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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Monday, February 20, 2012

Date published:
February 20, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Lakata hopes for better luck in his fifth Cape Epic

    Alban Lakata on his way to the finish line with his bike on his shoulders in the 2010 Absa Cape Epic.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 15:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former world champion gets a new partner: Mennen

    Five-time Austrian marathon national champion Alban Lakata will participate in this year's Absa Cape Epic with Robert Mennen of Germany as team Topeak Ergon Racing. Lakata was unlucky at the 2010 Cape Epic, when he had to carry his bike for the last two kilometers of stage 3 of the race. This year's event takes place from March 25 to April 1 and will once again take 1200 riders through 781km of some of the Western Cape's terrain.

    Lakata, who will participate in his fifth edition of the race this year, is thrilled to have Mennen as his racing partner."We've been teammates since 2009 and have a very good relationship," said Lakata, 32.

    Mennen, who is doing his first Cape Epic this year, considers Lakata an experienced rider who knows the race. "Our advantage is that we know each other really well and get along wonderfully. In this kind of stage race, it's very important to know how your teammate feels, without him or her having to say it. It's also important to complement one another," said Mennen, 26.

    "After I finished ninth at the marathon Worlds and second at the Kitzalp Bike Marathon, many of my opponents asked why Alban and I don't compete as a team in the Cape Epic - I had no answer to that question," said Mennen. "I'm very excited to participate with a former world champion and hope to learn a lot about the race."

    In the 2010 Cape Epic, Lakata participated with one of South Africa's favourites, Kevin Evans. They were in the lead when they started having problems around halfway. They had about four punctures and started running out of tubes and patches. Lakata had to run with his bike on his back for the last two kilometers of the race as his rim exploded....

  • US mountain bike season kicks off at 24 Hours of Old Pueblo

    Hundreds of racers run to their bikes in the Le Mans start at the 24 hours of Old Pueblo.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 17:10 GMT
    Dave McElwaine

    Pro racers past and present plan to compete in Arizona desert

    Mountain bikers from around the world are arriving in Tucson, Arizona, to participate in the 13th annual Kona Bikes 24 Hours of Old Pueblo being held at Willow Springs Ranch. The organizer claims it is the largest 24-hour mountain biking event in the United States. Todd Sadow, president of Epic Rides, describes it as the "mountain bikers' Burning Man".

    With 1,800 participants and up to 3,000 supporters and spectators, Old Pueblo will turn into a living 24-hour town, a makeshift city filled with tents, campers, and RVs. The city will be buzzing with activity including round-the-clock barbecue, music, and spectators watching the race perched on top of the giant rock formations and in the comfort of their lounge chairs. There is a festival atmosphere as everyone seems to be celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of another season of riding.

    Riders will enjoy a fast 16.1-mile Sonoran Desert course with spectacular views of Mount Lemmon and the Catalina Mountains. The terrain is rolling with a combination of hard pack, sand, and rock surfaces. The weather forecast is optimal, complete with a big full moon to aid with night-time visibility. The course has a few technical sections that should give the more experienced riders a chance for some thrills. But of course there are usually longer go-around options for the less adventurous.

    This year's race is being dedicated to Susan DeMattei, Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee, Olympic bronze medalist, and UCI World Championship silver medalist. She will be honored at a dinner Friday evening and then will be coming out of retirement to race at Old Pueblo.

    "I'm looking forward to getting back on a bike after a Gunnison (Colorado) winter, meeting lots of nice people, and riding some new terrain," said DeMattei. "I have heard lots of great things about the event, the area, and the laid-back appeal of the group, so it sounds perfect. I'm honored to be a part of it!"

    One of...

  • 24-hour solo Worlds favorites visit Canmore

    Tinker Juarez poses with a sled dog
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 20:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Juarez, Wallace and Poidevin race dogsleds and train with locals

    Some of the favorites for the 2012 24-Hour Solo World Championships travelled north this past weekend to Canmore, Alberta, Canada. Although the race isn't until September 14, Tinker Juarez, Cory Wallace and Leighton Poidevin made the trip to drum up support for the event and to join in on a local winter festival.

    Earlier this winter, organizers of the race had staged a contest to "Train with Tinker, Cory Wallace and Leighton Poidevin". Last Saturday, the four contest winners got to do just that. Given the Canmore climate this time of year, the lucky winners hopped onto their road bikes at a local performance lab for an stationary bike time trial indoors with Juarez.

    The man with the most famous dreadlocks in mountain biking pulled away from the group early on, while Canadian 24-hour veteran Poidevin cruised in for second place. It was a good opportunity for everyone to see where they stand next to Juarez, who is logging 30 hours a week this time of year and routinely does six-hour road rides back home in Whittier, California, to build his fitness.

    The festivities didn't end with a trainer ride. Afterwards, Juarez and Wallace each climbed aboard a dogsled and dueled it out on Main Street as part of the Canmore Winter Carnival festivities. Wallace, the reigning 24-hour solo Canadian champion from Jasper, Alberta, took the win with Juarez finishing close behind.

    Finally, the trio attended a Q & A session that evening with topics including: 29ers versus 26ers, nutrition, pacing, lighting systems, seeing things in the dark...

  • South Africa announces 2012 marathon national championships

    Brandon Stewart sets the tempo with Kevin Evans paying close attention
    Article published:
    February 17, 2012, 15:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dates and venues selected

    The 2012 South African marathon national championships will take place in Wellington, in the heart of the Boland, on Saturday, August 25.

    Only 45 minutes' drive from Cape Town, Wellington is situated near the Cape's famous Wine Routes, and the Wellington Tourism & Wine Route of the Western Cape in South Africa is a tourist attraction.

    In what is fast becoming an annual attraction at the Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate, the South African marathon championships will be incorporated into the popular MTN National MTB Series # 5 (Wellington), where thousands of mountain bikers are expected to compete.

    The elite men will race the 105km marathon distance on farm roads and jeep tracks heading away from Diemersfontein, through the vineyards and farms of Wellington, against the scenic backdrop of the Bainskloof Pass road, and towards Groenberg Mountain. The elite women will cover 75km in their championship race.

    The well-balanced and fast course is packed with beautiful views, fynbos, historic farmsteads, stream crossings and vineyard settings, passing many of the local award-winning cellars. The 105km race will finish with some tough riding in the Hawekwa Plantation on the slopes of Du Toitskloof.

    Men can expect to climb 2900m over 105km whereas the women will climb 1850m in 75km.

    Non-elite age groupers will also be entitled to race for South African MTB Marathon Championship status, this time at KwaZulu-Natal's popular mountain biking haven of Hilton, starting at Hilton College, for the fifth annual MTN National MTB Series #7 (Hilton Dirt Festival) on Sunday, September 23.

    Sub veteran men and women (30-39 years), veteran men and women (40-49 years) and master men (50-59 years) will take the challenge in the 70km marathon race that starts and finishes on the grounds of Hilton College, riding through timber plantations and sugar cane farms with spectacular views over the Albert-Falls Dam and the Umgeni...

  • Absalon injured in training crash

    Julien Absalon (France) raced with the lead group until he crashed
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 17:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frenchman postpones the start of his season

    Due to injuries from a crash, Julien Absalon (Orbea) will not begin his season at the GP Jean Masse as planned on Sunday in Marseilles.

    While training on his mountain bike, Absalon clipped a tree and crashed. He bruised his knee and fractured his right thumb. The two-time Olympic mountain bike champion will now likely make his first racing appearance on March 11 at the Copa Catalana Internacional in Banyoles. That race is scheduled one week before the first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup of the 2012 season, to be held the next week in South Africa.

    "I hit a tree with the outside of my handlebars," said Absalon according to "I was thrown to the ground. I'm not doing so badly. It could have been more serious."

    "The swelling in my knee is going down quickly and should allow me to resume training on the road soon. It will take a little longer for the thumb fracture to heal."

  • BC Bike Race announces 2012 route

    Racers roll out for the start of the BC Bike Race
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 22:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    More enduro-style timed sections added

    The BC Bike Race (BCBR), which will celebrate its sixth edition in 2012, announced this year's route and the addition of 12 individually chip-timed sections. The 2012 route offers the same smorgasbord of venues as last year, but will include an all new day 7 in Whistler and some additions and tweaks to the other six days.

    "We never rest on our laurels, having our course designers who are core mountain bikers and trail builders means new trails are added every year," said president Dean Payne. In addition to Whistler, participants will experience singletrack in the communities of Cumberland, Campbell River, Powell River, Sechelt, and Squamish.

    Now with the addition of two timed sections for the first six days, BCBR boasts 12 enduro-style sections. Last year, in a continual pursuit to evolve the event, BC Bike Race included two days with two separate timed sections per day. The "Race within the Race" was launched, tried and true to ensure that the expanded timed sections in 2012 would be a success.

    The enduro component to the stage race helped attract racers like Brian Lopes, who competed in 2011. Speaking of his experience, he said, "BC bike race was one of the most fun events I have ever done. Every day we were treated to some of the best trails in the world, trails I would have never experienced if it weren't for the race. The race was really one against myself most of the time, but with a few timed downhill sections thrown in I knew I had a chance of actually getting some results there. Like all top road stage races, there are categories for those with different skills and it was great to see the BC Bike race organizers throw in some contests for those with exceptional downhill skills."

    "People have different styles, so we want to ensure that everyone has a chance to showcase their unique skill sets," said course director Andreas Hestler. "Enduro racing essentially...

  • 2012 American Mountain Bike Challenge calendar announced

    USA Champion Todd Wells (Specialized) riding sweet singletrack at Mt. Morris, Wisconsin
    Article published:
    February 19, 2012, 18:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    23 events double as qualifying for nationals

    USA Cycling announced the dates and venues for its 2012 American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC). All AMBC events serve as qualifiers for the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross Country National Championships.

    Entering its 16th year in 2012, the 23-race AMBC series will visit 16 states in a six-month span. Racing begins with the US Cup East Southeastern Regional Championship Series (SERC) #1 in Gainesville, Florida, on March 18, and concludes with the Camp Eagle Classic Mountain Bike Festival in Rocksprings, Texas on September 1-2. The complete AMBC calendar is below.

    The AMBC was created in 1996 to provide opportunities for mountain bikers of all ages and abilities. Each stop on the series offers cross country events, and several stops offer short track cross country, downhill, time trials, or super D competitions as well. The top 10 finishers in each respective age group and ability category at an AMBC event will qualify to compete at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross Country National Championships.

    2012 American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) Calendar
    March 18: US Cup East/SERC #1, Gainesville, Florida
    March 25: Chickasaw Trace Classic, Columbia, Tennessee
    April 1: US Cup East/SERC #2, Bryson City, North Carolina
    April 14: Rumble at 18 Road, Fruita, Colorado
    April 22: US Cup East/SERC #3, Conyers, Georgia
    April 22: Stump Jump 2012, Spartanburg, South Carolina
    April 29: US Cup East/SERC #4, Winder, Georgia
    April 29: Greenbrier Challenge, Hagerstown-Frederick, Maryland
    May 5-6: The Idyllwild Spring Challenge, Idyllwild, California
    May 6: US Cup East/SERC #5, Ducktown, Tennessee
    May 6: Iron Hill Challenge, Newark, Delaware
    May 27: Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Durango, Colorado
    June 10: US Cup East/SERC #6, Elizabethtown, Kentucky
    June 24: US Cup East/SERC #7, Clemson, South Carolina

  • 10-speed SRAM Grip Shift available from April

    SRAM Grip Shift X0
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 12:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fitted to Jaroslav Kulhavy’s Specialized S-Works Epic at the 2011 UCI Cross-Country Worlds

    This article originally appeared on Bikeradar.

    SRAM revealed at last summer's Interbike show that they were relaunching their Grip Shift system, and they've now released the first pictures of the production 10-speed shifters, which will be available from April.

    Not much appears to have changed compared to the prototypes we saw in Las Vegas, though SRAM are remaining tight-lipped about details and haven't released any technical specs. All they'll say is that the new shifters are designed to work with 2x10 drivetrains and will be available in XX and X0 form.

    The new Grip Shift was fitted to Jaroslav Kulhavy’s Specialized S-Works Epic when he won the 2011 UCI Cross-Country World Championships. In a video posted on SRAM's website, Jon Cancellier, from SRAM's hush-hush BlackBox product development programme, says: "He really likes the fast shifting. We've taken our time to make it so there's less effort to go from gear to gear, and he was really impressed by that."

    Launched in 1988, Grip Shift was the product that put SRAM on the map. It was originally aimed at road riders and triathletes but a variant was soon developed for mountain bikers. The company went on to develop trigger shifters and Grip Shift fell out of the limelight, although it remained in the SRAM line-up at the behest of cross-country racers, who loved its light weight. This is the first time a version compatible with modern 10-speed cassettes and double cranksets has been produced.