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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Monday, February 25, 2013

Date published:
February 25, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • NICA High School Cycling News Round-up - February 21, 2013

    Three Arizona High School Cycling League student-athletes rode the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo on a team with Team Sho-Air/Cannondale's Pua Mata. From left to right: Pua Mata, Daisy Ward, Hannah Madler, Zoe Dunn.
    Article published:
    February 21, 2013, 20:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    High school MTB hits the big screen, Old Pueblo representation and spring racing

    The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) develops high school mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. Formed in 2009, NICA is coming into the 2013 year with robust numbers and broad support from within the bike industry. NICA's coaching license program has grown to nearly 1,000 strong, and NICA anticipates having over 2,500 student-athletes race in one of the nine NICA Leagues. With the addition of the New York League, NICA now has leagues on the west and east coast. The high school mountain biking movement is well under way.

    NICA premieres feature documentary film: "Singletrack High"

    At the age of 16, many American kids trade in two wheels for four. Trusty steeds that once gave them freedom to explore on weekends now collect dust in the garage. For a growing number of high school students in Northern California, however, two wheels don't get dusty, they get dirty. Their lives continue to revolve around weekend rides, but now those rides have a finish line. These are the student athletes of the NorCal High School Cycling League. This is "Singletrack High".

    The film premiered to a sold out audience on February 6 in Mill Valley, California. Singletrack High will be screening all over the USA in 2013 and beyond. Screenings are being hosted by NICA, NICA leagues, NICA teams, and other bike organizations looking to spread the word about high school mountain biking.

    For a current list of screenings, click here.

    To preview the "Singletrack High" trailer, click here.

    Rider camps held in three separate leagues

    To get...

  • Olympian Hanlen keeps close to home

    Whakatane’s Karen Hanlen on her way to victory in the women’s cross country race at the New Zealand MTB Nationals
    Article published:
    February 22, 2013, 2:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mountain biker to skip European campaign

    Olympian Karen Hanlen successfully defended her cross country national title at the New Zealand Mountain Bike National Championships in Rotorua last weekend. However, despite her victory and her proven ability abroad, the Whakatane rider is using this year to stay closer to home.

    She will try some alternative events, although she still has a firm focus on next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

    Hanlen, a mother of two, is not planning a prolonged riding stint in Europe this year. "I have decided to stay closer to home and race more of our long distance iconic events."

    This includes the Oceania Championships in Tasmania in Australia next month, and she is also hoping to again compete in the national Xterra Championships in Rotorua in April.

    "I plan to have another go at Xterra if I can get myself accustomed to swimming and running again."

    She hopes to also contest the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships which are in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in late August.

    "While I won't be in Europe, there is still plenty to keep me busy. My big focus is on next year's Commonwealth games in Scotland and so 2013 is about having more time with family and saving hard to make it all possible."

  • Cyprus Sunshine Cup kicks off in Voroklini on Saturday

    The elite men and women on the start loop of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup round in Voroklini
    Article published:
    February 22, 2013, 21:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Kulhavy, Giger, Engen and Lechner among the favorites

    The 2013 Cyprus Sunshine Cup will kick off in Voroklini on Saturday, February 23 with several top riders in attendance. Among the men are Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized), Fabian Giger (Giant Pro XC Team) and Manuel Fumic (Cannondale) while eliminator world champion Alexandra Engen, Eva Lechner, Katrin Leumann and Blaza Klemencic top the women's start list.

    Kulhavy won the Voroklini race last year, and he is hoping to repeat the success, however, he cautioned that it will only be the first intense effort in his build-up toward the Cape Epic stage race in mid-March.

    For most of the other contenders, it will also be their first test of the season. Giger, who was second in Voroklini last year and won the overall Sunshine Cup, will likely be Kulhavy's biggest challenger. Last year, only two seconds separated the two top riders.

    German national champ Fumic hopes to be with the front guys again. "There are top guns at the start line, and I want to one of them. My training was very good and I'm looking forward to the race on the nice course at Voroklini." In 2012, he lost contact with the leaders after a crash and finished fourth, 30 seconds back.

    Fumic's two young teammates are two other riders to watch. Anton Cooper is fresh off winning the New Zealand national title while Keegan Swenson of the US will be kicking off his season.

    Other podium contenders include Swede Emil Lindgren (Giant Pro XC Team), his teammate Henk-Jaap Moorlag of the Netherlands and Karl Markt (Oetztal Scott), who won the overall Sunshine Cup in 2011.


    The women's race may boil down to a battle between Alexandra Engen, her Ghost teammate Katrin Leumann, Blaza Klemencic (Calcit Bike) and Eva Lechner (Colnago-Südtirol).

    On the paper, Lechner should be the favourite as the 2011 cross country world...

  • World champ Schurter and Vogel prepare for Cape Epic success

    Nino Schurter (right) and Florian Vogel of the SCOTT Swisspower team tussle for a line through a tight turn during a training ride in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The Swiss pair will be aiming for a high overall finish in the 2013 Absa Cape Epic next month.
    Article published:
    February 23, 2013, 15:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Scott Swisspower's Frischknecht also to race after broken foot

    Their short-term quest is to crush the five-minute barrier on the "Slangetjie" Strava segment in Stellenbosch South Africa; but the primary early 2013 goal of Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel of the Scott Swisspower professional mountain bike racing team, is to shine at the 2013 Absa Cape Epic.

    With less than a month to go until the start of the Cape Epic, the world's most prestigious mountain bike stage race, current cross country world champion Schurter and his teammate, Swiss compatriot Vogel are putting in some quantity mileage in the heat of the South African summer.

    Based in Stellenbosch, a sport-obsessed university town about a 45-minute drive from Cape Town, Schurter and Vogel have been focussing on almost the opposite of what they did this time last year. Last February, they were lining up Olympic Games success in their sights - Schurter was narrowly beaten to gold in London, while Vogel finished 25th.

    But while they excel in short races lasting up to 90 minutes, few would back them to be contenders for the overall win at the 800km, eight-day stage race, which starts on March 17, expecting possibly a stage win and a top-10 final finish. But Vogel and Schurter are backing themselves for a shot at the overall podium in their second Cape Epic participation.

    "We have not been training to win just a stage. We have been training and preparing to do well in the overall," said Vogel. "Yes, we are not stage race specialists, but then not many of our rivals are either. We think we have as good a chance as anyone else."

    "It is very sad there will be no Burry Stander in the race. And we know that Christoph (Sauser) and Jaroslav (Kulhavy) will get great sentimental support as they race in his memory. But it is still a race and as...

  • Hermida and Van Houts build form at Andalucia Bike Race

    Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) in catalogue pose
    Article published:
    February 23, 2013, 19:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cink and Litscher pair up as second Multivan Merida squad

    Jose Hermida and Rudi Van Houts (Multivan Merida) will be building some early season form while participating in the six-day Andalucia Bike Race in southern Spain starting on Sunday. The pair hopes to defend their victory of last year.

    The racers will compete in six stages in Cordoba and Jaén. In the Cordoba region, the climbs are not that long. However, the fourth and fifth stages may be much more decisive since the mountains of the Jaén region provide long climbs and demanding descents.

    "This region is really mountainous, and as some stages have already been ridden at this point of the race, stages 4, 5 and 6 are likely to decide the overall standings," Hermida predicted.

    "Of course, I want to repeat that win with Rudi. But there is some serious competition. With Carlos Coloma and Sergio Mantecon (Trek Wildwolf), two fast riders from the cross country World Cup are competing as well, and there are a lot of strong marathon specialists, too."

    Both Hermida and Van Houts are using the Spanish race as preparation for the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, where they will also team up.

    "This race is perfect to find one's racing rhythm before South Africa's Cape Epic stage race. Last year the World Cup started very early, but this year it's a different story," said Van Houts.

    Multivan Merida will be represented by a second team in Andalucia: Thomas Litscher and Ondrej Cink. It will be the first time both young riders race in the colors of the Multivan Merida Team.

    "I have been working hard on my endurance throughout the winter, so I feel ready even for those long stages that are waiting in the second half of this race," said Cink. "I want to go for a podium position in the overall classification, but that's not going to be easy as we are facing experienced specialists for long-distance races such as Alban Lakata."

  • Olympic champion Kulhavy ready for his first Cape Epic

    Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) was world champ in 2011 in cross country racing.
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 17:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Czech rider teams up with defending champion Sauser

    Olympic cross country gold medalist Jaroslav Kulhavy is looking forward to competing in his first-ever Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in mid-March.

    Kulhavy will team up with defending champion Christoph Sauser for Team Specialized Racing. Sauser had planned to defend his title with Burry Stander, but the South African was killed in an accident while training on January 3, and instead Sauser will ride with Kulhavy in memory of Stander.

    "I feel great at the moment, but I know the race will be very hard," said the 28-year-old Kulhavy. "I started training later this season than last year."

    "I think Christoph and I'll be a good combination. We've competed in several races together, and we're both very strong. If we don't have any trouble, there is a big chance for us to win stages and finish on the podium overall. We need a lot of luck!"

    Kulhavy and Sauser are not doing any pre-race training together. "We'll see each other at races," said Kulhavy. "I train long hours at the moment and I'm riding about 200km per day. I need to lose 2kg before the Cape Epic."

    2013 is a post-Olympic year and this season is already shaping up differently than in 2012, when all the top riders were focused on getting gold in London.

    "I thought I'd have some more free time this season, but with the Cape Epic, then Sea Otter, the World Cups and so on, I'm going to be busy. The season looks difficult, but I look forward to it!"

    Kulhavy reckons that his advantage over other riders is his "good technical control and high standard of performance". He proved his is in good form on Saturday by winning the Cyprus Sunshine Cup opener in Voroklini.


  • Gallery: Wells and Park tune up legs in Arizona

    Todd Wells (Specialized) descending on his S-Works Epic
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 20:52 GMT
    Dave McElwaine

    Racers enjoy early season vibe of MBAA racing

    Todd Wells (Specialized), along with other well-known North American pros, headed down to Fort Hauchucha in Arizona yesterday to race in "The Foray at the Fort". As expected, Wells put on quite a show for the crowd by racing with the intensity he normally reserves for World Cups.

    "I have to get used to suffering again and that was a great race and venue to do it at," he said after winning.

    The race at Fort Hauchuca took place where the tall grassy plains met the snow-capped mountains at an elevation of 5,000 ft. Riders were challenged with steep climbs and descents along with changing course conditions. Early in the day, the ground was wet due to snow earlier in the week, but later the sun dried the course making some of the climbs more difficult on the small pea stones. The pro men raced five five-mile laps while the women raced four laps.

    TJ Woodruff (Momentum Endurance) finished second, 9:21 behind Wells. He had raced in the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo last weekend and was obviously still recovering. First-time pro Ryan Petry finished in second place.

    Petry said after the race, "I had the unique opportunity to race Todd Wells, a mountain bike national champion and 2012 Olympian. Not whom I was expecting to face in my first pro race, but it really pushed me to work hard to get on the podium!"

    Krista Park (Cannondale-NoTubes) opted to race with the singlespeed men to get a better workout. "It's great to be a girl," said Park, "lots of categories to choose from for MBAA's race. Think I'll sleep in then race the open men's singlespeed class at noon. More laps than the girls' race, and it'll be warmer."

    She finished fourth but found that her gearing was not ideal. "Five laps of ups and downs, I geared right for the steep rocky bits, but was way spun out in other sections. Singlespeed open raced at the same time as Cat. 1, I would get blown away by geared riders, then take half a lap to catch them back and pass just to do...

  • Newly engaged couple Fry and Mather race for Team Avanti in 2013

    Ben Mather and Rowena Fry are riding for Avanti in 2013
    Article published:
    February 25, 2013, 2:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fry switches focus back to mountain bike racing from the road

    Tasmanian mountain bike couple Rowena Fry and Ben Mather have teamed up this year to ride for Avanti Bikes.

    Fry is taking a year away from European competition and returning her focus to a majority mountain bike racing program. She will concentrate primarily on the Australian domestic scene, racing cross country, marathons and stage races.

    The six-time national champion, with titles in short track, cross country and marathon, is also a former Oceania champion and has won major events including the Highland Fling, Wildside MTB and Tour de Timor.

    Fry has battled with health issues over the past two years but feels like they are now behind her. Last year, she had a busy schedule racing for the women's GreenEdge road team and competing at the cross country and eliminator World Cups. She scored a podium result in the latter.

    Although Fry's cross country world ranking has dropped from the top 20, she is looking forward to a year at home before embarking on a campaign to compete at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

    "I have definitely under-performed the last couple of years. I'm happy I've finally been able to string together a solid pre-season. I'm feeling good and really looking forward to competing in all the great Australian races I've missed out on the last few years."

    Mather is better known to the marathon scene and won the Australian marathon national championship in 2010. In 2011, he won the Convict 100 and finished runner-up in the Ottway Odyssey, the James Williamson Enduro and the Highland Fling. Also in that year, he finished second overall in the hotly contested National Marathon Series.

    A major road race accident resulted in him breaking his collarbone and patella and put a damper on his 2012 season.

    "It was a tough year. Every time I tried to increase my training load, I had knee problems. It was hard to watch the other guys racing, but has made me hungrier for success. This year I'm really...