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MTB News & Racing Round-up, May 26, 2010

Date published:
May 28, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Spitz returns to competition in Offenburg

    Sabine Spitz (Central Ghost)
    Article published:
    May 20, 2010, 14:35 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Home World Cup race will give German a chance to test her form

    Olympic Champion and marathon World Champion Sabine Spitz will make her comeback to racing at the UCI mountain bike World Cup this weekend in Offenburg. The German is looking foward to racing in her "home" round of the World Cup.

    Spitz has been out of competition for eight months. During that time she underwent surgeries for a groin injury.

    Her first race back will be an emotionally charged experience. "It is a welcome coincidence that I can venture back into racing at home - especially in Offenburg. I'm looking forward to racing again," she said.

    Spitz and the others will compete on a 5.1km course on Sunday. She is keeping her expectations modest. "It is important that I get some feedback from my body about my condition. Then I can build up for the second half of the season." She'll start near the back of the field, but believes a top-30 finish is possible.

    Spitz will be joined by Central Pro teammates Lisi Osl and Anna Gradl. An injured teammate Mona Eiberweiser will cheer them on from the sideline.

  • Winterberg hosting iXS Dirt Masters Festival

    Daniel Auerswald competing in Winterberg, Germany
    Article published:
    May 21, 2010, 10:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Gwin, Graves, Jonnier among gravity racers competing

    Winterberg will host the iXS Downhill series this weekend. The German venue is drawing hundreds of riders, including some top gravity stars, for the iXS Dirt Masters Festival.

    Four cross racers will get a turn to compete on Saturday in the third round of the Fourcross series. 250 racers from 15 nations are already signed, up including World Champion Jared Graves of Australia and Joost Wichman from the Netherlands. The finals will be run under the lights that night.

    The downhill field includes 600 racers, including American Aaron Gwin, multiple German champion Marcus Klaus Mann, junior world champion Brook MacDonald of New Zealand and Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier.  Downhillers will compete on Sunday.

    Enduro and a slopestyle events are also on the schedule.

    For more information, visit

  • Ill Byberg out of competition for Offenburg World Cup

    Lene Byberg (Specialized) is recovering from a viral infection and will not race the Offenburg World Cup.
    Article published:
    May 21, 2010, 13:55 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Viral infection sidelines Norwegian mountain biker

    Specialized's Lene Byberg will not be at the start line for round three of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup cross country in Offenburg, Germany, on Sunday.

    The Norwegian, who won a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships, has been suffering from a viral infection for a month. After round two of the World Cup in Houffalize, her doctor advised her not to train or compete; hence, her only choice for this weekend is to stay home.

    "I noticed the symptoms of the infection in Dalby racing the first round of the World Cup," said Byberg. "I still had it in Houffalize (at round two of the World Cup), but was positive that I would recover well for the race in Offenburg. But this viral infection has taken all my energy, and I understand that I need to take time for my body to recover 100 percent before starting to compete again.

    "I am back on my bike - just training easy," she said. "The plan is to spend June building up my strength again with good training back here in Sandnes, Norway."

    "My next race will be in Trondheim, Norway, at the end of June, where I will race the Norwegian Championships in the criteium, road race, cross country and marathon."

  • Hill, Kintner among racers returning to US Open of Mountain Biking

    Jill Kintner (Transitions) on her way to winning the Sea Otter dual slalom.
    Article published:
    May 25, 2010, 18:35 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    New Jersey event draws top riders for holiday weekend of racing

    With less than two days to go until the 2010 US Open of Mountain Biking, event organizers are welcoming some of the world's top gravity racers to the Diablo Freeride Park in Vernon, New Jersey. The stage is set for over 500 professional and amateur athletes to participate over the US Memorial Day holiday weekend in the eighth annual event .

    With a total purse exceeding US$55,000 in cash and prizes, racers including Andrew Neethling and Tracy Moseley, fresh off their wins at the US Pro GRT #2 in Plattekill, New York, this past weekend, will make the trek from New York to the US Open in New Jersey.

    Other expected top competitors include Sam Hill, Brendan Fairclough, Kyle Strait, Justin Leov, Jill Kintner, Bryn Atkinson, Mick Hannah, Marc Beaumont, Gee Atherton, Steve Smith and Brian Lopes.

    The action begins on May 25, with practice open all day for both the amateur and open classes in the downhill and giant slalom events. Following more practice and qualifying over the coming days, the giant slalom finals will be run Saturday, May 29, and the downhill finals will happen Sunday, May 30.

    The race is free to specators, who are encouraged to hike the course and watch the high-speed action live in person as racers conquer challenging course sections including the famed US Open rock garden and the massive 40-foot finishline jump. Diablo Freeride Park will be open throughout the event with most of the trail network remaining open for freeriding.

    In 2009, Brendan Fairclough won the the slalom while Sam Hill defeated Gee Atherton in the downhill. Jill Kintner and Miranda Miller won the slalom and downhill women's events, respectively.

  • First round of iXS European Downhill Cup heads to Innerleithen

    Joe Barnes tests out the downhill course for the European iXS Downhill in Innerleithen
    Article published:
    May 26, 2010, 10:23 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    More open, fast, rough course expected

    Innerleithen has been the scene of triumph and the scene of disaster. Over the years, it has also been the scene of dust, mud, and ice as well as an array of tracks. This weekend, May 28-30, it will host the opening round of of the iXS European Downhill Cup series in the Traquair Forest.

    "I found a more direct route down than the usual lines and mostly fresh loose turns," said Joe Barnes, who test rode the course last week.

    "My overall impression is something slightly different to normal Inners' tight tech. This is more open, fast and very rough, down the fall line crossing the natural bumps in the hill side and linked together by existing classic tracks."

    "It might be faster but it's still as loose and fresh as ever making for some interesting racing," he said.

    A talented field is expected for the weekend of gravity racing including Dan Stanbridge and Ben Reid (Dirt Norco); Nathan Rankin, Wym Masters, Shaun O'Connor and Edo Franco (Kenda Playbiker); Sabrinna Jonnier and Cameron Cole (Maxxis - Rocky Mountain); Joe Barnes, Ben Cathro (; Nick Beer, Fabien Pedemanaud, Aari Barrett, Freddi Hunziker, Emile Siegenthaler, Floriane Pugin (Scott 11) and Lars Peyer, Laurie Dinham (Suspension Centre).

    Seeding will happen Saturday, May 29 with finals on Sunday, May 30.

  • A weekend at Armstrong's ranch

    Todd Wells (Specialized) is the men's series leader
    Article published:
    May 26, 2010, 15:33 BST
    Dave McElwaine

    Favorites ready for round three of the US Pro XCT in Texas

    Most of the big names in North American mountain biking will converge on Lance Armstrong's ranch outside of Austin, Texas, this weekend. This will be the third stop of USA Cycling's Pro XCT series.

    Nobody, including the organizers, know for sure if Lance Armstrong himself will make an appearance at the race, but regardless, pro racers will compete in cross country racing on Saturday, on what is supposed to be a challenging course completed with rolling Texas hills. Amateurs will also race on Sunday.

    Heading into this weekend, the series is lead by Todd Wells (Specialized) and his teammate Lene Byberg. While Wells is expected to compete this weekend, the European based Byberg is not. In addition to the travel being excessive, she has been suffering for weeks with a virus that prevented her from competing at the Offenburg World Cup. Nonetheless, the women's race is expected to be a Texas throw-down.

    Luna's Georgia Gould is in a virtual tie with Byberg. She has regained if not also surpassed her 2008 "Olympic year" form and is looking more dominating than ever. This season she has won the Sea Otter Classic, swept all three races at the Chalk Creek Stampede in Colorado and finished second in Offenburg World Cup this past weekend.

    As usual, the inter-squad competition amongst the Luna women is going to be fierce. Canada's Catherine Pendrel won her first World Cup of the season in Offenburg last Sunday. Pendrel was ranked the number one rider in the world during most of the 2009 season and will be one of the favorites at the World Championships at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, in August.

    Katerina Nash, also of the Luna Team, finished near the top of the World Cup podium at Dalby Forest, England. She is almost a sure bet to be on the Mellow Johnny's podium, but will have a big challenge on her hands to stay with her teammates.

    US National Champion Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Gary Fisher) has been struggling with illness since...

  • Scott-Swisspower's Schurter, Vogel among favorites in Plaffeien

    Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower)
    Article published:
    May 26, 2010, 18:12 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Round four of Swiss Racer Bikes Cup set for this weekend

    After the first rounds of the Swiss Racer Bikes Cup were won by foreign racers, chances are good that round four in
    Plaffeien will be won by a Swiss rider. Two Scott-Swisspower riders, World Champion Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel are the favorites for this weekend's cross country race. However, Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud from France will also be racing and may surprise the duo.

    With this tough competition, it will be difficult for Martin Fanger (Giant Swiss Team) to repeat his victory of last year. In 2009, he prevailed ahead of teammates Jérémy Huguenin and Ralph Naef.

    In the women's race, marathon specialist Esther Süss surprised many by winning her first cross country race. The victory motivated her to do more targeted cross country training, and within a year, she has moved into the top level of international cross country racing. She won the round in Solothurn and took third place at the World Cup in Offenburg last weekend.

    Petra Henzi, who dominated the Swiss racing scene for years, is likely to be the strongest opponent of Süss.

    In the junior category, Roger Walder, runner-up at Offenburg is the favorite, but look out also for Jolanda Neff, Linda Indergand in the junior women's race. Last year's Racer Bikes Cup junior champion Matthias Stirnemann, Lukas Loretz and Reto Indergand are the favorites for the amateur & masters races.

    The 5.4km circuit will be a technically challenging one, with a high proportion of singletrack. Hard climbs are rewarded by fun descents.

    The cross country races will happen on Sunday, May 31.