DRD X-Fusion Intense sponsors American downhillers
Dean Racing Development (DRD), X-Fusion suspension and Intense Cycles announced a joint factory mountain bike race team for the 2011 season. The "DRD X-Fusion Intense" team includes five riders - four pros and one junior.
Former US downhill national champion Cody Warren is new to the team while JD Swanguen returns to the squad. Jason Memmelaar, Brad King and Austin Warren are also on the roster.
"I'm extremely excited to join the DRD X-Fusion Intense team and work with this great group of guys," said an enthusiastic Warren. "Dylan Dean and I go back a long time, so I know that the support I receive will be world class! I'm thrilled to get back to racing!"
Swanguen, a talented street rider, slalomer and dirt jumper, makes his return to the team from the X-Fusion race program. He will be filmed throughout the season to showcase his 29er project.
"[I'm] stoked to continue my great relationships with my current sponsors and excited to start new ones this season," said Swanguen. "I am looking forward to a progression filled year."
East coast fan favorite, Jason Memmelaar has quickly risen in the American downhill scene and gives the team much needed depth. He is fresh off a stellar 2010, including a win in the Crankworx Colorado dual slalom and and second at the Winter Park US Pro GRT.
The team will continue to develop younger riders. Brad King will make his pro debut, having raced for the DRD program as a junior in 2010. Austin Warren will join the team as the team's only factory junior cat. 1 rider.
"Words I can't express how excited I am to get this season started," said Team Director Dylan Dean. "We've comprised one of the best US programs on the circuit. From top sponsors to arguably the most talented riders, the team is going to make a huge mark in the mountain bike race world."
The racers will compete and train on Intense M9 downhill frames, Tracer 2 cross country frames and Tazer slalom frames.
Intense marketing manager Craig "Stikman" Glaspell was excited to back the newly combined DRD and X-Fusion team. "They have a full roster of American athletes that are not only tremendous bike riders, but really great ambassadors for getting people excited about riding bikes of all types," he said. "At the end of the day it's all about riding our bikes and this 2011 program makes me smile and want to get out on a bike and shred."
2011 DRD X-Fusion Intense Factory Team
Brad King (San Marcos, California)
JD Swanguen (San Diego, California)
Jason Memmelaar (Chester, New York)
Austin Warren (Alpine, California)
Cody Warren (Alpine, California)
Team Director - Jeremiah Dylan Dean (Escondido, California)
Mechanic - TBD
Dutch mountain bike team adds its first two off-road women riders
The Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team is expanding on the success of its first season by adding two accomplished mountain bikers: Katie Compton and Rosara Joseph, its first two women riders.
Compton, 32, divided her winter between the USA and Europe, winning all five World Cup races she entered and a silver medal at the 2011 cyclo-cross world championships. The American is a perfect match for the team as she starts preparations for the coming mountain bike season and the Olympic Games.
Her new, two-year deal is good timing for the American after her previous sponsor, Planet Bike, announced that it was pulling out of sponsoring 'cross last year. She is looking forward to racing with her new team.
"I am very excited to join the Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team over the next several years, which I believe will be the best of my career. I have high goals and expectations for myself for both cyclo-cross and mountain biking. I am happy to be a part of such a respected and well run team as I continue to pursue these goals."
Joseph, 28, from New Zealand, a former Rhodes Scholar and lawyer, was ninth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in cross country, and fifth in the 2007 mountain bike world championships, signed a one-year deal. She will also be looking towards London 2012.
The new signings will give the team an immediate boost to its standings, as the new UCI Elite Mountain Bike Team rankings for 2011 use combined scores of both male and female riders.
Jan ten Tusscher, Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team Manager, explained the benefits of signing Compton. "As of this year, for the rankings the team’s top three men and top two women will count as a team. Katie is very motivated to succeed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and will be targeting this year’s mountain bike world championships as a key stepping stone."
"The continued expansion and globalization of our team played a key role in attracting both Katie and Rosara to the team. Rosara had her share of bad luck in the past years, but is back on track. We will give her all our support to develop herself."
Young South African cross country racers among favorites
Last year the 18-year-old James Reid (Mr Price/BMC) won 10 important races, including a South African half marathon title. He also finished 11th in the junior race at the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championship in Canada. This weekend in Jonkershoek, South Africa, Reid is a favorite among those racing the 2011 African Mountain Bike Continental Championships. It will be the first time that the South African cross country racer will race in the under 23 category.
An excellent student who achieved seven distinctions in his final exams, Reid's goal after completing school is no secret even as he continues to balance racing and education.
"I am an 18-year-old athlete with the sole aspiration of becoming a cross country world champion one day. But I am also a goal-driven individual who has other interests besides a fanatical love for speed on two wheels," said Reid.
"I enjoy reading and writing, politics, economics and English. If I had not been a cyclist, or if my cycling career should not be successful, I would work towards becoming an engineer or a lawyer.
Reid will balance training and racing with taking a few classes through UNISA this year. He is living in Hilton, South Africa, under the watchful eye of his coach Johann Wykerd.
"From a mountain biking point of view, it feels as if I am living in a rider's heaven with so many trails around Hilton, Howick and Karkloof only minutes away," said Reid, who will limit his focus to cross country races with the occasional marathon thrown in.
"It is important for me to improve my world ranking as much as possible before the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championship so that I will not have to start right at the back."
With Reid moving up from the junior to the under 23 ranks, the door is open in the junior race at the continental championships for Reid's teammate and friend, Luke Robberts.
During the cross country Worlds in Canada last year, Reid and Robberts proved that they have what it takes to beat the world's best when they finished 11th and 12th respectively.
However, Robberts is reluctant to be labeled a favourite for the junior race. "Being a pre-race favourite is new to me, and I will try to ignore it. My race strategy will be to focus on matters that I know I can control. I cannot control the weather or the way my rivals ride, therefore it serves no purpose to worry about it. If I were to do so, I would put myself under unnecessary pressure.
"Saturday's race will be a major event. It is the first race of real importance on the local mountain biking calendar and everybody will be out there to prove a point," Roberts said.
"I am quietly confident that I will have a good race, because my preparation has been going well and I am in good form."
According to Robberts, Brendon Davids and Gert Heyns are two of the riders he will have to watch.
"It is unfortunate that Arno du Toit will not be racing because he is still recovering from a broken collarbone.
"Racing against Gert is always very difficult because he is such an unpredictable rider. When Gert is hot he is boiling and then it takes a real effort to beat him. Unfortunately the opposite is also true. When Gert has a bad day, it is very bad. Nobody ever knows which Gert will be lining up for a race.
"Between Brendon and me there has been a long-running battle. In the beginning, when I just started out as a mountain biker, Brendon used to beat me constantly, but since the second half of last year I have gained a slight upper hand in our one-on-one confrontations on the bike."
New record with one week to go until opening round
A record 29 countries will be represented at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. The popular early season event will kick off on February 20 in Voroklini with a UCI category 1 event.
"This huge number of different countries is really impressive. Sometimes you don't get this many in an overseas World Cup," said Mike Hadjioannou of Bikin' Cyprus.
In 2010, riders from 25 nations participated. In addition to the usual top mountain bike countries of Switzerland, France or Germany, riders also came from Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malta, Corea, Estonia and Latvia.
Asian champion Kohei Yamamoto may have one of the longest trips, coming from Japan, but as the number 26 world ranked racer, he a familiar face in the peloton.
With one week to go, Slovenian Blaza Klemencic (Felt Ötztal X-Bionic) also announced her participation. She finished fourth in the World Cup finals in 2010. She'll be joined by teammtes Thomas Litscher of Switzerland and Austrians Karl Markt and Simon Scheiber.
The German under 23 national team, the Dutch national team and the Swedish national team will all be on the start line.
The Sunshine Cup's round two will include the Afxentia stage race on February 25-27, and the finals will happen in Amathous-Agios-Tychon on March 6.
Eliminators and short tracks added toward standings
The 2011 MTB Bundesliga International will feature four rounds of two races per round in Münsingen, Saalhausen, Heubach and Bad Salzdetfurth. For each round of the German national series, racers will contest a conventional cross country and a short format-type event.
This year's series features just four venues compared to seven in 2010. In part, this is because potential host Albstadt switched to putting on the German National Championships instead of the national series. Furthermore, another unspecified venue, which was considering coming onboard, will sit out this year while it sorts out some local circumstances. Unlike last year, the small size of the series is not being attributed to tough financial conditions, according to organizers.
To augment the one cross country race per venue traditional series format, results from a short format-type event held with each round will also be counted in the series standings.
At the opener in Münsingen on April 16-17 and at the final in Bad Salzdetfurth on September 24-25, an eliminator sprint will fill the short format bill, similar to what is new for the World Cups in 2011. However, instead of four riders per heat, the Bundesliga will continue running its eliminator events with six riders per heat. Number one and number two move on to each next round plus the two riders with the best time of all heats.
Bundesliga round two in Saalhausen on May 14-15 is planning a short track race to go along with its cross country. Expect the race to include 10 laps of competition on a short lap. Heubach, which will host the third round on September 10-11 may feature a hill climb time trial for its short format event, but that is still to be confirmed.
The German national series will continue, for the third consecutive year, racing its under 23 men and elite men separately. The UCI has adopted this approach, too, for the first time in World Cups for 2011.
"We had about 140, 150 riders in an elites race, and the young guys had no chance to get points and to develop," said a spokesperson for the series to Cyclingnews. "You only can get points if the U23 riders are riding in a separate race. We have them in the morning before women's race."
The under 23 women will continue to race with the elite women.
Three of the four events are UCI category 1 events while Heubach, one week after the mountain bike Worlds, will again be HC-category, one of three single-day events globally.
2011 MTB Bundesliga International, Germany
April 16-17: Münsingen (C1)
May 14-15: Saalhausen (C1)
September 10-12: Heubach (HC)
September 24-25: Bad Salzdetfurth (C1)
The US is getting a new elite women's team for 2011. The NoTubes team has been created to support female racers as well as to continue advocating women's participation in mountain biking.
In its inaugural year, the team consists of four elite women: Nina Baum of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Zephanie Blasi of Tucson, Arizona; Shannon Gibson of Durango, Colorado; and and Kathy Sherwin of Heber City, Utah. Between them, the riders boast collegiate, state and national championship titles in several disciplines.
In addition to participating in races across the country, members of the NoTubes Women's Elite Team will mentor young riders through "Get Out!" programs and other initiatives targeted at increasing awareness to the issues associated with women in cycling.
"It remains a priority to us at NoTubes to do everything possible to increase the prevalence of women in this sport," said Cindy Koziatek, co-owner of NoTubes.
"By creating this team we're not only providing opportunities for some very talented women to race nationwide, but we hope they will continue to act as ambassadors for women's involvement in mountain biking."
Sherwin can boast 60 pro career wins since she started racing at age 27. She turned pro in 2004, when she quit her full time job to give mountain biking and training her undivided attention. Since then, she has raced all across the country and world to include mountain bike World Cups in Scotland, Belgium and Germany. Over the years as she fell in love with racing and became a consistent top 10 finisher on the national circuit, she also discovered her passion for Cyclocross.
2010 was her comeback season after losing both parents in 2009. By the end of the 2010 mountain bike season, Sherwin had started to feel like herself again and had her best season to date in cyclo- cross, coming in fourth at the US Cyclo-cross Nationals in Bend, Oregon.
This season, Sherwin will race North American World Cups and regional mountain bike races plus she will compete in cyclo-cross full time in the hopes of making the US Worlds team.
Baum is a five-time New Mexican state champion and was the 2004 Collegiate Mountain Bike national champion in cross country and short track. She has enjoyed several top-10 rankings in the US National Mountain Bike series over the last five years.
Gibson's first career was as a professional ballet dancer. After seven years of retirement in her 30s without any exercise, she found mountain biking. She is a three-time New Mexico State Champion and has raced on the national circuit. She regularly achives top 20 finishes in the elite 'cross fields and has raced the USGP Series, North American Cyclo-cross Trophy races and both Masters and Elite National Championships.
Also racing mountain bikes for the team, Blasi is from Missoula, Montana, but currently lives in Tucson.
The team will make its debut at the 24 Hours In The Old Pueblo. They'll also race the Pro XCT series, Mountain States series, Whiskey 50 and North American World Cup events.
Team sponsors include Orbea, Sixty-five.12, Schwalbe, Ergon, Smith Optics, Rotor, Genuine Innovations, SRAM, Crank Brothers and Verge Sport.
The British Mountain Bike Race Series will return for 2011, with the first round being held at Sherwood Pines over the weekend of March 26-27.
The five-round series will visit Dalby Forest on April 16-17 to give racers a taste of what's to come at the Dalby World Cup in May. It will conclude at Newnham Park on September 24-25. Two of the rounds will be UCI category 1 races and three will be category 2.
The series hopes to build on the 3,000-plus riders taking part in last year's events. To do this, it has changed the format so that races will mostly take place on Sundays in order to fit in with busy lifestyles.
There's also an elite prize fund of £15,000, trophies for the top three finishers in every category and UCI points up for grabs. That should attract high quality national and international riders, such as 2010 National Champion Liam Killeen and 2010 Series Points Champion Oli Beckingsale, as well as Canadian star Geoff Kabush.
For more information on the British Mountain Bike Cross Country Race Series, visit www.britishxc.com.
2011 British Mountain Bike Race Series - Cross country
March 26-27: Round 1 - Sherwood Pines
April 16-17: Round 2 - Dalby Forest
June 11-12: Round 3 - Wasing Estate
June 25-26: Round 4 - Margam Park
September 24-25: Round 5 (finals) - Newnham Park (includes enduro, flood lit cross and team relay)
Swiss rider will partner with World Champion Hermida
Switzerland's Ralph Näf will participate in this year's Absa Cape Epic as part of Multivan Merida Biking Team 3. The event, which will take place from March 27 to April 3, 2011, will take 1,200 cyclists through 707km of wilderness with 14,550m of climbing to finish eight days later at the Lourensford Wine Estate.
Näf boasts a number of titles and was the European Cross Country Champion in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2010; Marathon World Champion in 2006, and second in the cross country world championships in 2007.
Returning for his second Cape Epic after completing it the first time in 2007, Näf said he loves stage races. "[Jose Antonio] Hermida and I had a bet that if either of us ever wears the World Championship jersey again, we'll do the Cape Epic the following year. That's exactly what happened - Hermida won it last year, so here we are."
"I also love the good weather during the race in South Africa when we still have snow in Europe. I spent many weeks of training in South Africa late last year and early this year, so it definitely is time to do my second Cape Epic."
Riding with close friend, Hermida, Näf reckons that you need to know your partner very well to finish the race without too many problems. "I think we'll have a lot fun, but of course also produces a lot of suffering. We need to win at least one stage - that's our goal and we'll give our all for it."
During season, Hermida and Näf see each other often. They share rooms when traveling. "We therefore train together a lot, and most of the time it's hard and fast. It's also not easy for a professional mountain biker to always stay light and skinny. For me, it's easier to lose weight in high altitude training."
Näf enjoys every day in the saddle, saying it is much better than sitting in an office. During the Cape Epic, he advises, "Never go over your limit. Stop to eat, drink and chat with your partner. We participate in the best sport there is. Do it for fun, set your goals and go out to achieve them."
In his free time, Näf enjoys spending time with his family and doing different sports. His aim for 2011 is to win the cross country world championships at home in Switzerland.