian Marco Fontana of the Cannondale Factory Racing team. While the race didn't go exactly as planned due to a late mechanical, years of hard work still paid off in the chance to stand on the podium after the cross country mountain bike race in Hadleigh Park.

    "It definitely changed my life. It's not so much that I'm more famous," said Fontana. "People recognize me on the street... sometimes.. but it's not like I'm a soccer player. The thing that has affected me more is the fact that I am now somebody who is part of the mountain bike scene in a way that what I do and what I say is connected to people and what they do and what they say."

    "I am like somebody who is watched by everybody. It changes the way I ride and the way I act. It's not like I just race and ride my bike any more, but still I enjoy that. I will always love to ride my bikes. Now, I like the fact that what I do may push people to do the same. I have more power to talk to people now about what I really like."

    Success has had another side effect for Fontana; he noted that he's been much busier since winning his Olympic medal. More people want his time for interviews and sponsorship obligations, but he still has to fit in all the same training. "In a week, you have seven days and if you spend two of them going to Rome for interviews, then you just have five left to train and compete at the highest level. It's not easy; balance now is even more important than before."

    Overall, 2012 was a positive year for Fontana. "The whole season was good and very consistent," he said. "I had a few races where I felt like I was close to winning, like the Nove...

  • Australian Mountain Bike National Series concludes this weekend

    Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) taking the Mellow Johnny’s victory
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 3:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Henderson, McConnell hunt leads of Mullens and Jongewaard

    The Alpine Shire region is set to host an enthralling finale to the Subaru Australian Mountain Bike National Series this weekend when the nation's best head to the picturesque town of Bright, Victoria.

    2013 National cross country champions Chris Jongewaard and Peta Mullens hold commanding leads in the All Mountain Cup series after the pair claimed round wins in Mount Buller and Thredbo. Jongewaard will be looking to consolidate his season of dominance against cross country challengers Daniel McConnell, Sid Taberlay and Mark Tupalski.

    Mullens on the other hand, will be a notable absence as she takes her stellar form to South Africa for the annual Absa Cape Epic, paving the way for round two winner Rebecca Henderson and second placed in the series Tory Thomas.

    Both McConnell and Henderson will be fresh from claiming victories in the opening round of the American US Pro XCT series in Texas earlier this month.

    "I've got good feelings coming into this weekend," Henderson noted. "I was so surprised to win the Pro XCT, but it's great motivation leading into the first World Cup. I'm feeling a little tired after the travel, but I'm hoping that won’t affect my legs too much."

    A notable inclusion into the men’s All Mountain Cup this weekend is former pro tour rider and 2008 Tour de France contender Trent Lowe, who is set to return to competition following a lengthy period away from the sport.

    In the Gravity Cup, Sam Hill and Caroline Buchanan have shown their class - their series win count currently two from two in the downhill format.

    Hill holds a commanding lead in the men’s series from 19-year-old Connor Fearon and Chris Kovarik – the pair have just 15 points between them on the...

  • Fleeman launches mountain bike team

    Dan Fleeman works hard for the Raleigh boys in his second year with the team.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 11:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Cervelo rider starts Forme Coaching-Pactimo-Cannondale team

    After a year of racing as an independent mountain biker in the UK former Cervelo TestTeam pro Daniel Fleeman has started his own off-road team.

    The UK based rider spent 2012 building up his coaching business, Forme Coaching, after retiring from the professional road scene after a final stint at Raleigh.

    However after dipping his toes in the UK mountain bike circuit last year he has ventured into team management with the Forme Coaching – Pactimo – Cannondale team.

    ‘I was approached by a couple of MTB teams but was planning to ride as a one man team with Forme Coaching on my jersey – then a few guys started to approach me about joining the squad.

    “Then it was two riders, then four, then nine . . .”

    “I was always going to ride with Forme Coaching on my jersey but we also have Pactimo, who supply our clothing who fast became our second sponsor with Cannondale supplying the bikes.”

    The team has signed a number of talented riders including Jason Bouttell, Matt Dennis and Steve James.

    ‘Jason won every round of the Expert National Points Series, last year. The National Points Series is your MTB equivalent of the Premier Calendar on the road. Jason is Elite category for 2013 and we’re expecting great things from him.

    “Then there’s Matt Dennis, he was overall winner of his age group in the NPS in 2011; and he was Masters National Champion that year, too.”

    “Steve James is a past top 10 finisher in National Elite Championships and is current Eastern Champion – we have five male Elite riders in total.”

    “Sarah Reynolds is joining us, too – second in the British Ladies’ Road Race Championship in the past, her accomplished skills as a road cyclist will transfer onto the MTB scene.”


  • Buys finds perfect Cape Epic partner Beukes

    Philip Buys of Team Scott, pictured here at The Cycle Fest in Pietermaritzburg, has found an ideal ABSA Cape Epic teammate in Matthys Beukes.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 15:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pair targets win in African classification

    The South African challenge for 2013 Cape Epic success received a significant boost when Philip Buys confirmed that he had secured compatriot and friend, Matthys Beukes, to race with him on Team Scott.

    In a show of selflessness, Beukes' team, Contego, agreed to release their star marathon racer to partner with Buys for the eight-day race stage race, which is considered mountain biking's equivalent of the Tour de France.

    Buys is thrilled at the prospect of teaming up with Beukes. "My plan, since I joined Scott, was to always do this year's Cape Epic. But I was prepared to skip it if I couldn't find the ideal teammate. It's a tough eight-day race against the world's best riders. You don't just pick anyone to partner with," said Buys.

    "Matthys and I raced as teammates at the Sani2c three-day race a few years ago and it was apparent then that we have similar riding styles and strengths. I believe we'll be very well-matched and I look forward to racing at the highest level with him," said Buys.

    Buys has completed three Cape Epics, while this will be Beukes' first appearance at the demanding race.

    "None of my previous Cape Epics were super serious. I raced in a back-up team always, so the pressure was low. My best finish was 14th overall. I was also quite young. I've matured physically and mentally since then. I'm ready to give it my best shot," said Buys.

    Although he's developed into a cross country specialist over the past 18 months, Buys is a strong all-arounder and has shown his ability to contest marathon and stage race podiums. Beukes on the other hand is more a marathon specialist, but a very capable cross country racer too. Their cross country racing prowess sees a high level of skill in Team Scott, which will be most beneficial on the technical sections of the race.

    "Firstly, I need to thank Contego for releasing me to take up this rare...