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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Monday, September 5, 2011

Date published:
September 05, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Mountain bike Worlds course suits Wells

    Todd Wells (United States) after finishing off the team relay.
    Article published:
    September 01, 2011, 17:14 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    National champion optimistic about Saturday's title race

    US cross country national champion Todd Wells is optimistic about his chances on the cross country course at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland.

    The American got to scope it out at high speed on Wednesday as a member of the US squad in the team relay. While the team suffered from a crash on the first lap that put it out of medal contention, the riders continued to plug away, trying to catch as many other nations as possible.

    "It's nice to get in a hot lap under race conditions," said Wells after finishing off his lap. "The course has changed this week since we got here. The bark has come off the roots and they become more slippery. The course has so many people on it right now that it's hard to get in a good fast lap during training without stopping."

    Wells will opt for a 29er full suspension bike for his race on Saturday. He'll be on the new 2012 Specialized Epic.

    "I think it will be a good course for me. I'm a big guy so generally the less climbing, the better for me. This is about as little climbing as you can get for a mountain bike race, and I feel like the big wheels will excel on this course."

    The just over 4km course is very technical with many roots and rocks. Yet Wells predicted that the climb will be where the definitive moments occur. "You go pretty hard in the flat sections, then you send the best guys in the world up a three-minute climb several times and when they go in tapped out, it will separate them."

    "If riders are close in ability, yes, then the technical riding might separate the race, but all the top guys are good technically."

    Another factor may affect the racing for the elite...

  • Past Champery winner Schneitter eager to race Worlds at home

    Nathalie Schneitter leads teammate Eva Lechner (Colnago Arreghini Sudtirol) at the end of the start loop
    Article published:
    September 01, 2011, 19:37 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Off to a good start with a silver in the team relay

    Switzerland's Nathalie Schneitter is looking forward to racing the elite women's cross country world championship race on home soil on Saturday in Champery. After winning the World Cup cross country round last year on a similar course at the same venue, she is among the favorites to win a medal.

    "When I got here on Monday, lots of nice memories were coming up, but I know it's a new race, and I will have to fight very hard to win a medal," the 25-year-old Schneitter told Cyclingnews.

    Schneitter was part of Switzerland's silver-medal winning team relay on Wednesday afternoon. The team was hoping to defend its gold from last year, but instead won silver.

    "I was quite nervous to race here again, and I think the Swiss guys were, too. We had a young relay team, and it's our home world championships.

    "Gold would have been nice and we dreamed of it, but silver is nice, too," she said. "It's my first medal at Worlds." Schneitter was a member of the team relay once previously , two years ago, when the squad took fifth place.

    Looking ahead to Saturday's cross country race, Schneitter should go well given her fast lap time in the team relay relative to the other women. Sure, Catharine Pendrel (Canada) and Julie Bresset (France) put in faster times, but that was expected given that they have been stronger all season, and World Cup overall winner Bresset will be in the U23 women's race instead of the elite women's race.

    "I feel like I'm in good shape. I just need a good start and a bit of luck and the power of all the Swiss fans cheering along the course," said Schneitter.

    "Of course, there is some pressure, but it's not a bad thing. For me, I like the extra pressure. My fan club is coming with 80 to 100 people and a lot of people will be in red...

  • Byberg injured and out of Worlds

    Lene Byberg (Specialized) could only manage 22nd place today
    Article published:
    September 02, 2011, 11:30 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Broken bone sidelines Norwegian rider

    Lene Byberg is having a tough late season, and it didn't get any better this week after she broke a bone in a her leg during training for mountain bike Worlds. The injury, just a few days before the elite women's cross country world championship race, will keep her out of the competition.

    The Norwegian was pre-riding the technical course in Champery, Switzerland, when she had to step down suddenly, according to her trade team Specialized Racing. While she didn't actually crash, she heard a snap after her foot made contact with the ground.

    Still able to walk afterwards, Byberg noticed the pain increasing throughout the day and sought further medical treatment, which revealed she had cracked her fibula.

    The fibula is the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg. It is not a weight bearing bone; the tibia does that job.

    Byberg had a rough end to the World Cup season. At the penultimate round in the Czech Republic, she said she did not have a good day and finished 20th.

    She elected not to compete in the final round in Italy so as to rest up for Worlds, but while she was there, her brand new prototype Specialized Fate bike was stolen. It was never recovered.

    Byberg won the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships in Canberra, Australia.

  • Video: Pendrel sets sights on gold at Worlds

    Catherine Pendrel (Luna) in a press conference at the 2011 Mountain Bike World Championships
    Article published:
    September 02, 2011, 13:46 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Canadian hoping for first world championship medal

    Catharine Pendrel has her sights set on winning a gold medal for Canada at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland. Pendrel finished second overall in the 2011 World Cup and is ranked number one by the UCI.

    Pendrel spoke to the media on Thursday, just two days before the elite women's cross country race, which takes place on Saturday afternoon. She fielded questions in both French and English.

    "I'd love to win it. I feel good and I feel confident on the course. I'm looking forward to the race and I hope I can put it together on the day. I've had a good Worlds the past few years, but never a great Worlds."

    Her best previous world championship finish was fourth last year in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada. Prior to that, she'd finished sixth twice.

    Coming into the Worlds, Pendrel is in good shape. She won the last two World Cup races of the season - both of which were held in the past month.

    When asked about the technical course in Champery, she said, "The course is one of the more difficult ones. It has a lot of roots and you have to keep your focus about you. Even though there are two significant climbs, a lot of the course is flat. You have to climb strong, but you have to be focused in the woods and that you're always getting back on your pedals. I think physically, technically and mentally, it's a challenging course."

    Pendrel did not seem too fussed about the Hell's Gate drop that is on the course's A line. "The drop was on a lot of people's minds coming into it. It's a skillset most cross country riders don't have, but I think everyone worked on it and now has it figured out. I think everyone will be doing the A line."

    She predicted that the woods between the drop and the subsequent climb will be decisive in the race. ...

  • 2012 Mountain Bike World Championships presented

    UCI President Pat McQuaid at the presentation for the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, which willbe in Austria
    Article published:
    September 02, 2011, 14:38 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    UCI President McQuaid comments on new format and venue

    All eyes will turn to the Saalfelden-Leogang region of Austria about this time next year. That is where the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships will be held from August 29 to September 9. Organizers and the UCI presented the next edition of the Worlds at an event on Thursday evening at the 2011 Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland.

    "The UCI is happy that this venue is hosting this world championship," said UCI President Pat McQuaid, who was on hand for the ceremonies. "2012 is the 10th anniversary of the last time the mountain bike world championships were held in Austria and where if I remember correctly, four cross was introduced."

    "From what I've seen here this evening and what my staff has told me, I'm confident these Worlds will be a resounding success."

    The last time a UCI-sanctioned cycling world championship was held in Austria was the road Worlds in Salzburg in 2006.

    What will be new for the 2012 mountain bike Worlds is a longer format, spread out over two weekends instead of a few weekdays plus one weekend. Although many teams and media have expressed concerns about the format, which will cost more to support due to the longer stay required to cover all events, McQuaid saw the new format in a positive light.

    "I think it's a sign that mountain biking is getting bigger and is more popular. It's a sign that there are more athletes and more countries involved that we have to split it," he said. "We're doing the same thing with the road worlds next year - for the same reason. Road is getting so popular and big that we can't keep it all in three or four days any more."

    "This will provide more possibilty for a festival and more a of a chance for people to make a holiday of it rather than people just coming for the serious weekend days. It's a motivation to make it a bigger event."

  • Video: McConneloug back in action after Lyme disease

    Mary McConneloug at the World Cup finals in Val di Sole, Italy
    Article published:
    September 02, 2011, 19:20 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Mike and Mary ready to race at MTB Worlds

    It was a trying summer for former US Mountain Bike National Champion Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes), who was diagnosed with Lyme disease this summer. Thanks to a course of medical treatment, the American is back racing again and looking forward to the elite women's cross country world championship race on Saturday in Champery, Switzerland. Cyclingnews caught up with McConneloug and her husband at their RV parked conveniently in the center of the race course.

    "It's been a challenging past couple of months," said McConneloug. "I was feeling bad physically and didn't know what was going on even as I was racing World Cups. I found out I did have Lyme disease and then had to take six weeks of antibitotics."

    The illness caused her to cancel her plans to race the US Mountain Bike National Championships and the US Pro XCT finals, but she was determined to keep a good outlook.

    "It gave me time to wonder where my place in this racing world was," she said. "I knew I had to accept the situation and do the best I could to look forward positively toward my recovery."

    "So far I'm feeling great. I just finished the antibiotics last week."

    Along with the battle has come a greater perspective. "I'm excited to be here with a new appreciation for being able to be here and race my bike in Europe. I'm cherishing every moment of this amazing lifestyle."

    "We're lucky to be able to do this," chimed in Broderick, who also shared his opinion of the Worlds course.

    "The course is great. It's one of the best courses we've seen in the last year. It should be good for spectators too because it winds back on itself," he said. "It's technically challenging with roots and rocks. There are not a lot of standing climbs. They are punchy."

    "They've widened the course this year to make for better passing and I think there are some features that will challenge athletes' skills. I think some people will take the B...

  • Video: Helmet cam footage of Champery's downhill Worlds course

    Matti Lehikoinen (Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense).
    Article published:
    September 04, 2011, 10:35 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Lehikoinen gives a tour of challenging track

    Finland's Matti Lehikoinen gives a tour of the mountain bike world championship downhill track in Champery, Switzerland. He talks us through helmet cam footage of the course, giving insights about what riders will encounter and think.

    Lehikoinen will race the elite men's finals on Sunday afternoon. Elite women, junior men and junior women will also compete in the finals today.

    The downhill track start at an elevation of 1631m and finishes at 1050m. It is just over 1.5km long.

    After on and off rain in recent days, racers will face a wetter track than seen in this video footage. Heavy cloud cover today means more showers are possible.

    Aaron Gwin (United States) and Rachel Atherton (Great Britain) clocked the fastest times in the official timed runs that set seating.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the downhill races.

  • Brosnan defends world junior downhill title

    Troy Brosnan (Australia) en route to a repeat victory in the junior men's downhill world championship.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2011, 23:49 BST
    Cycling News

    Adelaide rider's time good enough for silver in elite competition

    2010 world junior downhill champion Troy Brosnan has successfully defended his world title overnight at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Switzerland, capping of an incredible weekend for Australian sport on the world stage.

    Despite the muddy, slippery and treacherous conditions due to heavy rain fall in Champery, the 18-year-old Adelaide-based rider was by far a step above the rest, stopping the clock in 3:51.50.

    The only junior to break four minutes, Brosnan was more than 12 seconds faster than silver medallist David Trummer (4:03.69) from Austria, whilst Guillaume Cauvin (4:15.94) of France earned bronze.

    Impressively, Brosnan's time would have also placed him in the silver medal position in the elite men's competition – a very encouraging sign for the young talent and Australian mountain biking when he moves up into the senior ranks next year.

    Whilst the majority of riders struggled to stay on two wheels during their run due to the treacherous conditions, Brosnan, who was the third last rider to come down the mountain, showed his class with a clean run to the finish.

    "It was raining all morning but I wanted to attack it like it was dry. I didn't have any mistakes, and I won. I'm so happy. I can't believe it," said Brosnan, who retains the rainbow jersey.

    "I had a good run today and tried to stay smooth. The other juniors crashed, but I kept it on my two wheels and came across the line in front.

    "This season has been good. Getting the junior world championship capped off a good season.

    "I couldn't ask for more. Going into next season with the big boys is going to be fun."

    Australian head downhill coach Jared Rando couldn't be more impressed with the performance of his young charge.

    "That's a huge achievement," Rando said. "Troy's performance was...