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MTB News & Racing Round-up, July 14, 2010

Date published:
July 14, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Several thousand expected for Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike

    Racers in the Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike
    Article published:
    July 09, 2010, 12:35 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Defending champs De Bertolis, Schwing to return

    Stefan Sahm, Karl Platt, Roel Paulissen, Thomas Dietsch, Urs Huber and Mike Felderer are among those who will be racing the 16th Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike on Sunday, July 11 in South Tyrol, Italy.

    Huber is a past Superbike winner (in 2008), and Platt and Sahm showed their form earlier this year by winning the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa. This will be the first Superbike competition for Sahm whereas Platt knows the route extremely well.

    "I am coming to win," said marathon World Champion Paulissen.

    "The Dolomiti Superbike is one of my season's highlight," said Huber.

    Massimo De Bertolis will also be on hand trying to defend his win of last year as will last year's women's winner, German Kathrin Schwing. She recently took first place at the German Bike Marathon in Bad Wildbad and was placed second in the Rocky Mountain Marathon at Lake Garda.

    "I had worked very hard to stay up front last year, and I still have that in my mind. To cross the finish line was a fantastic feeling," said Schwing.

    Sunday's race is the second leg of a two-race challenge. The first was held on June 2 at the 14th Lessinia Legend race.  This Sunday's event in the Pusteria will cover 119.9km. A total of 3,500 cyclists are expected.

  • Craig, Minnaar among favorites for Downieville Classic

    USA Champion Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant) attacking the field.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2010, 17:56 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    All Mountain Riders ready for California race weekend

    The Downieville Classic All Mountain Stage Race will happen this weekend, July 10-11 in Downieville, California. The popular two-day event, featuring a point-to-point cross country and a downhill, is drawing a top field, including some elite racers that might otherwise be expected to attend the US Pro XCT finals, also happening this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Last year's winners, Adam Craig and Katerina Nash, will return to defend their titles.

    Team Giant is sending most of its roster including Craig, Carl Decker, Kelli Emmett, Duncan Riffle and Jared Rando. Ross Schnell, Mark Weir and World Cup downhill winner Greg Minaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) are also on the start list. Fresh off several stage wins and a runner-up overall position at the BC Bike Race, Team Jamis' Jason Sager will make the trip to Downieville, along with teammate Adam Snyder.

    In the women's race, Emmett will be challenged by Nash (Luna), Abigail Hippley and Lizzy English.

    The Downieville Classic cross country race, to be held on Saturday, is one of the last remaining point-to-point bicycle races in the United States. The 29-mile course follows a rugged "Gold Rush" era route that departs the mountain town of Sierra City at 4,100 feet, climbs 3,000 feet to the crest of the Sierra Nevada, and then plunges 5,200 vertical feet into downtown Downieville.

    On Sunday, a downhill stage will take racers 17 miles on the ultimate Super D course down 5,000 vertical feet from Packer Saddle to Downieville. Organizers claim the Downieville Downhill is "the longest and most demanding downhill mountain bike race in the nation." This prestigious race course follows the paths of the Sunrise Trail, Butcher Ranch Trail, Third Divide Trail and First Divide Trail. The downhill race is open only to those also competing in the previous day's cross country.

  • Atherton cracks vertebrae in crash

    Gee, Rachel and Dan Atherton (Commencal Mountain Bike Team)
    Article published:
    July 10, 2010, 14:37 BST
    Cycling News

    Mountain biker immobilised as a precaution

    Dan Atherton is in Shrewsbury hospital after fracturing two vertebrae earlier this week. Atherton had been riding dirt jumps at Llanfyllin, United Kingdom, on Tuesday when he sustained the injury after landing awkwardly on his head in a crash.

    Atherton Racing director Dan Brown revealed details about the accident. “Dan was taken to Shrewsbury hospital in a ambulance where they X-rayed his upper spine,” he said. “The results confirmed a fracture to his C2 vertebrae with a further CT scan confirming another fracture to his C1 vertebrae.

    “On the positive side, Dan has full movement in all his limbs and at present there is no damage to the nerves that pass through the central spinal column,” said Brown. “Dan remains immobilised for precautionary measures while currently awaiting a transfer to the orthopaedic unit in Oswestry, a hospital the Athertons know well and one that is luckily renowned as the best unit in the country.”

    It’s the second major injury to hit the Atherton family – which includes brother Gee and sister Rachel – in as many years. The trio were training in Santa Cruz, California, last year when Rachel separated her shoulder after being struck by a pick-up truck. The incident wiped out Rachel’s season and she underwent two surgeries, including a nerve graft.

    Brown is hopeful that the 2008 four cross World Champion will be back on a bike before 2011. “As long as everything goes to plan with his recovery, we should hopefully see Dan on a bike by the end of the year,” he said.

  • New route for second half of TransAlp

    The field passes near Neuschwanstein Castle
    Article published:
    July 12, 2010, 12:08 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Alpine mountain bike stage race starts this weekend

    For years, the TransAlp has offered teams a chance to race among beautiful Alpine scenery with varying routes. Starting this weekend, 1,100 racers will have that chance again for eight days from July 17-24, although during the second half of the race, the course will travel on trails new to the race.

    The change comes mainly due to the debut of Ponte di Legno, Italy, as a stage town. It's given race director Uli Stanciu a variety of possible new routes from the fifth race day onward.

    "For the first time ever, the TransAlp goes from Livigno across the Passo di Verva and the notorious Mortirolo saddle to Ponte di Legno." This happens during stage five.

    Stage six also will bring some different trails. "The participants can look forward to experiencing 11 kilometres along super trails between Forcellina di Montozzo and Passo Tonale before entering Malé on a technical downhill section."

    In the second last stage racers will pedal for Madonna di Campiglio, the shortest stage of the race, but the field will have to master a tough climb over 1,300 metres of altitude to Rifugio Orso Bruno. The final day's leg to Riva del Garda will provide a steep, hike-a-bike passage to Passo Bregn d'Ors as well as a traditionally challenging Lake Garda trail.

    In contrast, the first half of the race is characterised by several classic stages. On the first stage from Füssen to Imst, mountain bikers will pass the famous Neuschwanstein Castle and have to conquer the Marienbergjoch. On the sole Austrian leg to Ischgl, the Venetalm comes first, then the Idjoch is the main hurdle to clear for everyone on the way to Scuol in Switzerland. The field will be able to celebrate the middle of the race in Livigno after having raced through the Val Mora.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for TransAlp coverage.

    2010 TransAlp
    July 17: Stage 1 - Füssen - Imst, 78km
    July 18: Stage 2 - Imst - Ischgl,...

  • US marathon national championships awarded to Bend

    U.S. Champion Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) riding in third place on the fourth lap.
    Article published:
    July 13, 2010, 15:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Oregon town will host in 2011-2012

    USA Cycling named Bend, Oregon, as the host of the 2011 and 2012 US Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships.

    The annual event, which crowns 24 national champions, has been held in conjunction with the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge, Colorado, for the past four years. Its move to Bend for 2011 and 2012 will mark the seventh and eighth USA Cycling National Championship events held in the cycling-friendly city in a four-year period.

    "We are very excited to further our relationship with Bend," said USA Cycling's National Events Director, Kelli Lusk. "Bend is one of the most popular hotbeds for cycling in North America. Based on our previous experience there, as well as on the community’s outstanding enthusiasm for the sport, we're confident our members will have an exceptional national championship experience."

    The city of Bend has also hosted USA Cycling's 2009 and 2010 Juniors, U23 & Elite Road National Championships and 2009 Cyclo-cross National Championships. In December, it will play host to Cyclo-cross Nationals again. Then the 2011 and 2012 editions of the USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships will also take place there.

    The 2011 and 2012 marathon nationals will start and end in Bend's historic Old Mill District. The race course will provide a combination of technical sections and miles of highly acclaimed singletrack. Competitors will gradually climb for 25+ miles toward Mt. Bachelor before looping around and returning to town on a fast and fun descent.

    "As a community, Bend is honored and excited to host," said president and CEO of Visit Bend, Doug La Placa. "We're looking forward to sharing Bend's world class singletrack with cyclists from around the country and we're committed to hosting an event that will exceed the expectations of everyone involved."

    Crowned less than two weeks ago, Heather Irmiger and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Trek) are the current US marathon national...

  • Defending champion Buchli optimistic about TransAlp

    2009 TransAlp winners Lukas Buchli and Thomas Stoll (BiXS iXS Pro Team)
    Article published:
    July 14, 2010, 7:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    13th edition of mountain bike stage race kicking off this weekend

    On the morning of July 17, the start gun will signal the kick-off of the 13th annual TransAlp in Füssen, Germany. 550 teams of two will hit the 600 kilometres of roads and trails headed for Riva del Garda, Italy. Racers will face more than 19,500 metres of climbing dispersed over eight stages.

    Defending champions, the BiXS iXS Pro Team, will aim to repeat their victory of last year. Switzerland’s Lukas Buchli and Thomas Stoll took over the lead in 2009 after stage five and kept it until the end.

    "For us it's all about racing a good TransAlp. We are optimistic to achieve this goal," said Buchli. The 30-year-old, who will celebrate his 31st birthday on the first stage, added that his team is not feeling as much pressure as last season.

    "In 2009, we entered our first TransAlp with the goal to win. As we accomplished our purpose, the situation is much easier for us this summer."

    However, to be in contention for a back-to-back win, both mountain bikers, who are racing together for their third consecutive year, have been preparing diligently for this year's race. "We pedalled six TransAlp stages within five days from Imst onward during last week. It was tough, but also very important so we will be well matched."  It also means that Buchli and his 27-year-old teammate now know the route well.

    They are well aware of their competition. "We have great respect for Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm. It's impossible to offset their experience," said Buchli. The two German veterans, who were victorious in 2007 and 2008, were defeated last year after Platt had to quit the race due to injury. However, their Team Bull teammates French Champion Thomas Dietsch and Tim Böhme still managed a third place finish in 2009.

    Team Bulls often fields two squads at mountain bike stage races. The advantage is in the numbers. "Having two teams in the competition is a good backup - you won't see a team making it through all...

  • Vastaranta returns to the dirt

    Jukka Vastaranta spent the 2005-2006 seasons on Rabobank's ProTour squad.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2010, 9:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Road pro signs with Trek-Brentjens mountain bike team

    Finnish national champion Jukka Vastaranta has joined the Trek-Brentjens Mountain Bike Team for the remainder of 2010. The 26-year-old, who now resides in Spain, is an accomplished road and mountain bike racer. The former pro road racer is hoping to return to racing at a high level off-road.

    "I started to do mountain bike races in the end of May of this year. I was doing well in Spanish races, so I decided to do some marathons in Europe, and I was really lucky to go to Zillertal where I met Bart Brenjens."

    "Bart knew me already and after leaving him behind on the mountains a few times during the race, he decided that I am strong enough for his team this season."

    Vastaranta won a World Cup in 2001 and finished second in the World Championships in 2002 on the road. He also won a stage in the 2005 Ster Electro Tour and was second in the Tour of Luxembourg that same year.

    As the reigning national cross country and marathon champion, Vastaranta previously won his nation's cross country championship in 2001 and was junior European Champion in 2001.

    Vastaranta started mountain biking when he was nine years old, and he rode his first mountain bike race when he was only 11. Vastaranta raced both mountain bikes and road bikes until he was 17 years old. Then, he devoted his career to road racing, including five years with Rabobank and one year for Jartazi. In 2006 and 2007, Vastaranta had to stop racing due to health problems, and he resumed mountain biking again in 2008.

    "I am happy to be on a strong team again after few years of working and racing at the same time. I feel that I have a good chance now to get back to a high level." As he returns to elite mountain bike racing, the Finnish rider hopes to leverage his road experience as well as his past accomplishments on the dirt.

    "When I became European Champion in 2001 in St Wendel, Jukka also became European champion in the junior category," said Brentjens....

  • US team selected for mountain bike marathon worlds

    Burke Swindlehurst riding himself onto the podium.
    Article published:
    July 14, 2010, 12:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Four racers headed to Germany

    Two men and two women will represent the United States at the mountain bike marathon World Championships in St. Wendel, Germany on August 8, 2010.

    Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) and Burke Swindlehurst (Team Give-Blackbottoms) will compete in the men's race. Bishop is a former US marathon National Champion, and he placed fourth at this year's event at the Firecracker 50 over the Fourth of July. Swindlehurst finished one place behind him, in fifth.

    Krista Park ( qualified automatically for the women's squad with a third place finish at this year's nationals. Discretionary selection Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon) will join her in suiting up for the US after placing eighth at nationals and winning the Baily Hundo Marathon.

    “I first saw that I was officially selected for worlds while sitting on the runway coming back from the Cascade CreamPuff 100 and started hyperventilating and getting choked up in my tiny airplane seat," said Looney after being named to the team for the first time. "Having the opportunity to compete at the Marathon World Championships is my greatest accomplishment in cycling, and it will be another huge step in my development as a younger endurance rider. I feel honored to represent my country, my team, my friends and followers, and my sponsors."

    Both the men and the women will contest a 107km race.

    US Team for Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships

    Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Burke Swindelhurst (Team Give-Blackbottoms)

    Krista Park (
    Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon)