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MTB News & Racing Round-up, July 3, 2009

Date published:
July 03, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Multivan Merida celebrates winning weekend

    Andreas Kugler and Hannes Genze after stage two of the Trans Germany
    Article published:
    June 30, 2009, 17:21 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Dahle Flesjå, Hermida, Käss and Milatz bring home wins

    The Multivan Merida Biking Team enjoyed one of its most successful racing weekends of all time. The team boasted wins at four different races thanks to Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, José Hermida, Jochen Käss and Moritz Milatz.

    Dahle Flesjaa returned to racing at a marathon race named after her in Montebelluna. The event also doubled as the Italian National Marathon Championships. It was the Norwegian's first race after having a baby this spring.

    "When I arrived at the finish, I did not realize I had won right away, as I thought that the strong Italian riders were all ahead of me. I'm still completely surprised as I did not expect such a result," said Dahle Flesjå, whose experience helped her properly pace herself throughout.

    Dahle Flesjå doesn't know yet which races are next. "First I have to see how I recover from this effort, and then I'll continue with my build-up. Within a few days, I should be able to judge which races are a realistic option and make sense."

    At the Wetter German MTB Bundesliga race, Moritz Milatz took another win for the team. He finished ahead of the young Fabian Giger. The two teamed up early in the race to drop all the others, and after a tack on the penultimate lap, Milatz built up a lead of more than a minute on Giger.

    "I did not want to attack right from the start, but instead planned to do so on the penultimate lap," said a confident Milatz of his strategy. "I think I'm on track for the second half of the season. The European and World Championships are his next priorities.

    In Czech, José Hermida and Ralph Näf finished one-two at Nové Mesto na Morave during the latest round of the Czech Cup. From the gun, Hermida took the lead, and along with Näf, the pair shut the door on the chances of any other racers. Näf dropped his chain on the last downhill, so Hermida took the opportunity to ride to a solo victory.

    Finally, the...

  • South African World Cup axed due to UCI sponsor loss

    Cheered on by his home-country fans, South African Burry Stander tackles a tough climb at the first round of the 2009 UCI World Cup
    Article published:
    June 30, 2009, 18:40 BST
    Daniel Simms

    African nation holds hope for hosting future international events

    Despite staging a successful inaugural round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg this past April, South Africa was cut from the 2010 World Cup schedule. The lack of a replacement title sponsor World Cup after 2009 forced the UCI to scale back its 2010 edition of the world's most prestigious mountain bike racing series. That means venues like South Africa, Australia and Canada will lose out.

    "It's come as a big shock for us," said Alec Lenferna, Event Director of the Pietermaritzburg event. "I was phoned by the UCI to tell me that the loss of Nissan as a sponsor after 2009, with no replacement, forced the UCI to downsize the series virtually only to Europe and Great Britain.

    "The United States has been added to the schedule for 2010, but only because the World Championships are in Canada a few days later and the world's top riders and officials will be travelling to North America anyway."

    Lenferna was disappointed at not being given any notice by the UCI of the possibility of the Pietermaritzburg round for 2010 being at risk.

    "It's a huge blow for mountain biking in particular and cycling in general, not only in South Africa, but in Africa," said Lenferna. "This continent has been the missing piece in the World Cup puzzle for almost two decades and after only one chance, it gets unilaterally removed with not even an option for us to find a local sponsor to keep it on the schedule."

    The 2009 World Cup comprises 12 events in 11 countries. There are eight rounds for each of the three disciplines - cross country, downhill and four cross. The 2010 World Cup will be trimmed to nine venues in eight countries. There will only be six rounds for each of the three disciplines since not all venues host all three disciplines.

    Statistics released by the UCI last week indicate that the Pietermaritzburg round of the 2009 World Cup had gained 939 hours, 41 minutes and 31 seconds of global television coverage,...

  • McGrath and Sheppard keep BC Bike Lead despite wrong turn

    Chris Sheppard and Seamus McGrath
    Article published:
    July 01, 2009, 19:10 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Missing course markings may have been sabotage

    Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard (Team Jamis / Santa Cruz) won stage three of the BC Bike Race and kept their overall lead going into stage four. Their race was slightly delayed after race organizers discovered some sabotaged course markings that delayed the start by a few minutes.

    McGrath and Sheppard took it easy early on, but eventually followed attacks by the South African DCM Chrome Team as the race headed toward the summit of Cumberland Gap. They were also battling Team Kona's Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon.

    McGrath and Sheppard were descending in the lead when they came to an unmarked intersection - a fork in the trail with no signage or signs of which direction to take. Course arrows had been removed - perhaps by the same vandals that sabotaged the earlier portion of the course.

    With a 50/50 chance of getting it right, McGrath and Sheppard decided to wait up for the second-place Kona team to arrive. Both teams decided to take a left, which unfortunately, was the wrong way. A few minutes down the trail, they re-evaluated and the group reversed course and returned to the intersection to go the other way.

    They'd lost sufficient time that the two teams were merged back in with other race traffic. Switching from exploration mode to race mode, McGrath and Sheppard kicked it into high gear and edged out Kona by a single second in a sprint finish.

    It was the team's second stage win and ensured they'd stay in yellow for another day.

  • Beaumont will defend British four cross title

    The British will crown the national four cross champions on Sunday, July 5, 2009.
    Article published:
    July 01, 2009, 21:27 BST
    Daniel Simms

    British four cross National Championships happening this weekend

    The British four cross National Championships will take place this weekend on Sunday, July 5 at Redhill Extreme near Gloucester on the outskirts of the Forest of Dean. Nationals comes after the British four cross national series has had its best year in terms of number and quality of riders.

    The Redhill track is purpose-built with multiple lines designed the riders. The Track winds down, losing 300m, from the top of a steep hill into a large table top finish. Improvements to the track have been ongoing all summer.

    Defending men's champion Scott Beaumont is the top elite favorite for the weekend, but Will Evans, Lewis Lacey and Duncan Ferris have been ripping up the World Cups and will be looking for the upset.

    Kieron Mcavoy, Pat Campbell-Jenner and Tom Dowie are also possible podium contenders.

    The elite and senior riders will race together. Therefore, senior men Dale Russell, Chris Cumming, Philip Evans & AJ Boardman are also important to watch.

    In the junior category, last year's youth national champion Tom Knight carried his winning ways with him up into the junior category. Max Lenthall, Pete Warner, Mike Yard, Scott Roberts and Jake Ward all have their eyes on the 2009 junior title.

    On Saturday, the day before the national championship, round five of the National Four Cross Series will take place.

    For more information, visit

  • Fields stacked for US marathon National Championships

    Dave Wiens (Ergon) will be ready to go the distance
    Article published:
    July 01, 2009, 22:29 BST
    Dave McElwaine in Breckenridge, Colorado

    Champions to be crowned at the Firecracker 50

    Over 750 racers will compete in the ninth edition of the Firecracker 50 on July 4th in Breckenridge, Colorado. Among them will be many professionals and amateurs attempting to win 12 national championship marathon jerseys. These will include defending champions Jeremiah Bishop (MonaVie/Cannondale) and adventure racer Sari Anderson (Honey Stinger).

    Racers will ride two laps of a rugged 25-mile course that takes them into the backcountry high above Breckenridge. Starting on Main Street at an elevation of about 9,600 feet, riders will climb above the tree line to nearly 12,000 feet. There is an estimated 5,400 feet of climbing per lap. The rocky course includes switchback climbs, singletrack, and some steep high-speed descents back into town.

    Unlike many of the original Marathon Championships that were run at a distance of 100 kilometers/62 miles, the 50-mile distance of the Firecracker race has opened the door for some of the cross country racers who typically race about two and a half hours. The Firecracker is expected to take less than four hours so it may be a better fit for those racers than the ultra-endurance crowd that is more comfortable with longer efforts.

    This year's Marathon Championships appears to have the deepest field yet, both on the men's and women's side.

    Jeremiah Bishop has been training at altitude ever since the US ProXCT race in Colorado Springs. Most recently he has been riding in the Park City, Utah, where Cannondale was introducing some new products. When asked about the Firecracker,he replied "I pre-rode the course, and it is awesome!"

    Bishop has had one of his most satisfying seasons as a pro. His new team is allowing him to pick and choose races he wants to do. This has resulted in several wins including the Mohican 100 and Dirt, Sweat, 'n' Gears. He will also race in the Breck Epic stage race, which begins the day after the Firecracker 50.

    Bishop is expected to be challenged by a...

  • Gravity East Series race in Windham a "debacle"

    Looking up the four cross course at Windham Mountain, New York
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 19:56 BST
    Sue George

    Mistakes hamper gravity race at future World Cup site

    The Gravity East Series round at Windham, New York, did not live up to expectations of many people last weekend. The downhill and dual slalom races were supposed to showcase the 2010 World Cup gravity courses on June 27-28.

    "'Debacle' is the word that comes to mind," said Ken Getchell of the public relations firm representing the Gravity East Series. "It's scary that Windham is a World Cup venue. Guys will go back to the World Cup circuit and may say negative things."

    The biggest problem was that Windham organizers never officially sanctioned the race - with USA Cycling or the UCI. "They never sent the forms in. None of us knew it at the time," said Getchell. "We had 190 riders show up. Guys came over from Europe."

    Gravity East Series organizer Dan McDonald, also a USA Cycling official, first became aware there was a problem when he noticed two different kinds of rider release forms being used for registration.

    "We were on the phone with the insurance company, who was saying, 'no you can't get insurance for a race already in progress.' The race was run as a USAC race, even though it wasn't really one," said Getchell, who added that USAC has since decided to count the results as a nationals qualifier, nonetheless.

    In addition to the sanctioning mistake, more minor problems added to the weekend's confusion.

    "They had registration all messed up. The person doing the data entry had made a lot of mistakes. Dan started catching the errors because he is familiar with a lot of the riders," said Getchell. "They tried to fix registration before each class, but the changes overwhelmed the scorer, who then started making mistakes."

    "It was a case of cascading errors. People were in the wrong class. People's names were mispelled. At this point, many of the racers don't even know it wasn't a sanctioned race."

    When the pros were awarded on the podium, they received a pint glass as their prize - less...

  • Bishop and Plews lead favorites at inaugural Breck Epic

    Evan Plews will be a man to watch at the Breck Epic
    Article published:
    July 02, 2009, 23:24 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Altitude, dehydration and recovery will challenge racers

    The inaugural Breck Epic mountain bike stage race will kick off on Sunday, July 5 in Breckenridge, Colorado, and despite being a first-year event on a crowded calendar of off road stage races, it has drawn a high quality field of competitors.

    In the men's side, reigning US National Short Track champion Jeremiah Bishop will be the man to beat. Whether or not Bishop will still be the reigning National Marathon Champion at the time the race starts still remains to be seen. He will be competing in the US Marathon National Championships on Saturday, one day prior to the start of the Breck Epic.

    Former top racer Travis Brown and current endurance pros Evan Plews, Harlan Price and Jeff Kerkove will be there to challenge Bishop. Colby Pearce is also expected to attend.

    On the women's side, endurance racer Christina Begy will match up against Jen Gersbach. The latter has been having a sort of breakout season at the Mountain States Cup events. Katie Compton will be on hand, but she will not be competing. Instead, she will be supporting husband Mark Legg as he competes in the men's race.

    Team Dickie's Rich Dillon and veteran Charlie Hayes will duke it out in the singlespeed category.

    Stage four, the circumnavigation of Mt. Guyot, will be the deciding stage," said promoter Mike McCormack. "It's only 45 miles, but they'll be racing at 12,000 feet (elevation) at times and will cross the Continental Divide more than once."

    Another tough stage will be stage 2 on the Colorado Trail. "We're having a hard time finding a place for the aid station because the trail is in an area that's so remote." That stage is 43 miles long, but mostly singletrack.

    McCormack predicts that altitude will only be a factor among the elite racers. "Most people who are coming here are not here to win. It will, however, play a crucial role among the lead guys. However, I think that that dehydration and recovery will be the two biggest...