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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, October 19, 2012

Date published:
October 19, 2012, 21:00

Edited by Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to and results, reports & photos to

  • Multivan Merida Biking Team signs Litscher

    Thomas Litscher in action
    Article published:
    October 14, 2012, 19:00
    Cycling News

    Former U23 cross country world champion has high hopes for 2013

    Thomas Litscher will join the Multivan Merida Biking Team for the 2013 season. The Swiss mountain biker won 2011's under 23 cross country world championships and has signed a two-year contract with the team.

    At 23 years of age, Litscher has racked up an impressive number of victories in both the junior and under 23 categories. In 2007, the Swiss rider won both the world and European junior championships, and from 2009 to 2011, he won a bronze, silver and finally the gold medal at three consecutive under 23 cross country world championships.

    His successes have indicated to his new team that he has the potential to be a top contender within the elite cross country mountain bike ranks.

    Litscher's talent goes beyond cross country racing. The young rider has also been scoring some strong results in both sprint and marathon races. For example, he is the reigning Swiss national champion in the fledgling eliminator format, and 2011 he also won an 84-kilometre marathon in Offenburg.

    "I consider myself an all-rounder. Long, steep climbs are not my strong point, but the modern kind of cross country courses with a steady up and down and technical sections suits me perfectly," said Litscher. "And since I am quite an explosive kind of rider, I can also do well in the sprint eliminator format."

    His first year in the elite ranks, 2012, was plagued with injuries and crashes, and as a consequence, he dropped in the world rankings from a 12th to 39th. In Mont Sainte-Anne, he got his best World Cup result of the year with a 15th place.

    "But in 2011, I had four top 10 finishes in the World Cup, which is something I should be able to repeat next year. I just hope that I got all the bad luck in 2012, so I can get back to my old strength next year. Becoming a member of the Multivan Merida Biking Team to me means making the step to the sport's top league. Clad in this team's distinct colours, I want to further develop as a rider and establish myself within the elite ranks of the sport. And of course the big goal has to be the elite world championship title."

    Multivan Merida manager Andreas Rottler also expects a lot from his new signing from Switzerland. "Thomas is both a young and very complete top rider. He has a bright future ahead of him, and I am sure he's going to feel fine in our team. Signing Thomas was important to ensure a healthy mix of experienced and young athletes within the team. We are absolutely looking forward to working with him."

    Litscher has been racing with the Felt Ötztal X-Bionic team.

  • IMBA Honorary Board welcomes Overend, Rusch to new roles

    Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) rides in second place on Columbine Road
    Article published:
    October 14, 2012, 21:28
    Cycling News

    Rusch will chair trail group

    The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) welcomed a mountain biking legend to its honorary board and transferred leadership of the board to another vital member of the bicycling world. At its sixth Biennial World Summit last week, IMBA announced that Ned Overend would join the honorary board and that Rebecca Rusch would chair the board.

    The IMBA honorary board of directors is comprised of high-profile public figures and athletes who endorse and publicly support IMBA's mission to create, enhance and preserve great trail experiences. Other members of the board include Hill Abell, Lance Armstrong, John Burke, Stan Day, Juliana Furtado, Levi Leipheimer, Hans Rey, Mike Sinyard, Travis Stork and Dave Wiens.

    One of the sport's living legends, Ned Overend, is the owner of one of the best résumés in the fat tire world, including four NORBA National Championships, the NORBA World Championships, the European World Championships and the first-ever UCI World Championships. After "retiring" from full-time mountain biking in the mid-1990s, Overend went on to win two triathlon world championships. Today, "Deadly Nedly" is a vital member of the Specialized R&D team and captains the company's cross country squad.

    Rusch will assume the role of chairwoman of the board at the Santa Fe event. Rusch is, among other things, the four-time champion and course record holder of the Leadville Trail 100. In 2009, Rusch won her third straight mountain biking 24-hour Solo World Championship. Rusch also organizes a series of female ride initiatives called the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour, an event that combines race and training clinics at major bike events, female media camps and an all-girls MTB camp in her hometown of Ketchum, Idaho.

    "I'm honored to share the company of these great bicycling advocates and legends, and thrilled to take the leadership role of the honorary IMBA board," Rusch said. "We have a lot of things to be proud of in the year just past, and a lot of work to do in the year ahead. I'm excited to get started."

  • Multivan Merida Biking Team signs Cink

    Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic) wins the under 23 men's race at the 2012 MTB world championships
    Article published:
    October 15, 2012, 15:17
    Cycling News

    Young Czech rider strengthens mountain bike squad

    Under 23 cross country mountain bike world champion Ondrej Cink has signed with the Multivan Merida Biking Team for the next two years. The mountain biker has been racing for the Czech Merida distributor's race team, Merida Biking Team.

    "Stepping up to the Multivan Merida Biking Team is a big thing for me. Next year I want to establish myself in the top 20 in World Cup races, and in the mid-term Rio de Janeiro's Olympic games are my big goal."

    Throughout the 2012 World Cup, Cink was one of the strongest riders in the under 23 category. At the world championships in Saalfelden, Austria, he capped of a good season with the world championship title. In a thrilling duel, Cink managed to beat this year's under 23 World Cup overall winner Michiel van der Heijden. He also won this year's European championships in Moscow and finished the 2012 London Olympic Race in 14th.

    These successes opened the doors for his promotion from the Czech Merida team to the Taiwanese manufacturer's World Cup team. As the manager of the Multivan Merida Biking Team, Andreas Rottler said, "We are glad to welcome Ondrej Cink to our team. And we are convinced that he will find ideal surroundings with us to become a serious contender for top results in the elite category as well. After all, we already have two riders that have been under 23 World champion in our team with José Hermida and Thomas Litscher."

    Cink started mountain biking at the age of 13, following the suggestion of a good friend. Asked about his strengths and shortcomings, he said, "My biggest strength is that I can keep a cool head in the heat of racing action and stay on top of things. And of course I am quite a strong climber. On the other hand, I know that I can still improve in terms of riding skills"

    Cink also revealed that his idol in sports is not a cyclist, but is Usain Bolt.

    By signing Cink, the Multivan Merida Biking Team shows it is planning for the future. At the same time, Cink will be able to benefit from the vast experience of riders such as José Hermida and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå.

    "This mix of young, hungry riders and enormously experienced riders is perfect, as both sides can profit from each other," said Rottler. "Of course, we have to pay Merida Czechia a compliment : They have recognized Ondrej's talent very early and supported him ever since, and so far the under 23 World championship title has been the highlight of all this."

  • Mountain bike racers hospitalised after encounter with bees

    The leading pack tackles stoney jeep track during Stage 1
    Article published:
    October 16, 2012, 02:08
    Cycling News

    Stage 1 of Cape Pioneer Trek ends early for some

    Stage 1 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage in the Oudtshoorn region of South Africa was hit by a unexpected surprise when a group of mid-pack riders was met by a swarm of bees approximately 60km in the 103km stage from Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp on Monday.

    A total of 30 riders were badly stung and treated at the scene and nine were rushed to hospital for treatment at the Medi Clinic in Oudtshoorn.

    Carel Herholdt, of the event organisers Dryland, confirmed that the majority of the hospitalised riders were released on Monday evening and would be able to continue in the race.

    "We have adjusted the rules to accommodate the injured riders. All riders who are fit for riding may continue the race with no penalties. The medics were on the scene within two minutes of us calling them. We'd like to thank them for their fast and efficient handling of this very unusual matter," said Herholdt.

    Henk Meyer, one of the riders in the bee incident says he was amazed at the speed the emergency was taken care of.

    "I was treated on the scene with over 100 stings removed from me. Some riders were allergic and not so lucky to continue with their race. But the AMS chopper was on the scene in no time and airlifted the victims to safety. I have a lot of faith in the ability of the organisers," said Meyer.

    Max Friedrich and Nadine Rieder of Germany who finished first in the mixed team were lucky enough to miss the swarm of bees.

    "I will return to this race every year and tell all my friends and colleagues about your beautiful country and the excellent organising. Everything amazed me; there is no detail that was not taken care of. We did not even know about the bees," said Rieder.

    Emile Aldum, CEO of Bridge, the title sponsor, who is also participating in the event, assured that all the hospitalised riders and their bikes would be transported to Calitzdorp in order to prepare for Tuesday's stage 2, an 85km leg from Calitzdorp to the summit of the Swartberg Pass.

    See full coverage of the Cape Pioneer Trek on Cyclingnews.

  • Mountain bike racers make full recovery from bee attack

    The seven-day Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race covers a total distance of 534km (333 miles) through some of the most hostile wilderness in South Africa’s Western Cape Province.
    Article published:
    October 18, 2012, 17:27
    Cycling News

    Most riders continue racing Cape Pioneer Trek after treatment

    All of the victims of Monday's freak bee attack at the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek mountain bike stage race currently taking place in South Africa's Western Cape Province were discharged from hospital.

    Swiss national Claudia Gmuer, one of 30 competitors who rode into a swarm of bees during stage 1 of the seven-day international race was the last of the victims to be released from hospital on Tuesday and was back on her bike to complete stage 3 on Wednesday after missing Tuesday's stage 2.

    Gmuer was lying second in the solo women's category after Sunday's prologue stage, but was forced to abandon the race when she was rushed to hospital in a serious condition. Gmuer was a section of singletrack when she rounded a corner and was literally hit by a wall of bees.

    "They were everywhere," she said. "I didn't know what to do as they attacked me all over my body. Soon afterwards my hands started to go blue and numb and I felt dizzy. Luckily another rider and his teammate came upon the scene and assisted me to Water Point 2 where an ambulance was waiting and took me to hospital. Everyone who assisted me, from the staff, medics and fellow riders were incredible, I'm very grateful."

    Gmuer, along with most of those affected by the bee incident, has resumed the race and hopes to see the race to completion on Saturday, October 20.

    "I have come to this beautiful country to compete in the Cape Pioneer Trek," said Gmuer, "and I am determined to finish if I can. I will just take it day by day but I won't give up."

    Unsung heroes of the incident were the Scooters Pizza girls, who were in attendance at the second water point when the victims of the bee attack arrived. Bianca Firmani describes the scene as one of disbelief and shock.

    "We were waiting at Water Point 2 for the next batch of riders to come through and as a man approached us, he was covered from head to toe in 'stingers'. His skin was black and red and he had been stung on his face, his eyelids, his ears, his lips, everywhere!

    "As more riders came in with similar wounds we assisted in extracting every 'stinger', applied ice packs and cream. I have never seen anything like it, but am happy we were there to help," said Firmani.

    "All the riders who were affected by the swarm of bees are expected to make a full recovery," said Carel Herholdt of Dryland Event Management, organisers of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek. "We are very happy that nobody was fatally injured in this unfortunate incident and we are glad that most of the riders have decided to continue with the race."

  • Langkawi leader Davison battles leeches, snakes and mud

    Race leader Lea Davison (Specialized)
    Article published:
    October 19, 2012, 03:47
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Tough conditions test racers and equipment at Malaysian stage race

    Racers at the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC) have been battling some epic conditions this week in Malaysia during a six-day mountain bike stage race. Specialized Racing's Lea Davison and Todd Wells have been impressed by the conditions.

    Women's race leader Davison attacked early in stage 2 and found herself alone, racing in the jungle, for the duration. There were some interesting moments.

    "I was all alone in the jungle and just tried to focus on keeping moving forward. Then there was the loudest clap of thunder I've ever heard, and I seriously thought it was a bomb," said Davison.

    "This made me up the pace determined to find some company in the jungle. After half an hour, I realized it was thunder. I saw a snake. There was a leech on my neck. The entire trail was muddy, technical singletrack. It was a very challenging day for everyone."

    On stage 1, Davison watched on of her rivals for the overall victory take a swim in a giant mud puddle. "Eva (Lechner) was leading and went swimming accidentally into a puddle up to her handlebars. (She) literally endoed and disappeared. Crazy!"

    Wells, who won La Ruta de los Conquistadores in 2011, thinks Langkawi conditions are even more challenging than the notorious mud of the Costa Rican stage race.

    "I have been going through the equipment here - flatting two tires, destroying one wheel, going through brake pads and chains as well," said Wells after stage 1. "This race is very hard on the bike, and I think one day here is harder on the bike then the entire race in La Ruta. This is some serious mud here!"

    After stage 2, he said, "The mud here is something else. All this mud has been taking a toll on the equipment and requires almost a complete overhaul every night. The hoses and wash buckets here are working overtime. Today, I had brand new metal brake pads for the start, and they were completely gone after just two hours and something of racing. The mixture of sand and mud wreak havoc on the equipment."

    There are two more days to go in Langkawi. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage.

  • Paez renews with TX Active-Bianchi team

    Leonardo Paez takes victory at Lessinia Bike Legend
    Article published:
    October 19, 2012, 15:00
    Cycling News

    Colombian will focus on marathons in 2013

    Leonardo Paez, 30, extended his agreement with the TX Active-Bianchi team for a further season. The Colombian mountain biker will continue racing with the team until the end of 2013.

    "In 2013, I aim to redeem myself after a season featuring ups and downs by focusing only on marathon races. I'd like to give some important victories to TX Active-Bianchi team," Paez said.

    "We are aware of Paez's worth: he already showed his best skills in some occasions in 2012 as in the past. We'll go on to trust him, we are sure he will take important results in the most prestigious marathon races," said TX Active-Bianchi's Team Manager Massimo Ghirotto.

    In 2012, Paez won four races including the MTB Bike Clivus, Lessinia Bike Legend and the Sella Ronda Hero Marathon. He also won his cross country national championships and participated in the Olympic Games for Colombia. He finished 28th in London.

  • Crocodile Trophy about to go live for 2012 edition

    24-hour racer Jason English will test himself in a different kind of endurance race at the Crocodile Trophy
    Article published:
    October 19, 2012, 19:28
    Cycling News

    Favorites share thoughts on the eve of nine-day stage race

    The Crocodile Trophy, a nine-day mountain bike stage race through the Outback of Tropical Far North Queensland, will kick off on Saturday, October 20 and finish after more than 900km in Cooktown on Sunday, October 28. This year, the field of more than 130 racers is bigger and more competitive than ever before and during today's rider briefing the top favourites were mingling with adventurous mountain bikers from all over the world.

    This 2012 edition of the race will start at Smithfield's former World Cup tracks near Cairns before heading out onto the Atherton Tablelands towards the mining towns of Irvinebank and Maitland and passing the Mt Mulligan cattle station along the way.

    "Our race track has changed a lot from previous years. Our riders can expect more technical sections throughout almost each stage. Logistically the increased rider numbers meant that we ramped up the event's organisational crew and procedures, it's a massive operation," said organiser Gerhard Schönbacher at today's official pre-race briefing in Cairns.

    On of the most talked about topics was the racing venue for stage 1 at the Cairns MTB Club's home track in Smithfield, which will host the 30km lap race on a 6km course, which has been described by riders as "not too technical, but rewarding for the mountain bikers among the field".

    The big favourites this year are the Austrians Wolfgang Krenn and Josef Benetseder, who finished second and third, respectively in 2011, as well as a "Croc old hand" with Czech rider Ondrej Fojtik, winner of the race in 2008.

    Krenn arrived in Cairns with a lot of luggage and an empty wallet after the excess baggage charges. "It's worth it - I really like this race and it's been my main goal for this season. I look forward to the heat and the technical sections, especially on stage 7 and 8 with all those corrugations. I hope that one of us Austrians will win the race this year, but there are a lot of good racers here."

    Benetseder, the Austrian road hill climb champion, has his eyes on Grassy Hill, the historic and picturesque landing site of Captain Cook. "Indeed I am a climber, but my specialty is racing on roads. I am motivated to master the technical mountain bike sections, and I'm in good shape. My favourite stage is the last one - very long and that's what I am used to, because as a road racer I do races up to 200km frequently."

    Fojtik said, "I'm in excellent shape, so I think I'll have a very good chance to win this year's event. I finished second twice already and in 2008 I won, however, it was a very tough race for me that year and I didn't enjoy some of the race stages. Now I hope to win after a 'good' race." The Czech racing pro welcomed the race track changes, expecting that the race will be "better, shorter, harder and what's most important, it will be so much faster".

    Also last year's fastest Australian elite rider Justin Morris will be at the start line as well as Australia's very own 24-hour Solo World Champion Jason English from Port Macquarie.

    Morris hopes to take advantage of his technical racing skills to compete with the high-profile international racing field at the Crocodile Trophy this year. "I am the local rider, I know. But I don't know if this is a benefit. This year the race is changed, and I don't know what to expected. The stages are shorter, but more technical and the singletrack will be a piece of cake for us mountain bikers."

    English arrived in Cairns with another 24-hour solo win under his belt - from last weekend. It's not exactly going to be a recovery ride in the Outback, but he is looking forward to experiencing first hand what the Crocodile Trophy is all about after having heard so much about it. "I can't wait to get out there, it's great to be amongst so many different riders from all over the world, no doubt this is going to be an adventure!"

    The international field of riders further includes Canadian endurance mountain bike racer Cory Wallace, who finished fifth overall in 2010 as well as Belgian Mike Mulkens who is at the Croc start line for the fourth time in a row.

    Wallace said, "I decided to come only three weeks ago so after my summer racing season in Canada I just kept riding for miles each day to contain my shape." The Canadian can look back onto a very successful summer, having won several endurance and a stage race in Asia, the Mongolian Bike Challenge, which he described as very similar in terms of race logistics and dynamics. Wallace wouldn't put money on any of the favourites to win the Croc Trophy, stating that "every stage will be a battle, it is impossible to predict a winner".

    Mulkens wrote history at last year's event, however, wasn't rewarded due to mechanical issues towards the end of the stage race. "No flat tires, please, this year, because I want to win a boomerang. I focused all my training on the Crocodile Trophy and I believe that the race can be won or lose during stage two. It's a wall."

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the Crocodile Trophy.