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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, March 7, 2014

Date published:
March 07, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: I.Idro Drain-Bianchi Mountain Bike Team presented for 2014

    The I.Idro Drain-Bianchi Mountain Bike Team
    Article published:
    March 03, 2014, 10:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Kerschbaumer heads up Italian team with high ambitions

    Under 23 world champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer heads up the 2014 I.Idro Drain-Bianchi Mountain Bike Team, which was recently presented at the Sala Viterbi in the Province of Bergamo, Italy. The Italian off-road squad was formerly known as TX Active-Bianchi.

    One of seven riders on the team, Kerschbaumer will spend his first year in the elite ranks in 2014. In 2013, he won the Italian team relay at the Worlds and at the European Championships and he won the under 23 world championships plus his third Italian national U23 title. The young Italian rider has already had some experience racing among the elites last year in the World Cup. His best elite finish was a fifth place in Vallnord, Andorra.

    Another cross country star on the team is Alexander Gehbauer. In 2013, Gehbauer took four victories, including his second consecutive triumph at Austrian national championships.

    Leonardo Paez and Tony Longo compete in grand fondo and marathons. Last year, the Colombian Paez took 12 wins in Italy, Perù and Mexico, embellishing his showcase with a bronze medal at the marathon Worlds in Kirchberg, Austria. Longo scored seven successes on his own. In 2014, he will wear the Italian marathon champion's "tricolore" jersey conquered in Milo last September.

    The i.idro Drain-Bianchi junior team is made up of Chiara Teocchi, Giorgio Rossi and Katia Moro. The team will race Bianchi Methanol 27.1 SL and Methanol 29 FS bikes.

    Team President Felice Gimondi explained his team's goals for the new season.

    "It will be hard to repeat 2013 results. Kerschbaumer moved into Elite series where it’s not easy to be competitive early. However, we rely on him and Gehbauer to make the top-five in some of the most important competitions: European champs, Worlds and World Cup."

    "Paez and Longo’s presence, two among the best marathon riders, confirms our team's good level. We hope Paez will give an encore at the Worlds and Longo to...

  • Ettinger and McConneloug to lead US team at Continental Mountain Bike Championships

    Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountainbike Team) did most of the chasing to bring back Finsterwald
    Article published:
    March 04, 2014, 20:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sixteen riders selected for team heading to Brazil

    USA Cycling announced on Monday the 16 riders that will represent the United States at the 2014 Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Barbacena, Brazil on March 27-30.

    "I'm looking forward to a strong performance in Brazil from this team," USA Cycling Mountain Bike Program Director Marc Gullickson said. "We have a great mix of new, young talent as well as some established veterans."

    Three riders will represent the United States in the elite men's cross country category. Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team), the top-ranked American in the UCI rankings, is the lone automatic nomination to the team. He will be joined by two discretionary nominations: Spencer Paxson (Kona Factory Team) and Michael Broderick (Team Kenda - Stan's NoTubes).

    Broderick's wife and 2004 and 2008 Olympian, Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda - Stan's NoTubes), is the second-ranked American woman in the UCI's standings as of March 1, and has earned an automatic nomination to the elite women's cross country team. Joining McConneloug will be a discretionary nomination, Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's -

    Representing the United States in the U23 men's category as discretionary nominations are Sepp Kuss (RMCF-Devo) and Payson McElveen (USA U23). Kuss placed third at the 2013 US Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships.

    The U23 women's team will be powered by a pair of reigning national champions. Defending U23 national champion Shayna Powless will team with defending junior national champion Kate Courtney (Team Specialized Racing) to form a formidable duo. Both were discretionary nominations to the team.

    Neilson Powless (Whole Athlete - Specialized Cycling Team), the top-ranked American junior in the UCI rankings, is an automatic nomination to the juniors men's squad. Powless will pair with Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete - Specialized Cycling Team), bronze medalist in the 2013 junior cross country national championships, to...

  • McConnell and Henderson among favorites for Australian nationals

    London Olympian and U23 World Cup series champion Rebecca Henderson racing in Bright
    Article published:
    March 05, 2014, 5:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cross country and downhill titles on the line in Victoria this weekend

    The Australian Mountain Bike National Championships will take place in Bright, Victoria this week from March 6 to March 10. Australia's best riders from all disciplines will descend on the Alpine Shire for five days of international standard racing.

    Riders will be competing to take home the national champion's titles for 2014, as well as to score valuable international ranking points. Australian athletes have an extra incentive to record points as this year sees Australia hosting a round of the World Cup series in Cairns in April.

    Cross country

    Olympians Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson will headline the gruelling cross country disciplines, with both riders undefeated in the discipline in the final two rounds of the recent Australian National Mountain Bike Series.

    In 2013, the formidable McConnell won the first World Cup race of his career in Albstadt, Germany and went on to record an incredible second place in the World Cup Series for the year.

    Henderson had her final year in the under 23 Category in 2013, winning two World Cup races on her way to claiming the World Cup Series title. Both riders will lead stellar fields in Bright.


    Australia's gravity superstars will also be in action on the Alpine trails.

    Mick Hannah is the reigning national champion, and the third-ranked downhill rider in the world. He will be joined by sister, teammate and fellow reigning national champion Tracey Hannah.

    Former dual junior world champion Troy Brosnan will also be racing, aiming for to complete the gold double coming off the back of winning the recent Australian Mountain Bike Series.

    Eliminator and other events

    National championships action will also take place in fast and furious cross country eliminator and the highly skilled...

  • Stewart's appeal of positive doping test denied

    Race leader, Brandon Stewart of FedGroup Itec, reaches the top of a climb in the Kammanassie Mountains during Stage 4
    Article published:
    March 05, 2014, 17:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    No Cape Epic for elite South African mountain biker

    South African mountain biker Brandon Stewart will not compete in this year's Cape Epic mountain bike stage race after his appeal against a positive doping test was denied on Monday.

    Stewart, who was South African cross country national champion in 2008, tested positive for testosterone in an out of competition test in July of 2013. He had taken two injections of a testosterone booster, administered by his doctor between February and April of 2013.

    The treatment was given for depression and mood swings. Stewart had contacted South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) to request a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) so he could race while receiving treatment. He has reported that SAIDS told him that he could compete while his application was processed, but in April he was notified that his TUE application was denied because his testosterone levels were not enough below normal to justify the treatment. It was suggested that he have further tests from an endocrinologist approved by SAIDS and that he could continue racing in the meantime.

    Stewart halted treatment and was then informed that his second application, based on the endocrinologist's reports, had also been denied.

    The positive out of competition test occurred two days before being told that his second TUE appeal was unsuccessful and three months after having stopped treatment.  He was formally notified by SAIDS of the test in October.

    He has since appealed the positive test result, noting that he had kept SAIDS informed of his treatment and then stopped it after his first TUE application was turned down.

    Khalid Galant, SAIDS CEO said in an official statement, "The cyclist claimed that he had a legitimate medical condition that warranted the use of testosterone. He had previously applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the use of testosterone. The SAIDS TUE Commission denied...

  • Previous Cape Epic winners Bigham and Süss team up again

    Ester Suss and Sally Bingham of Wheels4life celebrate their overall ladies win during the final stage (stage 7) of the 2012 Cape Epic
    Article published:
    March 05, 2014, 20:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Experienced British-Swiss duo will partner for this year's race

    Previous Cape Epic winners Sally Bigham of the United Kingdom and Esther Süss of Switzerland will come together to team up as team Meerendal 3 for this year's race on March 23 to March 30.

    Both Süss and Bigham have many accolades to their names. Süss, 39, is a two-time Cape Epic winner, once in the mixed category and once in the women's category. She started riding in 1998 and was crowned marathon world champion in 2010. Süss also won a silver medal (2009) and three bronze medals (2011, 2012, 2013) at the marathon Worlds. In 2013, she won a bronze medal at the cross country Worlds and became Swiss Cyclist of the Year for the second time (first in 2010). At 38, she placed fifth in the London Olympics, racing against women 10 years younger and more.

    Bigham, 35, holds two Cape Epic wins, both in the women's category. She has won the British marathon national championship four times, and the TransAlp twice (2012, 2013). She finished in second place in the marathon Worlds in 2012 and 2013 and placed first overall in the 2011 UCI World Marathon Rankings. She won the Andalucia Bike Race in both 2011 and 2012. She has won eight Cape Epic stages in her career.

    Bigham holds a PhD degree and started mountain biking in 2006. "I started for fun and then it took over. I really like the Cape Epic. It's an iconic race and a real adventure. It's all about suffering and fortunately I like to suffer. I've been preparing well and Esther is the perfect partner for me. We'll give it 100% and see what we can do."

    Süss said, "Of course it's nice to win a stage, but it's better to win the overall!"

    With regards to their training together, Bigham said, "We raced the Cape Epic together and won in 2012, and we've raced against each other plenty of times in solo races, so we don't need to train together so much. We'll ride together the week before the start of the...

  • Wloszczowska will line up among the favorites in Voroklini

    Blaza Klemencic won the 2013 Voroklini round of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup
    Article published:
    March 06, 2014, 19:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cink and Skarnitzl are the men to beat at Cyprus Sunshine Cup final

    Cyprus Sunshine Cup's final 2014 race on Sunday is drawing a top notch field. Former world champion Maja Wloszczowska (Giant Pro XC) is throwing her hat into the ring at the Voroklini cross country. She'll join Jan Skarnitzl (SRAM Rubena Trek) and Jolanda Neff (Giant Pro XC), who are favorites after round 1 of the Sunshine Cup at the Afxentia stage race last weekend.

    Wloszczowska has been on the island of Cyprus for awhile, but she decided to sit out the Afxentia race last weekend while she allowed some inflammation in her left wrist to go down.

    "I wouldn't have been able to compete four days in a row," she said. "It's getting better now, and I think for one day, it will be okay." Asked about her fitness, she said, "Hmm, of course, an inflammation concerns the whole body. I have to see, what's possible on Sunday."

    Wloszczowska's teammate Neff would like to have her in the race. "It'd be great to have her with me. Myself, I would like to have a good race again. The last day at Afxentia I felt already a bit tired, but for Sunday, I should be fresh again. I do not know the Voroklini course yet, I am curious about it." Neff won the overall at Afxentia.

    After Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing) left Cyprus to finish preparation for the Cape Epic, Adelheid Morath (Sabine Spitz-Haibike) is most serious contender for the overall. The German was third at Afxentia and for three days, she showed up racing at a high level, especially when climbing.

    Morath's Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike) was content with her performance last weekend, and she should be able to fight for a podium this weekend. The same goes for Blaza Klemencic (Feenstra-Felt), Elisabeth Osl (Ghost Factory Racing) and Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida).

  • Untouchable Schurter seeks fourth Pietermaritzburg win

    Following winning the 2013 UCI MTB World Championship title for Switzerland, Nino Schurter will be back in his Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team colours when he returns to the Cascades MTB Park hoping to claim a fourth title at the Venue when the UCI MTB World Cup stops in Pietermaritzburg in mid April
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 5:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider looking forward to racing his favorite World Cup course

    A blemish-free record awaits current cross country mountain bike world champion Nino Schurter (Scott Odlo) when he returns to one of his favourite hunting grounds globally, the Cascades MTB Park, where he hopes to claim his fourth win at the venue in all competitions at the South African leg of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup April 11-13.

    With such a dominant record at the Pietermaritzburg venue, Schurter rates it highly amongst the World Cup locations around the world and maintains that the course suits his style of riding the best out of all of the tracks worldwide.

    "Pietermaritzburg is my favourite course on the World Cup circuit and I have won every time I have raced there which is encouraging for me going into the first event of the new season," the three-time world champion said. "The layout of the course is good for me with a number of technical sections which I can take advantage of and there are also some short, intense climbs that I really enjoy!"

    Having spent much of the recent months preparing in South Africa's Western Cape, Schurter is hoping to emulate his previous three victories at the venue and, after finishing the previous season as the best cross country rider in the world, it could be much of the same as Schurter returns to Cascades - the first stop on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup circuit for 2014.

    Taking part in an event in April in South Africa will mean that the weather could be uncomfortable and acclimatising to the warmer conditions will be important for the northern hemisphere-based riders as many of them would still be coming out of the significantly cooler winter period.

    "I really love racing in South Africa, I spend time there preparing in the off-season and I am hoping to go out there and repeat what I have done for the past few years.


  • Gallery: Giger and Wloszczowska head up Giant's elite mountain bike teams

    Together, Maja Wloszczowska and Jolanda Neff bring veteran XC power and rising young talent to the Liv Pro XC Women's Team.
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 16:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pro XC and Liv/Giant mountain bike squads presented for 2014

    Giant presented both it's men's and women's elite mountain bike teams for 2014, including its Pro XC men's squad and its Liv/Giant women's roster.


    Back to lead the Giant Pro XC team this year is Swiss rider Fabian Giger. The 26-year-old started the season on a high note earlier this month, when he won the Cyprus Sunshine Cup season opener, a four-day stage race.

    Giger, who finished the 2013 season ranked number eight in the world, showed great early season form in Cyprus at the Afxentia stage race, his first race of the year. Facing a deep field of cross country pros from around the world, he won the pivotal stage 2 and then defended his lead over the next two days.

    "It's great to have such a good start to the season," Giger said. "I'm excited about the team this year. The team is getting in some great early-season training down here in the warm climate."

    Giger was joined in Cyprus by his two teammates: Michiel van der Heijden of the Netherlands and Emil Lindgren of Sweden.

    Van der Heijden, just 22 years old, has steadily risen through the ranks during his time with Giant. He went from being the junior cross country world champion in 2010 to the under 23 cross country World Cup champion in 2012. And he begins this season wearing the Dutch national champion's jersey after winning the elite men's cross country championship in 2013. Like Giger, Van der Heijden had a strong showing at his season-opening race in Cyprus, riding consistently in the top-10 of the elite men's field and finishing 10th overall.

    The third member of the...