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

Date published:
May 14, 2010, 22:23

Edited by Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

  • Aussie world champs line up in World Cup

    Jared Graves (Yeti)
    Article published:
    May 14, 2010, 22:20
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Graves, Buchanan lead the charge in Slovenia

    Australia's three World Champions headline 17 Aussies in action on the dirt in Maribor, Slovenia, this weekend May 15-16, for the third round of the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

    2009 four cross World Champions Jared Graves and Caroline Buchanan, and two-time downhill World Champion Sam Hill are leading the charge, in what will be a major test ahead of the World Championships in Canada later this year.

    Buchanan will have the opportunity to race in the coveted rainbow jersey of World Champion for the first time on the international stage. The 19-year-old arrived in Maribor in ominous form after a sensational domestic series on the mountain bike and encouraging results on the world BMX circuit which sees her currently sitting in second position on the BMX World Cup standings.

    "I can't wait to ride in the UCI Stripes and on my new Commencal bike," said Buchanan. "I'm feeling pretty confident after some great World Cup BMX results, however all of the girls on the World Cup circuit are the best out there and all have a chance at winning the gold."

    "I believe that the training and preparations on my BMX bike have taken my skills to the next level, and I am excited to see where I am at on the mountain bike scene."

    Buchanan returns to Maribor to defend her gold medal and recent small changes to the course should be good for the Canberra local. "Last year the muddy conditions didn't suit me but Jill (Kintner) and Anneke (Beerten) had a crash in the final and I took the win. I have heard that this year there are some changes to the course that I think will suit me."

    Buchanan hasn't competed in a four cross event since taking the national title in Adelaide in January, her hectic mountain bike and BMX commitments a fine balance.

    Along with fellow four cross rider Jared Graves, Buchanan was this week named in the Australian team to contest the UCI World BMX Championships in South Africa in July.

    Although Buchanan is one of Australia's best hopes for a BMX gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, her sights are still firmly set on defending her world four cross title later this year.

    "So far 2010 has been very successful already, no major injuries, winning the Australian four cross national title and having great results on the BMX. I am training harder than ever before with my sights set firmly on 2012 London Olympics.

    "Defending my world title is a major goal of mine this year. I believe that I am stronger than last year I'm feeling more confident than ever."

    Graves (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team) is looking to cement his position on top of the World Cup table in the men's race this weekend.

    The 27-year-old opened his 2010 campaign with a convincing win under lights in Houffalize, Belgium, two weeks ago, picking up where he left off after claiming the World Cup victory last year.

    And the battle in the thrilling men's downhill will be wide open.

    In the downhil, Australia also has high podium hopes including former World Champion Sam Hill, world championships bronze medallist Michael Hannah and 2010 national champion Chris Kovarik, who will all be in the mix for the medals, but the trio will face strong opposition from reigning world champion Steve Peat and silver medallist Greg Minnaar.

    Australia's downhill riders for the World Cup in Maribor, Slovenia
    Sam Hill
    Michael Hannah
    Chris Kovarik
    Mitchell Delfs
    Joshua Button
    Bryn Atkinson
    Will Rischbieth
    Shaun O'Connor
    Rhys Atkinson
    Deon Baker
    James Shepherd
    Daniel Lavis
    Marcus Fairbanks
    Troy Brosnan

    Australia's four cross riders for the World Cup in Maribor, Slovenia
    Jared Graves
    Caroline Buchanan
    Sarsha Huntington

  • Jonnier ready to defend downhill World Cup title for fourth time

    Relaxing at her home in Hyères, France, before the 2010 World Cup season begins, Sabrina Jonnier said her ambition was to win as many World Cups as possible.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2010, 18:15
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    International season begins in Maribor, Slovenia this weekend

    Few have been as dominant in downhill mountain bike racing as French rider Sabrina Jonnier, who will begin her 2010 World Cup campaign at a rain-soaked Maribor course at the weekend. Jonnier, of Hyères, has been on the podium since 2001 - making 2010 her 10th year at the top of the sport's elite women, but despite holding the UCI World Cup title four times, she has never successfully defended her title.

    She is adamant that she has one goal for 2010, "I want to win all the World Cups."

    "Last year was pretty good for me, I won six World Cups out of eight and took the overall. When I am in the gate, I just want to win. The person winning is the one who wants it the most and I am that person," Jonnier said.

    Winter training in France, followed by some summer races in New Zealand and an enduro race in Nepal in March have given Jonnier a solid preparation heading into the race at the weekend and she has also found some time to ride in the wet.

    "I'm a sunny person, but I have been riding the last month in the mud and the wet in America - in the snow in Boulder and then in Switzerland and Italy as well. This year is a more technical race season, and I have kept a similar programme to other years, but with more technical riding such as BMX, downhill and motocross in New Zealand."

    The Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team has changed a little this year with Cameron Cole, of Christchurch, New Zealand, as her only teammate and a new mechanic and new soigneur joining the ranks.

    "I have a good teammate, and I am looking forward to a good season," Jonnier explained.

    "We have different styles of getting prepared for a race and so we do ask questions of each other, but I do ride with other guys, too. It may be different this year with it being only the two of us on the team. I like to ride practice all day and then walk the track with another guy at the end and that way I get to talk with someone else and discuss lines."

    Of the six rounds in the UCI World Cup this season Fort William, Scotland, is the one Jonnier is most looking forward to.

    "It's my kind of track, fast, long and physical. I like every track because it is another possibility to ride my bike. Champery will be the most challenging and also Vale di Sole - they are very special tracks very steep and very technical and I quite like those tracks, too."

    "Every round is going to be challenging. This first one in Maribor will be interesting as nobody has been racing against each other yet."

    Jonnier said there would be a handful of top riders vying for the podium this season and some new faces, too.

    "Tracey [Moseley] is always really strong at the start and through the season; Rachel [Atherton] will definitely be challenging as well, and I have no doubt that she is coming back even faster than 2008; the new World Champion Emmeline Ragot will be there as well and two young French girls are coming up really fast: Floriane Pugin and Myriam Nicole," Jonnier said.

    When asked if the fact it would be her 10th season racing for the podium at this level, Jonnier replied that the records were not a high priority in her mind.

    "I always ride for myself not for the glory - I like to win because it's a good feeling and I hate to lose because then I feel crappy. I ride my bike because I have fun riding it. I never think about the records and I never know how many races I have won."

    Like her teammate, Cameron Cole, Jonnier used psychology to prepare for her racing in her younger days, but now finds stability in yoga.

    "When I was younger - because I messed up when it came to racing because I stressed a lot, I studied psychology. I have been doing a lot of yoga for the last four years, and that has helped me a lot. It helps me to slow down in my head. I usually do a tiny bit of yoga in the morning to stretch before a race and then at the end of the day - I try to do an hour a day. I am learning a lot with yoga and it has definitely improved my racing."

    Once she has the World Cup season out of the way Jonnier plans to reclaim the World Championship title, which will be contested in Quebec, Canada, in September.

    "In the World Cup you have to be consistent all year and the World Championship is one day - last year I got a flat and finished last, but I really like the track at Mont-Sainte-Anne."

  • Willett wins Red Centre Enduro

    Jodie Willett crosses the last river in Stage 7
    Article published:
    May 14, 2010, 15:13
    By:
    Cycling News

    Single mom victorious in stage race as she preps for worlds

    Australian mountain bike team member Jodie Willett won the women's category of the Ingkerreke Commercial Red Centre MTB Enduro, a stage race run this week in Central Australia.

    Brisbane-based Willett from the Flight Centre Merida mountain bike team overcame a strong finish from Canberra's Gracie Elvin while American 24-hour solo World Champion Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) came third overall.

    Willett completed the five-day event held in and around Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges in a total time of 15 hours, 53 minutes and 22.93 seconds with Elvin more than 10 minutes behind after winning the final two stages.

    "It's fantastic for me to achieve the victory after finishing second last year," Willett said. "I think the experience of last year helped me a great deal. It was very tough and I really know why they call this the Enduro."

    Willett's Flight Centre Merida teammate Adrian Jackson and 2008 Enduro winner was in contention in the men's category into the final day but faded to finish fourth overall behind 24 hour solo World Cchampion Jason English of New South Wales.

    The AUS$2500 winner's cheque will go towards Willett's upcoming European campaign, which includes representing Australia at the marathon World Championships in Germany in August.

    Willett, who plans to defend her Enduro title next year, only took up cycling seriously in her late 20s after injuries curtailed her recreational running.

    She combines elite level mountain bike and road racing with owning a sports and remedial massage business Frixshon, studying for a commerce degree and raising her eight-year-old daughter Helica.

    The single mother from Bardon in Brisbane's west, who has worked in her business with the Brisbane Lions and Queensland Reds, represented Australia at last September's cross country World Championships in Canberra.

    She also won the women's race at the 2009 Flight Centre Cycle Epic in South-East Queensland.

  • Kenda Cup qualifier goes to the Pacific Northwest

    Barry Wicks airs it out at the Spring Thaw mountain bike race.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2010, 13:00
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    19th annual Spring Thaw promises cross country and downhill action

    The next Kenda Cup Qualifier race will take place this weekend in Ashland, Oregon on May 15-16. The 19th annual Spring Thaw mountain bike festival gets underway for a weekend of great racing and is Oregon's largest mountain bike event, offering over US$10,000 in cash and prizes.

    The town of Ashland, Oregon, is a cycling hub in the Pacific Northwest and offers riders some of the best singletrack around. This is due in part to Southern Oregon Mountain Bike Association (SOMBA) who is responsible for developing and maintaining an extensive trail network for mountain bike riders to enjoy.

    Saturday will begin with a cross country race starting at 9:15 am. Racers will start at Lithia Park on the pavement and immediately begin to climb as they head to Horn Gap Trail. Cat. 3 racers will enjoy a shorter nine-mile course, while the Pro / Cat. 1 / Cat. 2 classes will enjoy the traditional 26-mile epic loop, laced with miles and miles of killer singletrack, twisty decents and breathtaking views as riders ascend to an elevation of about 5000 feet.

    Saturday after the cross country race, riders can enjoy the Spring Thaw post-race party held at Standing Stone Brewery in downtown Ashland. Handcrafted Micro Brews and good food will be on tap.

    On Sunday, the gravity riders get there shot at the Spring Thaw starting at 11:00 am. The downhillers will face a two-mile downhill course that take place entirely on the Catwalk trail, which offers technical, off camber switchbacks, a couple of wide open straight aways and a little bit of everything.

    US Cup marketing Director, Ty Kady is excited about the US Cup coming to the Spring Thaw. "I checked this place out with some locals last year, and I had a blast riding the trails. With the help of race director Amy Warner, we made working with the Spring Thaw folks a must-do event for 2010. I think anyone who travels to this race for the first time will be stoked with the riding experience."

    Spring Thaw organizer Amy Warner echoed Kady's sentiments. "The Spring Thaw has been an annual event for 19 years now, and we hope by incorporating the race into the network of Kenda Cup Qualifiers, we can share the event with more racers nationwide."

    For more information on the Spring Thaw, visit www.somba.org/springthaw/home.html. For more information on the Kenda Cup qualifying, visit www.uscup.net/up/file/pdf/2010KendaCupguidelines.pdf.

  • Racers warm up for Offenburg World Cup in Heubach

    Paul van der Ploeg has recovered from his shoulder injury and will return to racing at at the German National Series round two in Heubach.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2010, 11:00
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    German national series round two HC-category race draws top talent

    After a two-week break, the German National Mountain Bike Series, also known as the Bundesliga, continues in Heubach this weekend, May 15-16. The HC-category race is again drawing an elite field as many prepare for next week's World Cup in Offenburg, Germany. Racers are expected to face wet conditions this weekend, just as they did recently at the Houffalize, Belgium, round of the World Cup.

    Several international stars have registered in both the women's and men's races.

    The top three podium finishers from Houffalize - Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida), Manuel Fumic (Cannondale) and Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak Ergon)- have announced their intentions to race at Heubach. Two-time Olympic Champion Julien Absalon (Orbea), Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida) and the Flückiger brothers (Trek World Racing) will also fight for victory.

    Austrian Karl Markt (Felt Oetztal X-Bionic Team), who was not satisfied with his World Cup results England and Belgium, wants to follow up on his strong performance from the German National race opener in Münsingen (10th place). "In Dalby Forest and in Houffalize, I was not as strong as I expected to be," said Markt. "Nevertheless, I'm in good shape and will give it my all in Heubach."

    World Champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon), Lene Byberg (Specialized), the New Zealander Rosara Joseph and Emily Batty (Trek World Racing) are some of the favorite women expected in Heubach. After her second place in Münsingen and her furious comeback in Houffalize, Slovenian Blaza Klemencic (Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup Team) is a candidate for the victory in Heubach. Her teammate Sabrina Enaux, who finished as third at the second round of the French Cup last weekend, wants to confirm her strong performance of the first two World Cups of the season.

    One racer making a comeback will be Under 23 Paul van der Ploeg (Felt Ötztal X-Bionic Worldcup Team), who has recovered from his shoulder injury. He dislocated his shoulder in Houffalize.

  • No Offenburg for Lindgren

    Emil Lindgren of Giant during stage three
    Article published:
    May 14, 2010, 09:00
    By:
    Marcel Slagman/Wieler Magazine

    Swede to miss the next World Cup cross country race

    Almost two weeks after his crash at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium, Emil Lindgren (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) was disappointed to learn that his recovery will take longer than expected.

    "A week after Houffalize, my hand hadn't recovered well enough, so I decided to have a second x-ray," said Lindgren. "After about a day at the hospital, I left with my right hand in a cast."

    "I have a crack along the bone that goes from the wrist up to the little finger. The doctors gave me a prognosis that says I must go three weeks without putting any pressure at the hand, which means no outdoor biking."

    In the meantime, the Swedish pro is trying to keep in shape by going to the gym, running and doing some indoor cycling.

    "I hope for a good recovery and to comeback in the beginning of jUne. It's a shame that I couldn't build on my good starting position from Dalby Forest (World Cup), and I will find myself way back at the start in (the) Champéry (World Cup)."

  • Junior racer Reid crams his weekend's racing in between maths exams

    James Reid (Specialized / Mr. Price) in action in South Africa
    Article published:
    May 14, 2010, 07:00
    By:
    Cycling News

    Neethling the favorite for South African cross country round

    James Reid (Specialized/Mr Price) will have to do some quick mathematical calculations from Friday to Sunday if he wants to stay unbeaten in the MTN National cross country series for juniors which will take place over the coming weekend in George.

    If he wins on Saturday, Reid will have proven that he is a true champion, because by Sunday afternoon he will have learned the true meaning of the word "hectic".

    Reid, who is a matriculant in Pietermaritzburg, is in the midst of exams and he will write his first maths paper on Friday morning. Virtually the moment he puts down his pen, he will have to rush off to the airport to fly to George. He may or may not have time to pre-ride the course before Saturday's race.

    Being in a private school, Reid was scheduled to write his second maths paper on Saturday morning, but he managed to make arrangements to postpone it to Sunday morning. This means that, immediately after the race, he will have to rush off to the airport again.

    The ever optimistic Reid admits that his circumstances are not ideal for either writing exams or racing, but he feels up to the challenge.

    "In a way I am glad that things are happening the way they are, because if I do get selected to represent South Africa at the World Championship later this year, it will also be a juggling act between my studies and racing. So this weekend will be a good trial run to see whether I can cope."

    Reid, who won the first national cross country event in Alberton as well as the Cascades in Pietermaritzburg, admits that he is worried about Saturday's race.

    "I don't want to advertise it, but George is the one race in which I can be beaten. I do not have fond memories of racing there. Last year I had a terrible race in which I crashed. If the course is the same as last year, it will definitely not suit my riding style. It is too bumpy and flat."

    Reid tips his training partner, Luke Robberts, as the rider to watch. Both of them are coached by Johan Wykerd.

    "I can honestly say that Luke and I have the best coach. Johan is just so passionate about what he does. For example, there is no other coach who will be waiting for you at the finish at every national event, to listen to your account of the race. Luke is in awesome form at the moment. His finesse when it comes to riding single track certainly counts in his favour.

    "Travis Walker can also be a factor to reckon with. Everything will depend on how he starts his race. Sometimes he starts off too slowly and then ends up having to play catch up during most of the race.

    "I think my teammate, Arno du Toit, can also be a factor. He proved during the Karkloof qualifying round for the shootout, that he is one of the fastest starters. His qualifying lap time was faster than Burry Stander's. That took some doing.

    "It will help me on Saturday if Arno can again have a good start and manage to get out in front to control the racing. If that happens, it will give me time to settle down and then work my way up towards the front."

    As far as Saturday's junior women's race is concerned, it will be a huge surprise if Candice Neethling (DCM) does not win.

    However, Neethling has been through a tough time during the past few weeks, having fallen twice on her right knee. The second time she had to go to hospital and was anaesthetized to allow the doctor to clean the wound.

    Neethling is slightly embarrassed about her second crash. It happened during Sunday's Karkloof half-marathon in Pietermaritzburg.

    "It was so silly. The whole course was technical with lots of rocks and other stuff around which you had to negotiate your way. I was doing fine until we came to an open gravel road. I saw a tree along the road, but I thought I would be able to pass it easily. I was wrong. I got trapped by one of the really stiff branches and went down hard on my already injured knee. It was very painful."

    Neethling is confident that her knee will not be too much of a problem during Saturday's race.

    There is no chance anyway that she will miss the racing at George, because the cross country races are the only opportunities for her to race with the pro-elite women and really test herself against them.