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MTB News & Racing Round-up, January 8, 2010

Date published:
January 08, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup kicks off in Christchurch this weekend

    Rosara Joseph (New Zealand)
    Article published:
    January 07, 2010, 16:02 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Pedemenaud, Joseph and others to test legs in downhill, cross country

    The RaboPlus 2010 New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup launches this weekend in Christchurch. The six-event national series for cross country and downhill disciplines, will take competitors all over the North and South Islands of New Zealand in January and February, culminating in the RaboPlus Mountain Bike National Championships at the end of February in Wellington.

    Christchurch is proudly hosting the first round of the 2010 Cup this weekend at a new venue on the national mountain bike circuit. The Living Springs Farm Park in Governors Bay will be the event base for the downhill race on Saturday, and the gruelling cross country race on Sunday.

    Christchurch is also hosting the RaboPlus National Elite Road Cycling Championships this weekend, in what will be an amazing weekend of national level competitive cycling for the city.

    Saturday's downhill event has attracted a number of New Zealand's best gravity racers, with Dunedin's Justin Leov featuring. Leov, formerly of Christchurch, is a world ranked top 10 athlete. Leov will square off against several other current New Zealand National Mountain Bike Team members as well as a number of international visitors.

    Frenchman Fabien Pedemenaud has raced previously in New Zealand, and is returning again in 2010 to maintain a high level of off season racing fitness before the 2010 World Cups start in May.

    Current downhill junior World Champion Brook MacDonald has moved up into the elite category this year. Another Hawkes Bay charger, George Brannigan will be racing his first year in elite this summer and while still a junior, Brannigan is eager to kick on following his 2009 top 10 junior World Championship finish.

    The cross country race on Sunday also features several current New Zealand National Team athletes racing their first competitive national level event. Brendon Sharratt of Christchurch returns to his home turf with a new sponsor and renewed enthuisiasm and will be hard to...

  • Amateurs, fans welcome to try Aussie mountain bike championship course

    A rider on the trails in Adelaide, Australia.
    Article published:
    January 07, 2010, 17:59 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Kona Dirty Dozen features same tracks raced by the pros

    Amateur mountain bikers will have a chance to ride in the tracks of the pros at the Australian Mountain Bike National Championships next weekend. The Kona Dirty Dozen will give hundreds of "regular mountain bikers" an opportunity to try out the cross country tracks at Eagle Mountain Bike Park, the site of the nationals in Adelaide.

    During the event on January 16 from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm, anybody can ride the same track as the pros. For four hours, riders will complete as many laps as they can while a timer counts individual lap times. Once the sun sets, darkness will kick in, adding to the challenge.

    "This will give people who normally support and cheer the world's best mountain bikers from the sidelines a chance to get out there and ride the track themselves," said Christian Haag, Bicycle SA CEO. "Riding the Olympic Cross Country track at Eagle with the support of the Championships behind you is a fantastic one-off opportunity for mountain bikers everywhere."

    During the championships, Bicycle SA and the Office for Recreation & Sport are also offering free "Come and Try MTB skills sessions". On January 15-16, experienced mountain bikers will provide skills sessions for beginners to test and practice riding obstacles, wheel lifting, and much more.

    "If you are not quite ready for the Olympic Cross Country track, the be active Come and Try MTB skills sessions will give you the basics to get started." Haag said.

    The inaugural Dirty Dozen is officially associated with the Australian Mountain Bike Championships.

    For more information or to register, visit

  • 2009 Reader Poll: Absalon best male mountain biker

    Julien Absalon (Orbea) wins the cross country event at the the Offenburg, Germany World Cup round.
    Article published:
    January 07, 2010, 21:54 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Cyclingnews readers vote Frenchman to the top again

    French cross country racer Julien Absalon won his fifth Cyclingnews Male Mountain Biker of the Year award in decisive fashion, tallying 5,081 (36%) of a total 14,070 votes cast. He previously won the poll in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

    With his usual class and smooth riding style, the 29-year-old Absalon dominated the UCI World Cup throughout 2009, finishing in the top three in all but two rounds. He opened the season with a second place in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and then kicked off a four-in-a-row winning streak that carried him through the Offenburg, Germany; Houffalize, Belgium; Madrid, Spain; and Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec rounds. He took an additional second place - at Champéry, Switzerland.

    The only blemish in an otherwise extremely successful season came when he was beaten by the up-and-coming Nino Schurter at the World Championships in Canberra, Australia. The race came down to a two-man duel, with the young, promising Swiss rider - a former Under 23 World Champion - defeating the experienced Absalon - a former World Champion - in the final meters of the race, making it one of the most exciting World Championships in years.

    Absalon has won the World Championship cross country title four times, most recently in 2007. He has also won gold in two Olympic Games - at Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

    At the end of the season, Absalon indicated that he intended to finish out his career with his Orbea team, riding until the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

    Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) wins his first World Cup.

    Geoff Kabush repeated his runner-up poll performance of 2007 with a second place in the 2009 poll, thanks to 1,991 votes (14%). Kabush won the poll in 2005. The Canadian put in a consistent season to finish eighth, as top North American, in the...

  • Swedish champion Dennis Dertell signs with 23 Degrees

    Young downhiller Dennis Dertell
    Article published:
    January 08, 2010, 15:07 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    20-year-old aims for top 20 in World Cups

    Swedish champion downhiller Dennis Dertell will race under the Team 23 Degrees name in 2010, aboard a Trek Session 88, and kitted out by Alpinestars and adidas eyewear. Dertrell joined the list of athletes managed by the Spanish-based agency 23 Degrees Sports for 2010 including South African Greg Minnaar, Americans Kyle Strait and Neko Mulally, New Zealanders Sam Blenkinsop and Justin Leov and Great Britain's Bernard Kerr.

    The Stockholm-based Dertell turns 20 years old today. Despite his youth, he has already amassed 15 gold medals at Swedish National Titles in various age categories and disciplines including road, four cross, cross country and downhill.

    "I'm so excited for this, it's like a dream coming true for me," said Dertell. "I've been working hard for this, and I have a feeling that this year going to be a great year. To be racing on the full World Cup tour with support and the knowledge that 23 Degrees can bring will make a huge difference," said Dertell who got the perfect birthday present in the form of a new Trek. "I have just built it up. I'm about to hit the snow!"

    In 2008 in Gesunda, he was crowned the junior downhill national champion of Sweden, in a time that was nearly a second faster than elite champion and World Cup perennial Robin Wallner. No Swedish Championship was held in 2009, but Dertell rode for a Swedish-based team and competed in a number of World Cups, qualifying at round one, but unfortunately crashing out in round two.

    On his return to fitness and racing in Maribor, he was 23rd at the final split before crashing and breaking his foot in two places and ending the season, but not without catching the attention of 23 Degrees owner, Martin Whiteley.

    "I'd heard about this kid from the iXS Cups in 2008. He had a lot of success winning junior races and finishing second overall, as well as getting a podium on scratch. Sweden has been a powerhouse nation in the past for downhill, and there is a...

  • 2009 Reader Poll: Irmiger honoured as best female mountain biker

    US National cross country Champion Heather Irmiger (Gary Fisher/Subaru)
    Article published:
    January 08, 2010, 15:09 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Double US national champ's winning ways capture votes of Cyclingnews readers

    The Cyclingnews Female Mountain Biker of the Year contest proved much tighter than the men's. When the numbers were tallied, American Heather Irmiger came out as the winner with 2,489, or 18 percent, of the total vote.

    Irmiger had a season in which she met one goal after another as she proved her strength racing cross country, short track, marathon and singlespeed disciplines. Two highlights included her win at the US Marathon National Championship on July 4th and then two weekends later another win at the US Cross Country National Championship. To make it even sweeter, Irmiger's husband Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski won the same two titles on the same days, making for a husband-wife sweep of two of the most important mountain bike races in the US. The pair celebrated their national championships racing in their home state of Colorado in front of countless friends and family.

    Irmiger, who finished third in the US ProXCT final standings, wrapped up her season with wins at the Singlespeed World Championships in Durango, Colorado, and the Mellow Johnny's Classic in Texas. She ended up ranked 23rd in the World Cup standings.

    Both second and third spots in the poll were occupied by World Champions, each with approximately 13 percent of the vote. Cross country queen Irina Kalentieva took second with 1,894 votes while four crosser Caroline Buchanan logged 1,789 votes. Both riders had impressive performances throughout this season.

    Irina Kalentieva (Russia), the new World Champion, greets the crowd.

    Kalentieva (above) came from behind at the World Championships in Canberra, Australia, to win on the final lap after an epic battle with Lene Byberg. The Russian stepped back into the role of World Champion - a title she also held in 2007. Despite no World Cup wins, she finished fourth overall in...

  • Platt recovered from shoulder surgery

    Karl Platt trains on Majorca after recovering from shoulder surgery.
    Article published:
    January 08, 2010, 16:23 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Team Bulls riders prepare for 2010 season

    Endurance mountain biker Karl Platt of Team Bulls is back in the saddle following shoulder surgery in October. The German underwent surgery to address the frequent shoulder dislocations he'd been suffering last season. He is doing well after recuperating from the operation and has returned to on-the-bike training.

    "This is a completely new feeling on the bike. My right shoulder feels stable," said Platt. "I can ride without inhibition and am free to move in every way on my bike without having to worry about another dislocation."

    "The long break to recover from surgery has been good. I asked a lot of my body in recent years - both in training and racing - up to 60 days per season. Now my battery is fully recharged and the 2010 season is coming!" said a motivated Platt, who spent some time recently training in Majorca.

    Despite winter's firm grip on Europe, Platt's teammates have been busy training in preparation for the 2010 mountain bike season, too.

    Frenchman Thomas Dietsch took a vacation to Greece where over 10 days, he explored Hellenic culture - on his bike, of course. A few days after his return, he was invited to participate in a five-day stage race on the French Island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean. There, he won two stages and finished sixth overall before heading to his native Alsace for some skiing.

    Simon Stiebjahn logged some important training kilometres in the region around Alanya, Turkey, while Stefan Sahm has been entertaining himself with winter sports. In the Bernese Oberland, Sahm been snowshoeing and skate skiing and snowboarding.

    "Cross-country skiing and snowshoe touring are a perfect balance to the many miles in the saddle and at the same time give endurance. You train the core and also cycling muscles - it's an optimal balance of stressing the whole body. And it's fun, too," said Sahm.

    Teammate Tim Boehme has been racing cyclo-cross, and many of his fellow Bulls riders will...