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MTB News & Racing Round-up, January 5, 2010

Date published:
January 05, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Miguel Martinez in negotiations with Belgian team

    Miguel Martinez is riding as an independent
    Article published:
    January 04, 2010, 15:20 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Olympian may race for G-Skin Deforche in 2010

    Former cross country World Champion Miguel Martinez is in negotiations with a Belgian mountain bike team for the 2010 season. Since January 1, the Frenchman Martinez, 33, has been in talks with the G-Skin Deforche MTB Racing Team.

    "For some days, we've been in discussions with Miguel to find a solution acceptable to both parties. Miguel is a great champion," said Simon Gueuning, Team Manager and General Manager of G-Skin. "He showed this at the beginning of his return in 2009."

    "When I was contacted by Michel [Bajorek], our mechanic, about Miguel, I first thought it was a joke, but I soon realized he was serious. Then Miguel Martinez contacted us directly," said Gueuning.

    In 2009, Martinez intended to return to mountain bike racing full time after several years racing on the road. He signed with the Felt International Mountain Bike Team, but was dismissed from the team just before it folded in early June.

    Martinez won the Olympic Games and the World Championships in 2000. According to Gueuning, he is motivated to return to the highest levels of competition and attend the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

    The G-Skin Deforche MTB Racing Team has already signed Bjorn Brems, and the addition of Martinez could bump the squad up further in the international rankings.

    "After three days of debate things seem on track." Gueuning said the team's budget remains consistent but there may be room for Martinez if team management and sponsors determine that his signing will boost sales for the team's sponsors.

  • Fullana returns to on-the-bike training

    Marga Fullana (Massi) not only fast on her bike, but also fast on her feet.
    Article published:
    January 04, 2010, 19:40 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Off season spent running, cross training

    Former cross country World Champion Marga Fullana is several weeks into her preparation for the 2010 season, but much of her training thus far has been running rather than riding. The Spaniard has a passion not only for mountain biking, but also for athletics.

    In December, Fullana made it to the podium in a 'cross race and a 10km running race. She also joined the challenge of Toni Contesti, a runner who was competing in a 24-hour distance challenge.

    With the arrival of the New Year, the Spaniard is switching her focus back to the bike although she'll continue with some running, walking and gym sessions.

    The 37-year-old Fullana is expected to compete again in the full World Cup season and World Championships. She won the World Championships in 1999, 2000 and 2008. She ended the 2009 season ranked fifth in the World Cup.

  • St. Märgen round of German MTB-Bundesliga series cancelled

    Elite women's podium for the Bundesliga overall series.
    Article published:
    January 04, 2010, 21:02 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Economic downturn blamed for sponsorship woes

    The fourth round of German International MTB-Bundesliga national series has been cancelled due to financial problems. St. Märgen will not host an event in the 2010 series, which will continue with just five rounds for all categories and one Under 23-only round.

    In 2008 and 2009, St. Märgen, a small village in the Black Forest area, hosted the German National Championships. In previous years, it was a stop on the Bundesliga. It had been scheduled to host the Bundesliga round on July 3-4, 2010.

    However, the organizing committee could not find enough sponsors to secure the cross country race. One third of the total budget remained uncovered according to Reinhard Rüffer, head of the organizing committee. The recent economic downturn was blamed for the shortfall.

    "We didn't want to do it half-heartedly because the level of the Bundesliga is a high one," said a disappointed Rüffer.

    MTB-Bundesliga International 2010 (Revised)
    April 10-11: Round 1 - Leissling (C2, Under 23 only)
    April 17-18: Round 2 - Münsingen (C1)
    May 15-16: Round 3 - Heubach (HC)
    June 12-13: Round 4 - Albstadt (HC)
    August 14-15: Round 5 - Wetter (C1)
    September 18-19: Round 6 - Saalhausen (C1)

  • 2009 Reader Poll: SRAM's off-road range a favourite

    Giant designers built the new Anthem Advanced SL with slightly narrower chain stay spacing to better accommodate the SRAM XX crankset's narrow Q-factor option.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2010, 5:03 GMT
    By:
    James Huang, technical editor

    Cyclingnews readers vote for innovation in year end poll

    SRAM has taken the 'Best New Product' category in the annual Cyclingnews reader poll for a second year, this time on the off-road side with its envelope-pushing XX mountain bike group.

    Not surprisingly, XX is ultralight at under 2,300g for a nine-piece group but what's more impressive is how little – if anything – has been sacrificed to get there. Case in point is the 2x10 drivetrain layout: by using a wider-range cassette and intelligently spaced chainrings, XX nearly mimics the spread of a conventional 3x9 arrangement while also boasting the side benefits of a more direct chainline, fewer redundant gear ratios, and the option of a narrower pedal stance width.

    The individual components take several design cues from the road-going Red group, especially the stunning X-Dome cassette (pictured below). Like on Red, nearly all of the X-Dome's cogs are milled from a single cone-shaped steel forging for lightweight durability but the XX variant goes one step further with its aggressively milled interstices to prevent mud and debris from building up (and we only imagine that Red might eventually get the treatment).

    The new SRAM XX cassette is almost more air than metal.

    Add in powerful hydraulic disc brakes based on Avid's excellent Elixir CR model, shifters and derailleurs modeled after the powerful X.0, lots of premium materials such as titanium and carbon fiber, and a highly cohesive and integrated overall fit and feel and it's perhaps no surprise that XX has ended up at the top of the heap. Even more intriguing, however, is how SRAM might force Shimano's hand with its upcoming XTR revamp – we expect to get more information later this season and so far, the rumors are awfully enticing.

    A well-deserved bronze medal goes to Zipp's re-engineered...

  • US Pro XCT expands to six events

    Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru) descends a steep pitch.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2010, 16:30 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American cross country series adds two events

    The USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Tour (US Pro XCT) has added two events for its 2010 edition, bringing the total to six rounds. The Sea Otter Classic and the Mellow Johnny's Classic joins the only American series of UCI-sanctioned events.

    "The 2010 Pro XCT will provide one of the best calendars of quality UCI mountain bike races we've had in many years," said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. "We are committed to our long-stated goals of providing athletes with consistent top-level competition opportunities, increasing exposure for mountain biking domestically and maximizing US start spots at the sport's highest stages; and the Pro XCT national calendar provides a sustainable platform to help accomplish these goals."

    Following the series kick-off at Fontana, the Sea Otter Classic will serve as the second stop. Sea Otter's elite/pro men's and women's mountain bike races on April 18 will operate at the UCI C1 level, offering maximum ranking points to top riders.

    The Pro XCT will then move south to Lance Armstrong's ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas, for the Mellow Johnny's Classic on May 29. The first edition of the race was run in the fall, on short notice, and 2010 will be the first time the race is run in this spring slot.

    The series then continues at the Bump 'N Grind in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 5, the Subaru Cup in Mt. Morris, Wisconsin, on June 26 and the series finale in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 10.

    The UCI points up for grabs at each Pro XCT event are important to the process of qualifying Americans for mountain biking start spots for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, as well as determining the start order at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. The men's and women's overall Pro XCT champions will also automatically qualify a spot on the US squad for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

    In addition to providing a sequence of international-caliber events where elite cross country...

  • Show will go on in Houffalize

    Fans lined the Houffalize, Belgium, World Cup course to watch racers like Emily Batty.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2010, 17:33 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    UCI "confident" that Belgian World Cup round will happen

    The UCI said on Tuesday that the mountain bike World Cup round, set for Houffalize, Belgium, will likely happen despite Belgian media reports in late December that organizers were facing significant financial shortfalls that could cancel the event. Elite mountain bike racers and fans had been left wondering if the popular Belgian World Cup would happen as scheduled on May 1, 2010.

    "Peter Van den Abeele (UCI MTB coordinator) told me this morning he's confident Houffalize will host a World Cup race," said UCI Spokesperson Enrico Carpani to Cyclingnews.

    Houffalize is the only round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Belgium. Spaniard Margarita Fullana and Frenchman Julien Absalon won the 2009 edition. The venue is a popular one among racers and historically attracts large numbers of spectators.

  • New stage race for Germany

    Florian Vogel leads Moritz Milatz on the first lap of the men's race at the Bundesliga round in Albstadt.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2010, 19:56 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Three-day Trans Zollernalb visits Swabian mountains

    A new mountain bike stage race will premier in Germany near the end of the 2010 season. The three-day Trans Zollernalb will run through the western part of the Swabian Alb, a mountain range in Germany, from September 17 to 19. The race, covering 200km and featuring 4,500m of elevation change is categorized by the UCI as an C2 and will be promoted by Skyder Sportpromotion and sponsored by Sparkasse Zollernalb.

    The course will travel through the area of Landkreis Zollernalb, which already hosts events like the LBS Bike-Marathon and the Gonso Albstadt Classic. The latter is an HC-categorized cross country race.

    "We can benefit from the reputation of Albstadt as a mountain bike destination. And we are counting on the innumerable sportive riders, who for a three-day event don't need to take as much vacation as for an event like the seven-day TransAlp challenge," said Stephan Salscheider, CEO of Skyder Sportpromotion.

    Stage 1 will run on a Friday over 80km south of Stuttgart from Haigerloch-Bad Imnau to Balingen. The second day will take riders on to Albstadt over 75km, and the final day wraps competition up in Hechingen near the famous castle Hohenzollern.

    Licensed and unlicensed racers are invited to compete. Registration is limited to 500 for the race's first edition.

    Sparkasse Trans Zollernalb 2010
    September 17: Stage 1 - Haigerloch-Bad Imnau - Balingen, 50km, 900m elevation
    September 18: Stage 2 - Balingen - Albstadt, 75km, 1800m elevation
    September 19: Stage 3 - Albstadt - Hechingen, 80km, 1700m elevation

    For more information, visit www.sparkasse-trans-zollernalb.de.

  • Test of Metal sells out in record time

    Max Plaxton is a multi-time winner of the Test of Metal run annually in Squamish, British Columbia.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2010, 20:44 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    15th edition draws racers from five countries to Squamish

    The 15th annual Test of Metal sold out its 800 entries in record time - just under 25 minutes. Riders from as far away as Saskatchewan, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Colorado were among those registering for the race in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

    "I'm amazed every year at how quickly this thing sells out," said Race Director Cliff Miller, "and every year we seem to get entries from farther afield. This year we've got 64 riders coming from out of country."

    Riders for this year's race have registered from six different provinces, five states and five countries. Almost a quarter of the Canadian registrants are from outside the Lower Mainland.

    "The race is great for Squamish. It brings a lot of people to town," Miller said

    He also acknowledge the efforts of the more than 300 Squamish volunteers who each year ensure that the Test of Metal continues to be the most successful mountain bike race in Canada.

    "To be frank, without the volunteers and the people of Squamish lining the course, this would just be a bike race. It's the town that makes it the event that it's become. They're the ones who ensure this sells out so quickly," he said

    The Test of Metal, which will take place on June 19, 2010, is a gruelling 67-kilometre point-to-point mountain bike race through Squamish's trails.

    Past participants in the race include Canadian Olympians Alison Sydor, Geoff Kabush, and Seamus McGrath, as well as notable celebrities like Vancouver Canuck icon Trevor Linden.

    The Test of Metal is the centrepiece of the Squamish Mountain Bike Festival which will run from Friday, June 18 to Sunday June 21. The weekend activities include the "Pre-Test Festival" in downtown Squamish on Friday evening and the "Rock Star Invitational Downhill" on Sunday.

    "There's a whole weekend of family-oriented activities," said Miller. "Even if you're not racing, Squamish is a great place to spend that weekend."

    A 2006...