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MTB News & Racing Round-up, March 30, 2010

Date published:
March 30, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Whole Athlete junior development team targets Fontana Pro XCT

    Zach Valdez is the newest signing for the Whole Athlete Junior Development team.
    Article published:
    March 25, 2010, 20:30 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team's newest signing Valdez ready for debut with the team

    The Marin County-based Whole Athlete Cycling Team is traveling to Southern California this weekend to build upon its successes at the Triple Crown opener in Bonelli Park a few weeks ago. There, the team took second through sixth in the junior category-one division.

    In a variation on the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" theme, the winner of Bonelli park, Zach Valdez, has since joined the Whole Athlete team and is looking forward to his first race as a member of the squad.

    The team is on something of a roll in recent weeks with Will Curtis having taken his second consecutive Varsity win in the NorCal High School MTB League while Whole Athlete juniors took six of the top-10 Varsity boys spots. Not to be outdone, on the female side of the squad, Victoria Yoham and Sofia Hamilton took second and fifth in the girls Varsity, and Kate Courtney won the Junior Varsity categories.

    Fontana will mark the return to the dirt of Under 23 pro rider John Bennett, who has been focusing on competing as a category 2 road racer. He recently won his overall classification at the San Dimas Stage Race after winning the time trial and finishing second in the circuit race.

    In just its third season, the Whole Athlete junior develpment program continues to be supported by the non-profit Velo Development Foundation, and is building momentum while staying true to its core principles of fun, integrity, and a balanced integration of sports into the busy lifestyles of modern teens.

    Eighteen young athletes and three mentors will make the trip south in rented passenger vans, and the team is particularly excited to put their new Specialized Epics to the race test.

    "It's a lot of fun and highly motivating to work with such a dedicated group of young riders," said team founder and director Dario Fredrick, who is also a current Masters national mountain bike champion.

    The team plans on repeating its trip to mountain bike nationals in Granby,...

  • Williamson’s death attributed to undiagnosed heart condition

    James Williamson looks happy to have finished for the day.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2010, 1:34 BST
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    Partner Fisher reveals autopsy details

    An undiagnosed heart condition was the cause of James Williamson’s death while sleeping at the Cape Epic mountain bike race last week, according to Williamson’s partner Niki Fisher. Fisher travelled to South Africa with Williamson’s family last Wednesday, where she spoke with the race doctor after an autopsy was performed on the 26-year-old.

    “It appears Jimi had a ‘heart condition’ - where the second chamber of the heart did not push the blood out properly - so to compensate, Jimi's ventricle grew larger,” said Fisher. “This was a genetic condition. It had nothing to do with his riding.”

    Williamson’s participation in the grueling 722 kilometre mountain bike stage race wasn’t necessarily a factor in the failure of his heart, according to Fisher. As an endurance mountain biker and the 2008 Solo 24 Hour World Champion, Williamson was no stranger to competing at challenging races like Cape Epic.

    “It could have happened to him as he was sitting at the computer, or just lying in bed,” she said. “The doctor thinks if anything that Jimi's fitness was positive and unlikely to have contributed or encouraged the problem.”

    Doctors told Fisher that it was possible even had Williamson had his heart tested in recent years that the condition might not have been revealed. She recalled the doctor’s hypothesis on the events that caused Williamson’s heart to fail.

    “The doctor explained in detail what he thinks might have happened during the night. Jimi was lying comfortably on his stomach, and his heart beating would not have done what it was meant to do which is what killed him. He would not have known this and would have died peacefully in his sleep.”

    The post mortem found no blockages and Williamson’s potassium levels, which could indicate electrical problems with the heart, were normal. “Nothing wrong in...

  • Willoughby waltzes through while Reade returns

    Shanaze Reade is back
    Article published:
    March 29, 2010, 7:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    British rider comes back at Madrid Supercross to take silver

    Australian rider Sam Willoughby took the latest round of the BMX World Cup with victory in the Madrid Supercross as dual track world champion Shanaze Reade returned to competition with silver in the women's race.

    The defending men's World Cup champion led from the first turn and held on throughout the race for another career win, beating American rider Conner Fields and Dutchman Yvo van der Putten, with Olympic champion Maris Strombergs (Latvia) in fourth.

    "A BMX race is so short - anything can happen. I do not plan a race, I go step by step. First a good gate, then the first turn and so on," explained Willoughby afterwards.

    "I really benefit from racing a lot. That is a big bonus. Having experience on the track to react to situations; 70 percent of winning is mental. The best races are the ones I don't really remember - you are so focused then," he added.

    "When you stand at the gate of a final I tell myself: 'I did everything right. Worked hard, trained hard, I have done all I can'. That gives me confidence," said runner up, Fields. "It was a very hard race. I was close to Sam in the last turn - there was little space. But I didn't want to risk crashing us both."

    Meanwhile, van der Putten was stuck between a rock and hard place from the start. "I was between Maris Stromberg and Sam Willoughby on the gate. They got a bit ahead of me," said the Dutchman. "I thought, 'I better drop back otherwise I could get in the mix'. From then on I could follow my own line. I am happy with this result so early in the World Cup season."

    Shanaze impresses with silver

    The event also saw the return of Shanaze Reade, the British rider coming back from serious injuries sustained last year. Coincidentally, had the 21-year-old chosen, she could have been in contention to compete at the UCI Track World Championships held in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the same weekend.

    She's a dual women's team sprint...

  • Norgaard sisters celebrate Cape Epic win

    Anna-Sofie and Kristine Norgaard compete in the time trial stage five of the Cape Epic.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 13:15 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Danish duo collects five stage wins en route to overall victory

    Two sisters, Anna-Sofie and Kristine Norgaard, rode to an overall win in the Cape Epic stage race in South Africa. The Danish women, who both rode for the Rothaus-Cube team, won five of the eight stages of the 772km long mountain bike race, finishing ahead of runners-up Ivonne Kraft of Germany and Hannele Steyn-Kotze of South Africa.

    Anna-Sofie and Kristine seemed to get stronger each day, despite the high temperatures that took a toll on many of the competitors. In the first two stages, the duo finished second. Their first stage victory came on the third day. On the fourth day, they took over the race leadership, which they would not relinquish for the duration of the event.

    It wasn't until the final stage that they decided they could afford to slow down. That opened the door for Kraft and Steyn-Kotze to win what was their third stage win, but the Norgaards still won the overall with a 30-minute margin.

    "It is great to win here. On the final day, we were a little more careful not to risk anything. Ivonne and Hannele went for the stage victory and they deserved to win it," said Anna-Sofie Norgaard. "It was super to conclude this race as number one."

    Over eight days, the sisters raced 37 hours, 31 minutes and 3 seconds together.

    Anna-Sofie and Kristine had planned to celebrate the ninth stage of the Cape Epic, the party after the race, before travelling back home.

    "I have enjoyed the time here, but I am happy to see my family and my son again soon," said Anna-Sofie Norgaard, who had a baby last season.

    "My son's called Karlo and is named after one of our favourite riders Karl Platt," Anna-Sofie said after stage three. "Karl always manages to have fun, so we think Karlo is going to be strong and also have fun." Platt won men's category at the Cape Epic along with his Team Bulls partner, Stefan Sahm.

  • TransAlp registration sold out

    Multivan Merida Biking Team's Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler won the 2009 TransAlp.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 15:15 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Riders from 33 countries expected for mountain bike stage race

    Organizers of the 13th edition of the TransAlp mountain bike stage race from July 17-24 announced that it is sold out. 550 teams of two from 33 countries will compete over 600km from Fuessen, Germany, to Riva del Garda, Italy.

    The race will feature 250 men's, 165 masters', 30 senior masters', 60 mixed and 20 women's teams. Germany is fielding the most participants, with 400 riders registered. Austria is sending 100, and Swizterland 70. 13 Australians, one New Zealander and one Thailander will travel the furthest to the start line while just six Americans and four Costa Ricans have signed up.

    "We are addicted to adventures and simply live our dream. And for a mountain biker this means you have to compete in the TransAlp as this one is one of the hardest races in the world," said Markley Anderson of the American team Crank as he explained why many come from so far away.

    "The TransAlp is something special," said Craft Rocky Mountain's Pia Sundstedt of Finland. "The scenery is beautiful and thus sometimes helpful to forget the stresses and pains. It's just great to roll into the finish and feel the enthusiasm of the spectators. Also the passion of the hobby riders is amazing." Sundstedt has previously won the race with Alison Sydor.

    Although the race is sold out, organizers have indicated that they will auction a few extra entries in the coming months.

    In 2009, Multivan Merida Biking Team's Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler won the men's race while Rothaus-Cube's Milena Landtwing and Kristin Noorgard won the women's race.

    For more information on the race, visit www.bike-transalp.de.

  • Wells, Byberg ride to victory in US Pro XCT opener

    Lene Byberg (Specialized) racing one of the few short tracks she will do this year.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 17:14 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Specialized riders lead cross country series standings after one round

    The 2010 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT) kicked off on Saturday with the US Cup in Fontana, California. With high winds and sand storms, the first of the Pro XCT's five UCI-inscripted events was heated as the world's top mountain bikers competed for valuable UCI points. With the first of five Pro XCT events complete, Todd Wells and Lene Byberg, both of Team Specialized, have taken the early leads.

    Wells won the elite men's race ahead of Canadians Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Max Plaxton (Sho-Air / Specialized). Australian Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air / Specialized) was fourth while USA Cycling Development Program alum Sam Schultz (Subaru-Gary Fisher) rounded out the top five.

    On the women's side of competition, Norwegian Byberg won her first big American race ahead of proven endurance racer Pua Sawicki (OkoleStuff.com), who has switched her focus from endurance to cross country events this season in hopes of representing the US at the World Championships in Quebec in August. Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) took third while Kelli Emmett (Giant) was fourth, and Allison Mann (Rock N Road) made her first national-level podium, taking fifth.

    Standings are below. See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the weekend's cross country, super d and short track racing in Fontana.

    ...
  • Britain's Last looking forward to first full-time season of racing

    Annie Last (Great Britain) at the World Championships under 23 cross country race.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 20:46 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Under 23 mountain biker prepares for Dalby World Cup

    Great Britain's Annie Last is looking forward to her first year of racing full time on the international mountain bike circuit. The 19-year-old finished school last June and has already shown how more dedicated training time can pay off. She won the opening round of the British Cross Country Series in Sherwood Pines this weekend against an international field.

    "It was my first mountain bike race of the season, so I went into it to see how I'd feel and what my racing legs were like," said Last to Cyclingnews. "I felt quite strong during the race, and I enjoyed racing again."

    "From the start, I was riding with Rosara (Joseph), Kate (Potter) and Lily (Matthews). On the start of the third lap, I got a bit of a gap, but Rosara came back onto my wheel. We rode together with Kate chasing. On the last lap, I dropped Rosara and was on my own for the rest of the race."

    Last, who races for 100%ME, is spending a week training at the Dalby World Cup course with other young British hopefuls. Dalby will host the opening round of the cross country World Cup on April 25.

    "I arrived at Dalby last night. This week is about getting on the course and getting to know it."

    Last spent Tuesday talking to the media, but she was excited about getting out to ride the rest of the week. "I raced Dalby last year for the national series, and I think the course is pretty similar to what it was then, though I think it has had some modifications. I enjoyed the race last year and liked the course. There are some new sections that have been added that I haven't seen yet."

    "I think it'll be good to race in Dalby again. I did the worlds at Fort William (in 2007). You get so much more support racing at home. British fans get behind you and come out and they enjoy watching the race."

    Despite being preoccupied with school until June of 2009, Last had a successful season. She finished fourth in the European Championships, was the...

  • Santísimo Downhill delivers an Easter treat

    Filip Polc on his winning run at the Red Bull Challenge No Morro.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 20:50 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Cusco the centre of extreme mountain biking this weekend

    This weekend the Peruvian town of Cusco will host the second Santísimo [Holy] Downhill, with Slovakian rider Filip Polc the star attraction at an event expected to include 200 riders.

    The event starts at 11am on April 3, on a route that captures the stunning scenery of the Urubamba province; it's another chapter in the growing popularity of urban downhill events in South American nations.

    Polc is making a habit of winning these types of events, having won the Red Bull Contrapedal in Valparaiso, Chile, this February after taking out another the previous month in Manizales, Colombia.

    The 27-year-old also won the Red Bull Challenge No Morro, held in the middle of the Favela de Santa Marta, one of Rio de Janeiro's largest favelas (pictured below).

    The men's field will feature riders from Bolivia and Canada, plus Peruvian national champion Santiago Ortiz de Zevallos, talented junior Christian Escobar and Yannick Wende.

    The Red Bull Challenge No Morro in Rio is one of the original urban downhill races.

  • Men's US Pro XCT Standings after one round
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Todd Wells (USA) Specialized 120  pts