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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Monday, September 17, 2012

Date published:
September 17, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Flückiger make history at mountain bike Worlds

    The elite men's podium: Lukas Flueckiger, Nino Schurter and Mathias Flueckiger
    Article published:
    September 09, 2012, 23:15 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Brothers share cross country podium in Austria

    Swiss brothers Lukas and Mathias Flückiger made history on Saturday at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Saalfelden, Austria, when both stepped onto the podium after the elite men's cross country race. Lukas earned a silver medal ahead of younger brother Mathias, who got bronze. They were the first siblings to share a Worlds podium in mountain biking.

    "It's great Lukas and I could come onto the podium together," said Mathias. "Lukas came from the back. In the first part of the race, I caught Luk, then he left our group, but later he came back to us. I think I was a little motivation for him. It's not that we are rivals, but we push each other. It's perfect how we both ended up on the podium. We've been dreaming about this."

    Neither racer was at the front early in the contest, but both proved stronger as the race went on and other early leaders faded.

    The eight-lap race was a roller coaster ride. Mathias fought through traffic at the start from a third row grid position, and Lukas fought back from around 12th place after suffering a motivation issue during the third lap.

    Some of the elite men had tipped Lukas as a favorite because he'd shown good form in recent weeks. He also had been free of the Olympic pressures that some of the elite men faced because he was not selected for the Swiss Olympic team. He said that being called "a favorite" didn't make him nervous.

    "I definitely didn't feel any pressure going into today's race. I think I was relaxed. I was excited to be at this level - maybe there is more pressure if a lot of riders name you as the favorite."

    "I'm not sure about not having done the Olympics. I had more training time than the Olympic riders because they had 2-3 weeks...

  • All Olympic mountain bike champions meet up at MTB Worlds

    All of the Olympic mountain bike winners 1996 - 2012: Jaroslav Kulhavy, Julien Absalon, Miguel Martinez, Bart Brentjens, Julie Bresset, Sabine Spitz, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa and Paola Pezzo.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2012, 1:55 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    1996 to 2012 winners in the same place at the same time

    All eight Olympic mountain bike gold medallists were in the same place at the same time during a special moment at the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships this weekend in Saalfelden, Austria.

    The winners from 1996 to 2012 posed for a photograph after the elite men's cross country race on Saturday. They included:

    1996 - Paola Pezzo (Italy) and Bart Brentjens (Netherlands)
    2000 - Paola Pezzo (Italy) and Miguel Martinez (France)
    2004 - Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway) and Julien Absalon (France)
    2008 - Sabine Spitz and Julien Absalon (France)
    2012 - Julie Bresest (France) and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic)

  • Buhl retires with end of 2012 season

    Melissa Buhl claimed the elite women's national dual slalom title
    Article published:
    September 14, 2012, 0:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Former world champion moves on to medical school

    As the 2012 season draws to a close, so, too, does the life chapter that is the long and decorated racing career of Melissa Buhl. Buhl has been racing for the majority of her life, and she has been no stranger to the top of the podium. In a career encompassing BMX, four cross, dual slalom, and downhill, in which she has won 13 four cross, dual slalom and downhill national titles as well as a four cross Worlds title, it is easy to call her a champion.

    Buhl started racing BMX at the age nine outside of Phoenix, Arizona. At this early point in her racing career, it was probably only her BMX coach, Pat Blackburn, who truly knew her future potential. In the heyday of American mountain bike racing, as a young junior age 15, she joined team Rock Shox Devo and began laying the groundwork for a mountain biking career that would span nearly a decade and a half.

    In 2001, Buhl signed with KHS factory racing where she would spend her entire elite racing career, something very few other top athletes in this sport can say at the end of their careers.

    When asked to reflect a little bit about her career, she said in a recent statement, "It seems a while ago since my first memory of racing as a nervous nine-year-old novice. I was so eager to race, I had my kit on three hours before training even started and drove to the track with my helmet on. I'd be lying if I said my first performance was spectacular, far from it, I spent half the evening flailing around going ass over tea kettle, scabbing my knees up and dusting myself off! The rest of the evening was spent trying to convince my dad the injuries I picked up were insignificant and we should go again the next week."

    "The cuts and bruises eased in days after the race but what stuck with me was the buzz from racing. The warmth and encouragement I received from strangers and excitement I shared with my family on...

  • Meyer ends her pro cycling career

    Vivienne Meyer (Colnago Sudtirol) at La Bresse, France
    Article published:
    September 15, 2012, 17:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Mountain biker switches focus to her education

    Vivienne Meyer (Colnago-Südtirol) announced her retirement from professional mountain biking. Her last official competition was the UCI Cross Country Mountain Bike World Championships in Saalfelden, Austria, where she finished 15th in the U23 category.

    Meyer competed in various race circuits for the last 12 years and participated in six world championships. She joined Colnago-Südtirol in 2009.

    In 2008, she claimed all junior national cycling titles including road, cyclo-cross, and mountain bike. She also finished seventh in the 2011 U23 world championships in Champery, Switzerland, and had numerous top 10 results in the U23 category at World Cups the past few years.

    Nonetheless, finding a balance between her sporting career and her education has been a challenge for her over the past two seasons, and she cited this as the reason for her retirement.  She will now put her main focus toward her studies in psychomotor therapy with the aim of being able to help children in the near future.

    In her retirement announcement, Meyer said, "I do not want to focus on a cycling career with a high school education only. Mountain biking was always important in my life, but there were other things as well which counted in my life. Mountain biking was not only a sport for me, but a school for life also.

    "Now I am at the point where my performance is not the most important anymore. I want to take care of other people and spent more time with my family and friends. My experiences made, as an elite mountain biker will always be part of me, but now it is time to start a new area in my life."

    Her team thanked Meyer for her performances and achievements and said it regretted her loss, but understood and...

  • Eight-day off season nearly over for Gould

    Georgia Gould (United States) races alone for a long time and ended up with a bronze medal
    Article published:
    September 15, 2012, 21:33 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Short break after MTB Worlds for Luna racer

    Georgia Gould (Luna) won't have time to get bored during the off-season. For her, it is only eight days long. The Luna rider just wrapped up her last major mountain bike race of the season at the world championships in Saalfelden, Austria last weekend. Next week, she will race 'Cross Vegas at Interbike.

    For Gould, it's been an amazing mountain bike season, which culminated with winning bronze medals at both the Olympic Games in London and at the world championships.

    "It feels good (to get both bronzes). I knew my form was pretty good after the Olympics," said Gould to Cyclingnews after finishing third at the Worlds. "I went home and immediately got sick, so I didn't have the ideal preparation for this race. Even though it seemed like I had three weeks at home, it felt like a lot of travel in the past month. I'm satisfied with a medal and I'm pleased with the end of my season."

    2012 was a year when Gould stepped up into the role of podium regular.

    She is still chasing her first Worlds or World Cup victory, but is well on her way if this season is any indication. "Right now women's racing internationally is so competitive. Obviously you want to win the race, but there are so many tough women," she said.

    She noted also the quality of the American women who've been racing mountain bikes in recent years. The now retired Willow Rockwell and Gould have won three cross country bronze medals at Worlds in the past four years. "American women pretty much kick ass - what can I say?" joked Gould to Cyclingnews at the press conference following the mountain bike Worlds.

    "This year was the year when the work my coach and I refined paid off - we really dialled it in and figured it out," she said....

  • South Africa names marathon mountain bike Worlds team

    Max Knox takes the win in Wellington
    Article published:
    September 16, 2012, 16:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Seven racers heading to Ornans, France

    Cycling South Africa's Mountain Bike Commission announced the riders who will represent South Africa at the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, taking place in Ornans, France on October 7.

    The following riders have been selected according to the 2012 CSA-MTB Selection Criteria.

    South African team for the 2012 UCI Marathon Mountain Bike World Championships

    Nico Bell
    Kevin Evans
    David George
    Max Knox

    Teresa Ralph
    Samantha Sanders
    Yolande Speedy

  • Mountain bike eliminator well received at Worlds

    Alexandra Engen (Sweden) and Ralph Naef (Switzerland), the first eliminator world champions
    Article published:
    September 16, 2012, 20:43 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    With room for improvement, riders offer suggestions for the future

    One week ago today, the world's best lined up at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships for the first-ever eliminator world championships. At the end of the day, most racers thought the eliminator format used in Saalfelden, Austria, was better than most so far, and there is still room for some improvement.

    In the eliminator, each racer must qualify and those that do move through heats toward a final just like in a four cross mountain bike event. Courses less than a kilometer in length often feature a majority or all pavement, and the most popular ones are held in city centres to draw crowds. In Saalfelden, racers qualified and competed in a two-lap format, with total times per heat around two minutes, a bit longer than typical so far in the evolution of the young discipline.

    Although some riders are now specializing in the eliminator, both the men's and women's world champions were accomplished cross country racers. The UCI held the first eliminator world championship one day after the elite men's and women's cross country races - which solved the problem of riders complaining that they did not want to race a sprint-type event prior to the cross country. However, many favorites still weren't too interested in repeated sprint efforts one day after the elite cross country Worlds.

    Men's eliminator world champion Ralph Naef (Switzerland) said to Cyclingnews, "You have to think about when to do the eliminator to make it popular for cross country riders. The UCI has to think about it, like they do at the end of every year, and make a good plan for next year. Today was perfect for me," said Naef after winning.


  • Brannigan breaks through in World Cup finale

    George Branningan (Devinci) on his way to a breakthrough performance in Hafjell, Norway
    Article published:
    September 16, 2012, 23:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Downhiller returns from injury to finish as runner-up in Hafjell

    Twenty-year-old New Zealand rider George Brannigan produced a breakthrough performance to finish as the runner-up in the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup finale in Norway on Saturday. Brannigan was just 0.4 seconds behind his DeVinci Global teammate Steve Smith as the pair dominated the final downhill World Cup of the season at the alpine venue of Hafjell.

    The young kiwi's strong performance came only weeks after his season seemed jeopardy following a major crash in the USA where he cracked his ribs and had a partially punctured lung.

    It is the second podium for a kiwi rider this year following the victory by fellow Hawkes Bay rider Brook MacDonald at the Val D'Isere World Cup. The placing pushed Brannigan into the top-10 overall on the World Cup standings.

    Brannigan had a measured start, only 12th quickest through the first time split but he claimed the top spot in the hot seat as fastest with a lightning run through the rest of the course to clock 3:32.164.

    His DeVinci Global teammate Smith then tore through the opening big jump section nearly two seconds faster than the kiwi and while he lost time to Brannigan through the rest of the course, the Canadian held on to claim the victory in 3:31.764.

    "I am pretty stoked," Brannigan said. "It is definite relief to be up there. This season my main aim was consistency after last year, just being in the top 20.This race I wanted to hold it open and get a really good result. It feels like a long time coming.

    "My contract is up but I have no reason not to sign with DeVinci again. It is an awesome team and we all get on well."

    The Hawkes Bay rider says he will ease back into riding over the New Zealand summer.

    "The main focus when I get home will...