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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Monday, April 15, 2013

Date published:
April 15, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Injured Näf faces second surgery

    Ralph Naf (Switzerland) wins the first men's eliminator world title
    Article published:
    April 11, 2013, 15:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Eliminator world champion sidelined for longer than expected

    Eliminator world champion Ralph Näf (BMC) has to undergo a second surgery following a crash in early March at a team training camp.

    Näf, 32, already underwent surgery for a broken collarbone and had to sit out the Cape Epic, but since the accident he has been complaining about pain in his wrist. Doctors originally diagnosed only a sprain in the Swiss mountain bike racer's wrist, but after the pain persisted for another two weeks, computer tomography was undertaken in St. Gallen. The result was devastating for Näf: one of his carpal bones is splintered, requiring additional surgery.

    "First of all, I was very upset because I had just started to train again. But I cannot blame anybody. It's very difficult to diagnose this kind of injury correctly," said Näf. "Now I just have to be patient, knowing the team will support me."

    Näf faces surgery on Friday, and it is not yet known when he will be able to return to racing. 

    "I do not know yet how long this compulsory break will last. But I'll do whatever it takes to come back as soon as possible," said Näf.

  • Absalon and Schurter to battle at BMC Cup in Lugano

    Cross country world champ Nino Schurter during stage 4
    Article published:
    April 11, 2013, 17:57 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Süss hopes to defend in women's race

    Mountain bike favorites Julien Absalon (BMC) and Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) will do battle at round 2 of the BMC Racing Cup in the Ticino region of Switzerland this weekend.

    In the men's race, many are expecting an exciting duel between the two giants of mountain biking as both riders prepare for the upcoming World Cup season. Two-time Olympic champion Absalon will encounter reigning world champion Schurter in Lugano/Tesserete.

    With only five weeks to go before this year's World Cup opener in Albstadt, Germany, the race in Lugano is set to be the first serious "rehearsal" for both Absalon and Schurter. Both are considered to be favorites for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup also. Being a 25-time World Cup winner, a four-time World Champion and a two-time Olympic champion, Frenchman Absalon has already celebrated three victories this season.

    Meanwhile, Schurter, who is the most recent overall World Cup winner and the winner of the silver medal at the Olympic Games in London, is fresh off winning round 1 of the BMC Cup last weekend in Schaan.

    Both riders have already been successful on Lugano's six-kilometer race course in the past. Absalon won the race in 2010, and Schurter was the winner in 2011 when Absalon was hampered early in the race due to a technical problem.

    This year, there are some competitors who would like to spoil the giants' tête-à-tête. European Champion Moritz Milatz, who won the race in 2012, and his BMC teammate Lukas Flückiger are poised to intervene. After a disappointing twelth place in Schaan, Flückiger will try to regain lost ground in the BMC Racing Cup. "I'm looking forward to this race and I'll do my best."

    His brother Mathias Flückiger (Stöckli Pro...

  • USA Cycling confirms it won't enforce UCI Rule 1.2.019 in 2013

    Jason Sager (Team Jamis) pulling off a top fifteen ride
    Article published:
    April 11, 2013, 22:03 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American racers may compete in unsanctioned races without punishment

    USA Cycling confirmed to Cyclingnews on Thursday that it will definitely not be enforcing UCI Rule 1.2.019 in 2013.

    Earlier in the day, the UCI had said that it would postpone until 2014 the strict enforcement of rule 1.2.019, which prohibits UCI license holders from competing in unsanctioned races, but there was nothing in the statement prohibiting national federations from choosing to enforce the rule if they chose to do so. As recently as a March 26th letter which went public on April 5th, the UCI had officially asked all of the national federations to enforce rule 1.2.019 and related rules.

    USA Cycling followed up the UCI with a statement thanking the international cycling governing body for listening and for changing its opinion for the time being, but nowhere in the statement did the American federation say for sure that it wouldn't enforce the rules anyway.  Some American mountain bikers continued to wonder whether they were in fact clear to race certain events after all.

    In news that will be welcome to many pro, junior, master and high school racers, some of whom take out UCI licenses and were affected by the proposed strict rule enforcement, USAC answered "Yes" to the following question from Cyclingnews. "Is it a correct interpretation that during 2013, all UCI licensed riders will be able to compete in events like the non-USAC sanctioned Whiskey 50, the Breck Epic, the Transylvania Epic and NICA League races without threat of punishment in the form of a fine or suspension?"

    In his Thursday statement, USAC CEO Steve Johnson had also mentioned that its organization and riders had gained "time for productive dialogue with all stakeholders to find a workable solution for the future."  No further...

  • Tulbagh marathon may bring back Cape Epic memories for some

    Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes of Scott Factory Racing
    Article published:
    April 12, 2013, 16:42 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Bell, Beukes and Keey among the favorites for the weekend

    The MTN Tulbagh marathon, the next round of the South African marathon series on Saturday, April 13, may boil down to a battle between the riders who competed in the Cape Epic and those who have not.

    According to Tim Fair, route director for race promoter Advendurance, the routes for both these races will be very similar to the route that will be used during the Cape Epic. The Epic's course designer in that area, Pieter van Wyk, is also responsible for planning the routes for the MTN Tulbagh races.

    "It is, therefore, to be expected that some overlapping of the routes will occur. Personally I think that the MTN Tulbagh races will be quite a challenge for the riders who do not compete in the Epic, because they will not know what to expect."

    But, on the other hand, not racing the Epic will not necessarily be a drawback. It could actually be a blessing in disguise, because those riders will start the race well-rested. Eight days of racing the Epic drains much energy from any rider and it is debatable whether a rider can recover sufficiently within three weeks to be racing fit and fully competitive again.

    Fair notes that the MTN Tulbagh is one of the tougher challenges of the series. "Riders can expect to do a lot of climbing. However, knowing Pieter, it will be a true mountain biking experience with lots of exciting singletrack sections.

    "Our goal is to take full advantage of the scenic beauty of the Saronsberg valley. Riders will see the route winding its way around cool farm dams, between luscious green vineyards and along rocky mountain tracks that are edged with indigenous fynbos, including proteas." The MTN Tulbagh event will start, as well as finish, at the Saronsberg Wine Estate.

    Matthys Beukes (Scott Racing) is among the favorites for the race. After his success in the Cape Epic, he is confident of getting another good result. "During the Epic,...

  • Lechner aims for record fourth win at Sunshine Race

    Eva Lechner is going for win #4 at the Marlene Sunshine Race
    Article published:
    April 12, 2013, 20:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Top riders head to Italy for 13th annual edition

    Several top mountain bikers are looking forward to the 13th annual Marlene Sudtirol Sunshine Race in Nalles, Italy on Sunday, April 14.

    In the women's event, 2008 Olympic champion Sabine Spitz will race head-to-head with one of the current Sunshine Race victory record holders, Eva Lechner.

    It will be Spitz's first time at the race while Lechner is setting her sights on a fourth Sunshine Race victory. She currently shares the record of three individual Sunshine Race victories with Norwegian Olympic champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa.

    Other top women to watch are Elisabeth Osl, Blaza Klemencic, Nathalie Schneitter and Tanja Zakelj.

    On the men's side, bronze Olympic medalist Marco Aurelio Fontana, two-time Sunshine Race winner Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez and current junior and team relay world champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer are expected on the start line. Olympian Alexander Gehbauer from Austria, Poland's Marke Konwa and Italy's Tony Longo will also be racing. Local resident Alex Medvediev from Russia will add pressure.

    Fontana, who placed fifth overall in the Cape Epic stage race, is aiming to repeat his 2012 victory, whereas Kerschbaumer is going for his first win in Nalles on Sunday.

    The 5km course will be raced seven times by the men and five times by the women for totals of 36.6km and 26.6km, respectively, including the 1.6km start loop. Each lap includes a technical uphill, rock gardens, steep bits and a downhill.

    Italian junior national champion Beltain Schmid is a favorite to win the U23 men's category while Judith Pollinger and Julia Innerhofer will likely excel in the U23 women's race.

    "The Marlene South Tyrol Sunshine Race is one of the best attended mountain bike races in Italy," said Manager Florian Pallweber, who noted that the race will be part of the UEC European Mountain Bike Cup for Juniors and U23 riders for the first time.

    "The inclusion of the race in that calendar is a great...

  • Gallery: Giant Factory Team riders gather in California

    The group shot of attending media and Giant Factory Team Riders
    Article published:
    April 12, 2013, 22:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Seven racers attend team camp ahead of Sea Otter

    The Giant Factory Mountain Bike Team riders met this week for a team camp at Giant Headquarters in Newbury Park, California, on Thursday.

    For 2013, the team includes Josh Carlson, Adam Craig, Carl Decker and Kelli Emmett racing enduro and cross country events. Decker and Emmett will also race marathons. Members of the team also rode with the media on Thursday.

    The downhill squad is led by Danny Hart, who is joined by Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas and Andrew Neethling.

    The team was announced earlier this year.

    Check out the photos from this week's team camp.

  • NICA invites Sea Otter attendees to events

    High school cycling student athletes
    Article published:
    April 13, 2013, 2:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Informational sessions, pro clinics and high school cycling movie on the schedule

    Sea Otter Classic attendees are invited to learn about the positive impacts of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association's (NICA) high school cycling program on both students and their families during the four days of Sea Otter, April 18-21, at Laguna Seca, Monterey, California. NICA will have ambassadors at their booth (#637) to support student athletes as well as discuss the organization and its efforts with the public.

    NICA's executive director Austin McInerny said, "First of all, a big thanks to the Sea Otter Classic for donating our booth space! The Sea Otter Classic was part of the first ever high school mountain bike series, back in 2001, so it has a special place in our history. The Sea Otter is a great venue to educate people about the many programs NICA runs and to hear directly from our coaches and student-athletes."

    "Usually, folks I speak with are surprised when they learn just how organized we are, how developed our leagues are and how successful our student athletes are, both in competition and the classroom. It is not uncommon to hear, 'I wish NICA existed when I was in high school!'"

    Earlier on Saturday morning, April 20, mountain bike legend Marla Streb will run a mountain bike skills clinic as well as later in the afternoon, a top ranked US pro Jeremiah Bishop will lead a pre-ride for NICA student athletes.

    The public is also invited to join student athletes, NICA staff, board members and pro riders associated with the movement, Saturday, from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm at at the NICA Community Lounge (booth #637), next to Team Luna Chix.

    Saturday evening at 7:30 pm, the documentary Singletrack High will play at the Golden State Theater in Monterey. Tickets are available at singletrackseaotter.eventbrite.com and at the NICA Booth. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to both local high school teams and the national movement.

    Or...

  • Canadian Sports Hall of Fame to induct Alison Sydor

    Canada's Alison Sydor practises on the Parnitha mountain bike course, the site for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004
    Article published:
    April 15, 2013, 0:56 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Multi-time world champion and Olympic medallist honored

    Former Canadian cycling national team member Alison Sydor will be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2013 at the Hall of Fame Celebrations ceremony to be held in Toronto on October 16th.

    Sydor, born in Edmonton, Alberta, who now lives in Victoria, British Columbia, represented Canada at three Olympic Games, winning the silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She also became the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal in mountain biking.

    "We congratulate an outstanding athlete who has blazed the trail and inspired a whole new generation of women cyclists. Today, thanks in part to the outstanding work done by Alison Sydor, Canada's Mountain Bike program is known to be a powerful threat at any international competition," said Greg Mathieu, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General of Cycling Canada.

    "The induction into the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame is an extraordinary accomplishment deserving our most sincere recognition. We take this opportunity to congratulate all inductees that have pioneered and promoted Canadian Sports."

    Sydor is a three-time world champion (1994, 1995, 1996) with a total of 11 world championships medals, in both mountain bike and road cycling. Prior to her mountain bike career, Sydor won the bronze medal at the 1991 UCI Road World Championships.

    In other major international events, Sydor won three medals, including two gold medals at Pan-American Games (1995 and 2003) and two medals at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

    Sydor was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, and into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2007. For two consecutive years, 1995 and 1996, Sydor received the Velma Sprinstead Trophy awarded to Canada's top female athlete.

    The announcement was made on Thursday by Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.