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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Friday, October 26, 2012

Date published:
October 26, 2012, 06:00

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 mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

  • Pro mountain bikers affected by Rabobank decision

    Fabian Giger (Rabobank-Giant) breaks away
    Article published:
    October 20, 2012, 02:51
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Title sponsorship pulled, but contracts will be honored

    Although mountain bikers were not specifically mentioned by Rabobank in news earlier today that the company was ending its cycling team title sponsorship in the wake of recent doping scandals in professional road cycling, they will be affected by the fallout.

    On Friday morning, Rabobank management had announced that its pro cycling teams would continue to exist in 2013, but under a "white label". The announcement specifically mentioned pro male and female road racers as well as cyclo-crossers, but mountain bikers were not named even though Rabobank is the co-title sponsor of the Rabobank-Giant Offroad team which races on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup circuit.

    A spokesperson for the Pressoffice Rabobank confirmed to Cyclingnews on Friday afternoon that in fact, the mountain bikers were also affected.

    "The professionals, including the mountain bike team, will be put under the new foundation during 2013. Riders of the 'white label' foundation won't wear jerseys with Rabobank on them, but Rabobank will honour the contracts with the riders."

    The arrangement is like that already detailed for the elite road cycling teams.

    The Rabobank-Giant Offroad team includes racers such as Fabian Giger, who is currently leading the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge and Emil Lindgren, who won today's stage 4 at the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge. Adam Craig, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Michiel Van Der Heijden, Henk Jaap Moorlag and Rosara Joseph are some other mountain bikers sponsored by Rabobank.

    Giger tweeted in response to the news, "Very sad news about Rabobank stops sponsoring.But i m sure @jantentusscher and @giantbicycles will build now a even better and stronger team."

  • Trek World Racing discontinues cross country race program for 2013

    Anton Cooper (New Zealand) is the prohibitive favourite for the junior men
    Article published:
    October 23, 2012, 13:55
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team will focus on gravity only

    Following a recent announcement that Aaron Gwin has renewed a deal with Trek World Racing for the next three years, the team confirmed that it will focus only on gravity moving forward.

    As Trek World Racing refocuses on gravity, it will be bolstering its line-up of riders by adding another top rider. Trek World Racing will announce its remaining roster of three additional gravity riders later in the year. Gwin is the only confirmed signing thus far.

    After four years of successfully racing at the sharp end of the World Cup cross country scene with talented athletes like Lukas Flueckiger, Mathias Flueckiger, Emily Batty, Anton Cooper, Willow Rockwell and Liam Killeen, the Trek World Racing cross country program will be finishing at the end of this year.

    Team Director Martin Whiteley said, "We are extremely grateful for having been entrusted with the development of the XC World Cup program for Trek over the past four years. With two world championships, Worlds silver and bronze, a World Cup title, three World Cup race wins and 23 World Cup podiums, we are very happy with our record. Apart from the extremely talented athletes, we've been privileged to work with, we'd like to thank our cross country-specific sponsors for their support of this discipline. We certainly wish our current riders all the best for the continuation of their brilliant careers."

    With the Trek World Racing team focusing on gravity, Trek will continue to support cross country racing at the highest levels with a separate Trek Cross Country Program under the management of Jon Rourke, who is the current Team Director of the Subaru-Trek program.

  • Cherise Stander takes her career off-road

    Cherise Stander claims the South African marathon national title.
    Article published:
    October 24, 2012, 09:55
    By:
    Cycling News

    South African switches from road to mountain bike racing

    Cherise Stander is bringing an end to her road racing career and switching to mountain bike racing. Starting in 2013, Stander will compete primarily in mountain bike races. Her goal is to represent South Africa at the 2014 UCI Marathon Mountain Bike World Championship in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Cherise is the wife of World Cup elite mountain biker Burry Stander (Specialized) and earlier this season she won the South African marathon national championships.

    "I am not saying that I will never compete in road cycling events at all, but after not being selected for the women's road cycling team that competed at the Olympic Games in London, and also because of the atmosphere at the world road championship in the Netherlands, I think it will be a good idea for me to focus on something else for a while," said Stander, who races currently for Momentum-Toyota.

    "I really had enough of all the internal politics of South African cycling. If circumstances should change over the next few years, I might consider a comeback to road cycling. But for now I will only compete in the odd local road race and, when I am overseas and an opportunity should arise, I might compete in a criterium."

    Stander has previously proved her versatility both on and off road. In 2010, she made South African cycling history by winning both the Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge as well as the Momentum 94.7 Cycle. Last year she was second overall in the Cycle Challenge and she'll be back this year for the South African road event, her swansong event on the road, on November 18.

    "The Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge is one of the most special events on the local cycling calendar and there is great prestige involved for whoever wins. In women's cycling this is one of the most difficult races to win, because it is so unpredictable and also because the racing is so hard." She tipped Lisé Olivier and An-Li Pretorius (MTN-Qhubeka) as the two riders who can upset her plans.

  • Matter and Strigel celebrate overall WORS wins

    Brian Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek) was the fastest WORS racer at the Subaru Cup Pro XCT, and won his 4th WORS elite men's overall title.
    Article published:
    October 24, 2012, 10:29
    By:
    Todd Nutter

    Juniors recognized at Wisconsin Off Road Series season-ending banquet

    The Subaru Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) celebrated the close of its 21st season this past Saturday, October 20 with its annual Awards Banquet at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Abby Strigel (Honey Stinger / Bontrager) won the WORS elite women's series for the sixth time, racing undefeated in 2012. In the men's series, Brian Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek) grabbed the overall crown for his fourth time, tying Tristan Schouten for most overall titles in the men's contest.

    The highlight of both Matter and Strigel's season was the Subaru Cup US Pro XCT event in Mount Morris, Wisconsin. Matter led the Wisconsin men with an 11th place finish in the cross country race and a sixth place finish in the short track race on the second day of the event. "For me, that's the one national race that I do race," said Matter. "I don't do much other travelling for mountain bike racing. So that is definitely a good opportunity to kind of see where I'm at as a mountain biker against some of the best guys in the country."

    Strigel finished in seventh place among the elite women in the Subaru Cup and won the super D. In addition, Strigel has been unstoppable in Wisconsin this season, winning all nine of the WORS races she entered. When asked about her highlight of her season, Strigel recalled "probably Subaru Cup, one of the US Pro XCT races. I got to race with a lot of fast people and I finally got a top 10... So that was really exciting." In 2013, she intends to travel to compete at additional US Pro XCT events with the support of sponsor and employer Bontrager/Trek.

    WORS fans are used to seeing rising stars move up to the elite ranks and each year, a few truly stand out. This year Corey Stelljes (The Bike Hub) surprised even his coach, Brian Matter, as he attacked the lead group on a brutal climb at the Wausau, Wisconsin Trek Big Ring Classic. The bold move earned the former All American runner a fourth place elite finish at that race and showed that he has what it takes to hang with the fastest guys in the field. His season also improved overall from last year moving from 10th overall in 2011 to fifth place in the 2012 season.

    In the women's series, Amber Markey (Magnus) started the season as a novice Cat. 2 and ended it on the second step of the elite women's podium. Markey finished the season with an impressive four first place finishes in the elite field, winning each time series leader Strigel was absent. The 2013 season should prove to be a very competitive year for these two up and coming racers.

    At the close of its 21st year, WORS remains America's largest state mountain bike racing series. In response to a local resurgence in youth racing, especially among those participants 14 and under, WORS declared 2012 "The Year of the Junior". In 2012 alone, WORS hosted nearly 2,700 junior entrants. Over 1,700 of those 17 and under competed in singletrack races 30-minutes and longer, ranging from the beginner level to Cat. 1 elite. The WORS Kid's Race, a contest for those 10 and under, averaged over 80 participants at each WORS venue in 2012. WORS Series Director Don Edberg, who coaches a local WORS Junior Development team, is ready to bring even greater focus to the support of Midwest Junior competitors. A strong emphasis on junior club formation and development are planned for the WORS 2013 Season.

    The following video, provided by WORS, includes interviews with some of the racers at the season-ending banquet.

    Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) Standings

    Elite women final 2012 WORS standings
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Abby Strigel (Honey Stinger/Bontrager)    
    2 Amber Markey (Magnus)    
    3 Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212/Specialized)    
    4 Lori Sable (K9 Dynamics)    
    5 Denise Coppock (Titletown Flyers)    
    Elite men final 2012 WORS standings
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Brian Matter (Gear Grinder/Trek)    
    2 Nathan Guerra (Vision/Wheel & Sprocket)    
    3 Darrin Braun (Adventure 212/Specialized)    
    4 Tyler Gauthier (Culver's Racing)    
    5 Corey Stelljes (The Bike Hub/Specialized)    
    6 Mike Phillips (Adventure 212/Specialized)    
    7 Kevin McConnell (Mercy-Specialized)    
    8 Justin Piontek (The Bike Hub/Specialized)    
    9 Isaac Neff (Williamson Bicycle Works)    
    10 Ray Nelson (Treadhead Cycling)    
    11 Brian Heifner (Magnus)    
    12 Ryan Krayer (Adventure 212/Specialized)    
    13 Tyler Jenema (Kuhl Racing)    
    14 Carlos Haeckel (Alterra Coffee)    
    15 Ronald Stawicki (Polska)    
  • UCI Mountain Bike World Cup webcasting proves successful

    The elite men's World Cup start in Windham, New York
    Article published:
    October 24, 2012, 12:00
    By:
    Cycling News

    Viewing figures for internet video nearly quadruple

    Viewership of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup video coverage soared in 2012, the first year when the UCI and Redbull Media House (RBMH) partnered on coverage.  In previous years, the UCI had teamed up with Freecaster.tv on World Cup video mountain bike coverage.

    In total, 1.46 million internet users watched videos of the World Cup action in 2012 on the internet, whether live broadcasts or replays. The final figure is likely even higher, since the videos from the Windham, United States and Val d'Isère, France rounds were not included in the count, for technical reasons.

    The Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada round, which was raced in June, recorded the strongest growth. The cross country event went from 25,927 views last year to 102,309 this year. The growth rate is the same for downhill, from 38,388 to 110,055 views.

    Overall, two-thirds was watched live rather than replayed.

    Downhill events were most successful, with 860,745 videos viewed during the 2012 World Cup. The most followed event was the downhill race at Fort William, Great Britain in June, which received 166,219 views.

    The UCI had a mission to give new impulse to the video coverage of the World Cup. Its partner RBMH provided production, webcasting and content syndication.

    "The significant increase in media coverage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup shows that this discipline holds great media potential," said Nicole Gruber, Commercial Manager at UCI. "Our partnership with Red Bull Media House has been very successful and we worked hard together to develop responses to the interest which mountain bike creates. We used more and better filming, production and promotion techniques on site."

    "We want to go further," said Gruber, "specifically behind the scenes at events. We want to develop media coverage of mountain bike even more in the coming years."

    The uptick came in an Olympic year although the numbers mentioned above do not include Olympic viewership as rights and production were done by other parties.

  • South Carolina group wins 2012 USAC/IMBA Trail Tune-Up Grant

    A rider on singletrack littered with rocks
    Article published:
    October 25, 2012, 15:21
    By:
    Cycling News

    Poinsett Race Circuit to move to year-round venue

    USA Cycling and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) named SORBA-Midlands the 2012 recipient of the USA Cycling/IMBA Trail Tune-Up Grant.

    The South Carolina group will net $2,000 in funding, as well as a follow-up visit from the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew, which will provide technical assistance for the grant winner's trail projects.

    The assistance will allow the Midlands, South Carolina chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), to move the Poinsett Race Circuit from a state forest to an adjacent state park.

    "Closures during hunting season made the state forest a less than ideal location for this popular racing and training venue," said SORBA Midland's Steve Masone. "Moving to the state park will allow for year-round access."

    The grant was first announced earlier this month at the IMBA World Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Masone on hand to receive the award.

    Applicants for the IMBA/USAC Trail Tune-up Grant were USA Cycling and IMBA member clubs from all over the USA. The grant is awarded annually and completely funded by USA Cycling members through an optional land access checkbox on USA Cycling license applications and renewal forms.

  • Federspiel tops eliminator mountain bike rankings

    The men's world championship eliminator podium: Miha Halzer, Ralph Naf, Daniel Federspiel
    Article published:
    October 25, 2012, 21:05
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Eliminator ranking site aims to boost fledgling discipline

    The young discipline of cross country eliminator mountain bike racing is still getting established, and one website is hoping it will garner more attention for the fledgling discipline by creating a ranking of top eliminator racers.

    Eliminators made their debut as test events in the World Cup in 2011 and the first-ever eliminator world championships were held in Saalfelden, Austria, in September of 2012. The UCI does not maintain separate rankings for the eliminator sub-discipline of mountain biking, so the website xceliminator.com took a stab at doing so.

    It calculated Daniel Federspiel as the best eliminator rider of 2012 with 740 points. Behind him were Miha Halzer with 658 points and Paul van der Ploeg with 649 points.

    The site ranked UCI-categorized eliminators by their UCI cross country equivalent points. National championships were not included because not all nations hold eliminator national championships.

    Currently the UCI includes eliminator points in with cross country rider rankings for UCI-categorized races. Xceliminator.com explained its motives in producing the separate rankings. "This website is launched to accelerate the development of the mountain bike discipline cross country eliminator (XCE). We disagree with the fact that this type of race was only a supplement to cross country in 2012. We think XCE should be ranked on its own. With own races, own rankings and own world class riders. Therefore, we created our own World Ranking on this site.

    "With this website, we try to encourage organizations, bikers and especially the UCI to separate the XCE experience from cross country. Off course, both events supplement each other in a weekend, but the 2012 season has showed us that XCE is just a different type of game. Most of the time, the results are far from the same. Exceptions like reigning world champion [Ralph] Naef excluded, of course..."  Cross country veteran Naef won the first men's eliminator Worlds title.

    Noticeably missing from the site are women's eliminator rankings. When asked about this, xceliminator.com's publisher said, "It is my intention to do this, but I don't have women's standings yet." One reason he cited is the lack of availability of some of the women's eliminator results and the other is not having gotten to it yet. "I will get to it after this, but I have a whole winter to create content without races."

    For 2013, xceliminator.com is aiming for two rankings - one that is a year-long ranking and one that is a sort of World Cup ranking, like what the UCI does already for cross country and downhill disciplines. "Hopefully, sponsors will join to make a ranking prize. This would stimulate the top XCE riders to ride more than just the World Cups."

    Xceliminator.com is also hoping its ranking efforts, especially if national championships are included in the rankings next year, will motivate more federations to hold races which award eliminator national titles.

    The website published a draft calendar for 2013 rankings on its site at www.xceliminator.com/p/calendar.html and is inviting organizers of UCI categorized 3 or higher events to contact them to be added to the calendar.

    The top 25 riders in the 2012 ranking are shown below. See www.xceliminator.com/p/world-ranking.html for the complete ranking of 291 racers.

    2012 Men's Eliminator World Rankings
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Daniel Federspiel (Aut) 740  pts
    2 Miha Halzer (Slo) 658  
    3 Paul Van Der Ploeg (Aus) 649  
    4 Simon Gegenheimer (Ger) 640  
    5 Sepp Freiburghaus (Swi) 519  
    6 Martin Gluth (Ger) 459  
    7 Brian Lopes (USA) 458  
    8 Mirco Widmer (Swi) 440  
    9 Ralph Naef (Swi) 380  
    10 Fabrice Mels (Bel) 345  
    11 Simon Stiebjahn (Ger) 327  
    12 Dennis Ebert (Ned) 294  
    13 Heiko Gutmann (Ger) 290  
    14 Stefan Peter (Swi) 289  
    15 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) 284  
    16 Marek Konwa (Pol) 282  
    17 Kenta Gallagher (GBr) 279  
    18 Chris Jongewaard (Aus) 267  
    19 Patrick Lüthi (Swi) 250  
    20 Manuel Fumic (Ger) 245  
    21 Lukas Kaufmann (Swi) 241  
    22 Thomas Litscher (Swi) 235  
    23 Kevin Van Hoovels (Bel) 235  
    24 Severin Disch (Swi) 222  
    25 Christian Pfäffle (Ger) 206  
  • Top Australian juniors gather in Canberra

    Australian junior mountain bikers at a talent development camp.
    Article published:
    October 26, 2012, 04:05
    By:
    Cycling News

    Mountain bikers get coaching and tested in lead-up to season

    The Australian Institute of Sport Canberra and surrounding hills were a hive of activity as 40 interstate junior mountain bikers were tested and coached to become holistically stronger athletes from October 19-21. The juniors came to improve their cycling talent physically, tactically, technically and excelled working together as a team at the third National Skills Development camp.

    Riders across five states and two territories proudly represented their local clubs including Red Hill Riders, Canberra Off Road Cyclists, Darwin Off Road Cyclists, Brisbane MTBC, Noosa Trail Blazers, Western Sydney MTBC, Dirt Riders and Central Australian Rough Riders.

    Fresh off the podium from the Queensland State Championships, Dean Madden (Brisbane South Mountain Bike Club) and Jonathan Noble (Noosa Trailblazers Mountain Bike Club) were keen to learn as much from the coaches and through the skills sessions. Each rider completed a number of skill based activities as well as presentations on hydration, and sports science. Expert mountain bike Australia (MTBA) coaches applied verbal feedback and diagnostic assessment at the AIS facilities.

    U17 Manager Greg Meyland said, "The camp gives me the initial head start to my objectives before the national season commences. I have had the opportunity to communicate and understand where our riders are at, and what steps they they will endeavour to take to reach their highest potential."

    U17 cross country National Series Champion for 2011, Hamish Prosser's aim in his third camp was to focus on "what I have to do to see how I can improve in 2013".

    Downhill Manager and former pro racer Jared Rando said, "This camp is a fantastic initiative by MTBA's EDP. It gives young athletes from both downhill and cross country a taste of what lays ahead of them as a future representative of Australian Mountain Biking. In many ways, it's the first step to becoming a professional racer and learning what it will take to get there. It's a unique opportunity for the young racers of Australia, backed by a solid philosophy in what it takes to develop our young athletes."

    Rando also welcomed testing across the disciplines of four cross, cross country and downhill. "There are lots to be learnt from each other." The athletes were delighted to have Rando's calibre available after his team's 2012 performances including world championship's bronze medalists Danielle Beecroft (junior women's downhill) and Connor Fearon (junior men's downhill). The elite men's downhill team established Australia as number 1 nation while the junior men's downhill team helped Australia to a second-placed ranking.

    The athletes learnt how important it is to focus on a dynamic warm-up. "it's recommended to integrate small session of strength and core stability even before you get onto the bike at least three times a week," said MTBA’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Signor.

    Experienced NTID coach Tim Ellison with the National Sporting Director structured the camp sessions to the finest of detail to build on fundamental skills to enable Australian athletes to compete with the best.

    "You need to become physically, technically and then tactically strong," said Ellison, who stressed that "success also comes from training as one team moving forward, to perform as a World class rider you also have to be a team player and contribute with your excellent individual characteristics".