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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, May 9, 2014

Date published:
May 09, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Albstadt prepares for return of UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Alexandra Engen winning the eliminator at the Albstadt World Cup
    Article published:
    May 01, 2014, 18:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Absalon, Fumic and Spitz among the crowd favorites attending

    Albstadt, Germany is well underway in its preparations to host the fourth round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at the end of May, including a cross country race and an eliminator race.

    Albstadt first hosted a World Cup in 2013. The cross country course will mostly stay the same, but per the instructions of the UCI, the course will undergo some small changes in the interest of improved rider safety. The "Merida Devil's Corner" had to be rebuilt completely, after a damage due to a fallen tree. And an additional easier, but longer B line has been introduced. Also at some points, there will be improvements for the spectators - making it easier to get from one hot spot to the next.

    The eliminator will move from the city of Tailfingen to the main events venue in the Bullentäle (Bulls Valley). The lap will be more like a real mountain bike course.

    "That makes it a bit easier for everybody and gives the eliminator the real mountain bike feeling," said Stephan Salscheider, head of Albstadt's organizing committee.

    The entire weekend will kick off on Friday morning, May 30 with the eliminator qualifying before the finals happen late that afternoon.

    Amateurs will get to be involved in a non-World Cup marathon race for the Gonso Albstadt MTB Classic on Saturday, May 31, and the elite cross country riders will compete on Sunday, June 1.

    Julien Absalon won both of the two World Cup rounds held so far in South Africa and Australia.

    After winning World Cup #27 in Pietermaritzburg, Absalon said, "It was great to get the win here after my bad experience at the Worlds in...

  • Platt favored for success at Clarens marathon

    Four-time Cape Epic winner, Karl Platt of Team Bulls leads the front pack early on during the Attakwas Extreme mountain bike marathon on Saturday. Platt finished third overall.
    Article published:
    May 02, 2014, 15:08 BST
    Cycling News

    New course for next UCI marathon world series round

    Clarens will host the next round of both the UCI Marathon Series and the South African marathon series on May 3-4.

    The world class route and UCI points are attracting top names like multiple-time Cape Epic winner Karl Platt (Team Bulls). He'll be looking to make a point after he had to withdraw from the 2014 Cape Epic in March with a knee injury. Another rider to watch will be South African Nico Bell (Team RECM).

    This year will be the fourth time Clarens plays host to the national series and its second year as part of the UCI World Marathon Series.

    According to Wessel van der Walt from Advendurance, the route is probably the most visually appealing and varied yet challenging courses they've ever put together showcasing what South African mountain biking has to offer on the world stage.

    "Don't let the profiles fool you! - it's real mountian biking out there!" he said.

    After much time spent scouting, organizers have laid out a new route. Most of the course will be new to the racers as it traverses private land with hand built trails especially for the race. The region is home to various types of wildlife and will cross the Maluti Mountains on the edge of the Lesthoto border, which is the highest mountain range in South Africa.

    Elite racers will cover 120km.

  • Floros dials in marathon mountain bike world championship course

    The UCI MTB Marathon World Championships route will comprise of two loops, one of 74km and the other of 21km with the total distance being 90km, which the men will ride, whilst the women will only ride one loop of 74km when the event gets underway at the Cascades MTB Park from 27-29 June.
    Article published:
    May 03, 2014, 21:00 BST
    Cycling News

    New route crosses public and private lands

    Having established himself as a world-class course designer, Nick Floros will return to something that is very familiar to him when he patches together a route that will take the world's best mountain bike marathon riders through some of the more scenic terrain of Kwazulu-Natal when the UCI Marathon World Championships takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on June 27-29.

    "The preparations have been going okay so far," said Floros, who has designed World Cup and world championship cross country courses in Pietermaritzburg. "With a month or two to go until the event, we are really going to get ourselves involved now and hopefully make a big ding in the preparation of the course in the next few weeks."

    Putting together a marathon course is very different to that of a cross country course and offers up different challenges. For Floros though, it gives him the chance to show the riders the natural landscape of the region and showcase certain landmarks to the riders and the rest of the world.

    "With cross country, I am given a blank canvas and have to create a course that doesn't take in natural landmarks and that sort of thing. However, with marathon I can now incorporate the landmarks that surround Pietermaritzburg and really give the riders something great to see while really testing the top end of their mountain biking skills as well!"

    "The Umgeni Valley must be one of the standout landmarks that the riders are going to see but they will also have great views of Albert Falls Dam, the city of Pietermaritzburg as well as the Hilton College valley and Mount Verde," Floros said.

    Heading into the Umgeni Valley is one of the standout features of the race but getting there is going to have to take some clever work from the trail blazing guru and his team as the designers, and then the riders, will be confronted with...

  • La Ruta de los Conquistadores makes changes for 2014 edition

    2013 La Ruta de los Conquistadores winner Marconi Durán (Coopenae-Movistat-Eonomy)
    Article published:
    May 04, 2014, 19:40 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Route modifications and new categories coming

    La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a long-running mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica, is making some changes for its 2014 edition, including modifications to the route and new categories for racers.

    "The biggest change, and the one that has everybody anxious is the course change of stage 1," said Mariana Urbina to Cyclingnews. "Stage 1 will be shorter this year, but don't let that fool you. It'll have a lot less asphalt and way more climbing. Plus, it goes through a unique type of tropical forest that we have here in Costa Rica, called the Tropical Dry Forest, which is close to being extinct worldwide."

    Organizers are also introducting two new categories: singlespeed and 60+. They are the second and third new categories after they also added a fat bike category in 2013.

    "Anyone who tries to do La Ruta in a singlespeed has all of my respect and admiration because man, that sounds close to impossible," said Urbina.

    While it's too early for organizers to confirm any specific entrants, they are expecting the Specialized Racing team to send several riders as well as the winners of the 2014 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series.

    The next edition of La Ruta will take place on November 6-8, 2014. Marconi Duran (Coopenae-Movistar-Economy) and Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Cannondale) won the 2013 edition.

  • Past winners Bishop and Lindine to battle at Trans-Sylvania Epic

    Three-time past winner Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) returns to the Trans-Sylvania Epic in 2014 after missing the race in 2013.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2014, 18:48 BST
    Cycling News

    Most talented men's line-up ever for mountain bike stage race

    The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSEpic) is attracting the best elite men's field in its history. A deep and talented field of top riders from all over North America will compete during seven days of mountain bike racing from May 25 to May 31, 2014 near State College, Pennsylvania.

    Two past winners, Justin Lindine (Team Redline / NBX) and Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale), are the top favorites. Bishop won the first three editions of the Trans-Sylvania Epic and is undefeated in his appearances; however, he was absent in 2013, when Lindine claimed the yellow winner's jersey.

    "My specialty is stage races and 100-mile races and after focusing on the Pro XCT series of cross country races last year, racing the Trans-Sylvania Epic marks a return to my endurance racing," said Bishop, a former World Cup racer and national champion.

    "The cool thing about the TSEpic is that it's so dynamic," said Bishop. "There is a different character to each stage. The prologue favors the power rider; the Coburn stage is fast and favors those good at group tactics; and then there are the long, grinding, rocky stages. Some stages are flowy and some are hyper-technical."

    Back for the fourth time, Lindine will focus on the general classification. "The Trans-Sylvania Epic has come to be a cornerstone of my summer race season. This year, it kicks off the first of three week-long stage races I will be doing, including also the BC Bike Race and the Breck Epic, so I'm excited to get things off on the right foot!"

    "What I'm looking forward to the most for this year's race is being back on the east coast enjoying some awesome trails in good company," said Lindine. "I moved to Utah last summer and while the riding is great there, too, my heart will always be with the rooty, rocky wet trails of back east. More than that, I want to show that my overall win last year was no...

  • Compton tries out enduro racing

    Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) is going for her tenth championship
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 15:16 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    US Cyclo-cross national champion makes the podium in Moab

    US Cyclo-cross national champion and 2013-2014 UCI World Cup overall winner Katie Compton (Trek Cyclo-cross Collective) has raced many different cycling disciplines, but this past weekend she added one more to her resume: enduro mountain bike racing.

    "This was my first enduro, I have friends who race them and enjoy the scene, so I wanted to give it a try," Compton told Cyclingnews. "The one in Moab is an easier one (more pedaling, less full downhill) for me to do and also fun. I thought it would be a good way to test the waters without committing too much."

    Compton raced round 1 of the Enduro Cup in Moab, Utah. She finished in third place, after winner Heidi Rentz and runner-up Heather Irmiger.

    "After racing this weekend, enduro definitely moves towards the top of my list of fun racing. I think every mountain bike racer should give one a try, they are pretty fun and a great way to spend a weekend," she said.

    Of the many enduros that comprise the booming enduro scene, Compton chose the one in Moab because she knew the area and that the riding would be "super fun". It was also at the right time of year and she could drive there and camp, keeping costs down.

    Compton, best known recently for her 'cross accomplishments and longer ago for her track cycling achievements, is no stranger to mountain biking. She has previously won the US short track mountain bike national championships.

    "I thought it was fun, great riding, just enough racing to be hard but also plenty of time to be social, too. It's nice riding at a leisurely pace to the start, racing full gas on short sections then riding at a comfortable pace during the transitions. It's pretty social and like a group mountain bike ride on the flats and climbs and then you race the fun downhill trail sections."

    "I think this type of racing caters to a big group of riders. The stages are short enough where you don't need a ton of fitness to have...

  • Schurter and Absalon meet again at BMC Cup in Solothurn

    MTB world champion Nino Schurter (Orica-GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 19:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Stirnemann and Lechner favored for women's race

    After Nino Schurter's brief stint as a road racer, the cross country mountain bike world champion returns to the dirt for the BMC Racing Cup in Solothurn on Saturday. There Schurter will lock horns again with his persistent rival Julien Absalon. On the women's side, Kathrin Stirnemann is targeting the leader's jersey, but will face a tough challenge from recent World Cup winner Eva Lechner.

    ProTour newcomer Schurter enjoyed a lot of attention during the Tour de Romandie although he was not one of the main protagonists. He will also be the focus of interest at the Bike Days in Solothurn. On Saturday, the Scott-Odlo rider will face his long-time rival from France. BMC's Absalon, travels to Solothurn after two recent World Cup wins - one in South Africa, the other one in Australia - boosting his self-confidence, whereas Schurter's body may still be compensating for five days of elite road racing.

    "There is recovery on my schedule this week," said Schurter. "Certainly, what I just did was not really the best thing to do regarding the next mountain bike races, but I think it will pay off in the mid-term. We did some vivacious pedaling at the Tour de Romandie. Let's just see how things go in Solothurn."

    Schurter has won the Solothurn race three times in a row. Last year, he defeated Absalon, and two years ago he beat Germany's Moritz Milatz (BMC), who currently leads in the overall standings of the BMC Racing Cup after two rounds.

    German champion Milatz, winner of the round in Buchs, said, "I feel absolutely fine and I am ready to defend my leader's jersey."

    Milatz's BMC teammate Ralph Näf is coming off a win at the HC-category race in Haiming (Austria) last weekend....

  • Dahle-Flesjaa, Spitz and Engen to battle at Bundesliga opener in Saalhausen

    Alexandra Engen (Ghost) racing in the Bundesliga round in Saalhausen
    Article published:
    May 09, 2014, 19:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Fumic the favorite in men's race

    The German International MTB Bundesliga series opens in Lennestadt- Saalhausen this Sunday, May 11. Manuel Fumic (Cannondale), Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) and two Olympic champions Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) and Sabine Spitz (Haibike) are expected to line up for the start.

    Fresh off her win in Haiming, Austria last weekend,Dahle-Flesjaa is among the favorites for the women.

    "My form is very good. But I have to do races like this, if I want to have high performance at the World Cup races," said Dahle Flesjaa.

    Spitz has two top-six finishes at the World Cup so far this season, but she is reserved when it comes to her ambitions for Saalhausen. While Dahle Flesjaa opted to skip the trip to the Australia World Cup, Spitz is coming off re-adapting to local climate and time zone.

    "The journey home from Cairns was quite difficult," said Spitz. "I felt limp for days."

    "Riders, who decided to stay in Europe, of course, should be better prepared for Saalhausen," said the 42-year-old, who is the oldest World Cup winner of all time after her victory in Andorra in July of 2013.

    A third rider from the top six of the World Cup opener will also be at the starting line in Saalhausen. Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Team) is also the defending champion of the MTB Bundesliga.

    She, too, has had trouble recovering from the jetlag, but was more optimistic. "I like the race in Saalhausen. It is always fun to ride there, I love it. The course is a bit different. In Saalhausen, you stay in a group longer than usual," said Engen.

    Adelheid Morath is another woman to watch as is Belgian champion Githa Michiels (KMC - Trek), who rode a surprisingly...