A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Top-ranked young riders choose their category for 2012
The UCI released the list of top ranked riders in the men's and women's under 23 categories and specified which riders will compete with the elite racers in the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Since the UCI separated the elite and U23 categories, it has allowed the top-ranked 10 men and five women in the U23 category to decide whether they will race with their fellow U23s throughout the World Cup or move up early into the elite category. Either way, all U23 riders still have to race in their category at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. Racers make the decision prior to the first World Cup and then must stick to it all season until Worlds.
Among the U23 men, only two racers elected to compete with the elites at the World Cups: Henk Jaap Moorlag of the Netherlands and Marek Konwa of Poland. Top ranked Gerhard Kerschbaumer of Italy decided to stay among the U23s.
A majority of the eligible U23 women have decided to race up, including top ranked Annie Last of Great Britain, Anne Terpstra of The Netherlands and Pauline Ferrand Prevot of France.
A complete list of U23 riders eligible to race with the elites is below. Their UCI ranking and points are listed as of December 31, 2011.
The U23 racers will compete in the first 2012 MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on March 16-18.
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Top-ranked juniors are favorites for New Zealand event
Top-ranked international-level riders Anton Cooper and Jolanda Neff are among 1000 starters lining up for this year's Merida Karapoti Classic on March 3-4.
In 2011, Christchurch's Cooper created a slice of Kiwi mountain bike history when at age 16 he became the youngest winner of New Zealand's oldest mountain bike event, the Karapoti Classic. Cooper, who recently signed for Trek World Racing, returns to Wellington for the challenging 50km race in 2012, but so too does a Swiss rider who has been even more dominant than the Kiwi.
Following the 2011 Karapoti Classic, the Christchurch school boy took the mountain bike world by storm, winning rounds of the prestigious World Cup Series in Italy and the Czech Republic and placing second in the world championships to finish the season as the number one ranked junior mountain biker in the world.
As dominant as Cooper was, however, his female contemporary, Switzerland's Jolanda Neff, was even more so, winning her Swiss championship, the European championship and three rounds of the World Cup circuit. Illness at the world championship meant she finished fourth, but like Cooper she ended the season ranked number one among juniors worldwide.
Cooper and Neff are the favourites to win overall honours when they line up for the slog around Upper Hutt's rugged Akatarawa Ranges.
Neff is currently in Christchurch training through the New Zealand summer. She will tackle Karapoti for the first time, following in the footsteps of compatriot Nathalie Schneitter, who won the world junior title in 2004 and the Karapoti Classic in 2006.
However, only New Zealand's Cooper and Australian Lisa Mathison, who was also a world junior champion, have won Karapoti...
Juarez, Wallace and Poidevin set for Canmore visit this weekend
Many of the world's top elite male 24-hour racers are expected to battle for the 24-Hour Solo Mountain Bike World Championship title on September 14-16, 2012, when it returns to Canmore, Canada.
Australia's Jason English (Merida Bikes) will be back to defend his title. He is also the current 24-hour solo Australian champion.
Past 24-hour solo world champion Tinker Juarez (Cannondale Bikes) of the USA is also attending. He is a former 24-hour solo US champion.
Current Canadian 24-hour solo champion Cory Wallace (Kona Bikes) was the runner-up in 2010 while Matt Page (Rocky Mountain Bikes) will be there for the UK as the current 24-hour solo UK champion. He's previously finished in the top 10.
Others on the start line will include current 24-hour solo US Champion Josh Tostado (Trek Bikes), current 24-hour solo Czech champion Tomas Kozak (Focus Bikes) and Leighton Poidevin (Santa Cruz Bikes) of Canada. Poidevin has plenty of experience, including a previous fourth, seventh and eighth places at the 24-hour Solo Worlds.
Finally, a previous runner-up at the 24-hour solo Worlds and the 24-hour solo US Nationals Kelly Magelky (Trek Bikes) will be there from the US.
Athletes from 13 countries are already registered.
During the weekend of February 10-12, three of the favorites - Juarez, Wallace and Poidevin - will travel to Canmore. They will participate in a "Community Dinner" on Friday evening, followed by a day of "Train with Tinker, Cory & Leighton" on Saturday morning. Later that day, Juarez will race Wallace in a "Dog Sled" race and then join in a meet and greet over beers (open to everyone) from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. ...
Jongewaard returns to action while King tops list of women's favorites
After debuting in Perth and then surviving the heat in Mt Buller, the Real Insurance All Mountain Cup moves to Mt Stromlo this weekend, February 10-12, for round 3. The All Mountain Cup format, new for 2011-2012, encourages racers to compete in three different cross country formats over three days. Riders collect points from each race which go toward the overall general classification.
Friday afternoon will feature super D racing, a format that challenges the skills of riders with what is essentially a fast, long downhill course. With super D racing booming overseas, riders have been excited that the local season has followed the world trend.
None may be happier about the presence of super D in the series than Joshua Carlson, who has won the elite men's super D in both rounds so far this season. Super D is racing is a focus for Carlson in 2012, and he has plans to spend significant time in the US racing the biggest races.
In the women's field, overall season general classification leader Jenni King has been in white-hot form, winning both rounds, while 2011 national cross country Champion Katherine O'Shea was a close second in Mt Buller.
Olympic cross country
With the London 2012 Olympic Games looming, racing on Saturday is arguably even more important than usual, with riders racing lap-based racing in the traditional cross country Olympic format.
While ultimately selection criteria is based on international performances, national-level performances are still important for riders to raise their profile and measure their form and preparation leading up to the international events.
"It's an Olympic year, and that brings into focus the...
English and James among challengers expected at Australian MTB stage race
The Mountains to the Beach mountain bike stage race will kick off in less than one month in Australia. The race will run from March 5-9, 2012.
Queensland's Andy Fellows will return defend his title in 2012, while 2011 second place finisher Garry James will also be back and hot on his wheels to take this year's win. But both will be looking over their shoulder knowing the near 100-strong peloton also consists of 24-Hour Solo World Champion and 2010 winner Jason English and former Highland Fling champion Shaun Lewis.
Over five days, riders will cover 400km from the roof of Australia to the surf beaches of the South Coast. The route entices both Australia's elite mountain bikers, as well as a field of everyday athletes keen to take in some of New South Wales' most stunning scenery, whilst pushing their physical and mental endurance.
For the first time, the 2012 line-up includes a tandem mountain bike, with partially sighted rider John Domandl bringing his custom steed, piloted by race doctor Rob Watson.
Riders will be transported by chairlift to the start line on the slopes of Mt Kosciuszko at Thredbo and over six timed race stages and five untimed cruise stages will cover all types of terrain. From challenging downhills in the rugged Alpine country; through lush rainforests, across rivers, creeks and sandbars, racers will eventually finish with a ride along the Australian coastline.
"The route is looking cool and green after the damp conditions of recent month, but snorkels are optional," said event organizer Huw Kingston.
Six stops planned from April to August
USA Cycling announced on Thursday the 2012 USA Cycling Professional Mountain Bike Gravity Tour (US Pro GRT) for 2012. In its fourth year, the series has expanded to six races and aims to provide a consistent stage of international-caliber events for elite gravity racers to showcase their downhill skills.
The nation's top gravity racers will be looking to dethrone 2011 champions Cody Warren (DRD X-Fusion Intense) and Jill Kintner (Transition Racing) as the downhill-only series visits five states from April to August.
The calendar will begin with a visit to Port Angeles, Washington, for the fourth consecutive year as the NW Cup will once again kick things off, this year on April 26-29. The Mountain Creek Bike Park will play host to the calendar's newest event, the Eastern States Cup in Mountain Creek, New Jersey, on May 20. The series will then head just up the road to Roxbury, New York, for Plattekill Mountain's stop on the Eastern States Cup on May 27.
Things again heat up out west on June 9-10, when the Mountain States Cup - Chile Challenge offers riders a preview of the 2013-2014 USA Cycling Gravity National Championships venue in Angel Fire, New Mexico. The nation's top gravity riders will head back to New York the following weekend for the US Pro GRT’s fifth stop, the Whiteface Pro GRT 5K Downhill in Wilmington, New York. The only UCI category 2 event on this year's Pro GRT schedule, the Northstar Pro GRT will wrap things up in Truckee, California on August 3-5.
Each of the six stops will offer series ranking points to top finishers, resulting in overall individual titles for professional men and women. The racers with the most points throughout the six-race series will be recognized as the best gravity athletes competing on American soil.
The highest ranked Americans in the US Pro GRT overall rankings (provided he/she...
French team enjoys winter training to build fitness
The BH Suntour Peisey-Vallandry team of 2011 cross country World Cup winner Julie Bresset held a winter training camp from January 14 to 21 at the CGH L'orée des Cimes résidence in Peisey-Vallandry, France. Racers enjoyed some quality time spent together doing off-the-bike kinds of activities to prepare for the 2012 mountain bike race season.
"It was good timing to break from long road training, but we continued to improve cardio-vascular and muscular functions with cross training in a great environment," said the team's Deputy Manager Pierre Lebreton to Cyclingnews. "Each year, when the riders return back home, they feel like they were on holiday although they trained a lot."
The team enjoyed a stay in the mountain village, a good place for training in both the winter and summer. Activities included skiing, snowshoing and training in the onsite fitness room followed by recovery in the spa. In warmer weather, the team sometimes enjoys summer training at the same location given the wide range of trails and beautiful, nearby French road climbs (like the Col de l'Iseran and Cormet de Roselend).
Two of the team's top racers, Maxime Marotte and Ruben Scheire, will start season in Cyprus at the Sunshine Cup.
Bresset will start her season a bit later. "She gets in to shape quite quickly, and her objectives are far later," said Lebreton. "She will race around home and train hard."
The entire team will make its collective start to the season in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Both the squad's cross country and marathon riders will be there. The first World Cup and the first French Cup in Saint Rapahël are among the first scheduled races of 2012 for the team.
Dahle Flesja and Hermida head perennially powerful squad
North eastern Mallorca played host to the launch of the 2012 Multivan Merida Biking Team this weekend. An ever expanding annual event, a new location comfortably catered to over 300 assorted dealers, press and the wider Merida family. The snow which blighted the Tour of Mallorca was still visible in the hills, and a bitter northerly wind made the promotional hooded jacket an inspired choice, but at least the sun was shining.
The Taiwanese manufacturer’s team is based in Germany, and manages to combine innovation, efficiency and a friendly atmosphere to great effect. With a seven-rider line up unchanged from the team that finished 2011 third in the UCI World Cup cross country rankings, one of this year’s aims is to reclaim top spot. But in Olympic year, many teams and riders are looking towards London in August, and Merida is no different.
In Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja the team has a former Olympic and eight-time world champion, who after a maternity break in 2009 has again scaled the podium with wins at the European and national championships and sixth in the Worlds. At 38, she shows no sign of slowing down, and has another Olympic medal firmly in her sights. Two more World Cup event wins would make Gunn-Rita the most successful world cup rider ever.
The 2010 world champion and team joker José Antonio Hermida enjoyed his custody of the rainbow bands last season. Showing strongly all year, his consistency brought fourth in the World Cup and world championships, and fifth in the UCI rankings, with his only victory being the Spanish title. After silver in the Athens Olympic games, Hermida is focussing this season on London, potentially his fourth Olympic Games. Although he hasn’t...
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