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MTB News & Racing Round-up, November 4, 2010

Date published:
November 03, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • 23 Degrees signs Harry Heath

    Downhiller Harry Heath is the newest signing for 23 Degrees Sports
    Article published:
    November 02, 2010, 10:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Young downhiller hopes for top 20 World Cup placings

    British rider Harry Heath has signed a deal with 23 Degrees Sports and becomes the latest addition to the company's stable of athletes. The talented 19-year-old from Congleton in the United Kingdom represented Great Britain at the junior downhill world championships in Canberra in 2009 and then raced the 2010 season as an independent with very little on site support.

    "Knowing that I have 23 Degrees supporting me makes me so motivated for next season. Training has already started for 2011, and I'm ready to join a program and race a full World Cup season and be a regular in the top 20," said Heath. "I was really gutted to crash at the junior Worlds, but the sixth place finish wasn't too bad all considering. I know with the right support, 2011 can be my best year to date."

    In 2010, Heath finished fourth in the Avalanche Sprint Cup Oz en Osians in France and fifth at the Maxxis Cup International Fafe, Portugal. He was 42nd at the World Cups in Champery, Switzerland and Windham, New York.

    "We've been watching Harry since the beginning of 2009, and it's abundantly clear that this guy is talented," said Martin Whiteley of 23 Degrees Sports Management.

    "I feel he really suffered in 2010 without having some clear direction and support, and we hope that we can help him back onto the trajectory he was on as a junior. He comes from a country full of talent but it's his off-bike professionalism and commitment that has really impressed me over the past six weeks. We're proud to have him on board."

    Some of the other athletes currently managed by 23 Degrees Sports include Greg Minnaar, Sam Blenkinshop, Justin Leov, Neko Mullaly and Bernard Kerr.

  • Wagner aims to become first blind finisher at Cape Epic

    Gerrie Olivier pilots the tandem for blind racer Hein Wagner
    Article published:
    November 02, 2010, 14:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    Adventurer will race a tandem in mountain bike stage race

    Blind adventurer and motivational speaker Hein Wagner will take on next year's Absa Cape Epic with experienced cyclist Gerrie Olivier as Team Pragma Beyond Vision. It will be the first time in history that a blind person participates in the mountain bike stage race.

    Gerrie Olivier, Managing Director of Pragma Acuity and four-time Cape Epic finisher, invited Hein Wagner to be his partner. They met each other at the 2010 Physical Asset Management Thought Leadership (PAMTL) Conference, found common adventure ground and agreed to tackle the race on a tandem mountain bike with the goal to comfortably complete each day.

    "I'm a keen cyclist but due to my work commitments, I don't ride to win but rather to enjoy it and keep fit," said Olivier. "This will be a brand new challenge for me, something that I thrive on, and it's heartwarming that we'll be doing it for a good cause, raising funds in the process."

    Wagner has set aside the fact that he has been totally blind from birth to live a fulfilling and abundant life and never hesitates or stands back for any challenge. "I've taken on many daring adventures such as mountain climbing, sailing from Cape Town to Rio, running several marathons and becoming the fastest blind driver in the world (he holds the World Land Speed record for a blind driver), but this will definitely be the most physically challenging event I've take on to date. Seven hundred and seven kilometres over eight days will not be easy, especially not over the kind of terrain that even sighted cyclists struggle with."

    However, he has total confidence in his pilot. "Gerrie is an experienced, skilled and sometimes daring cyclist. A specially adapted Cannondale mountain bike tandem, better known as 'Worshond' will be put through its paces and in preparation, we recently completed the Karoo to Coast, a 100km mountain bike race. Although all went well and we finished in good time (five hours and 25 minutes), we both agree there...

  • Strigel and Schouten win 2010 Wisconsin Off Road Series titles

    WORS elite overall winner Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt) rides the Trek Firelane Drops at the Subaru Cup US Pro XCT, where he placed 11th after a back-row start.
    Article published:
    November 02, 2010, 16:19 GMT
    Claire Cannon

    Top finishers recognized at WORS season-ending banquet

    The winners of the 2010 Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS), now in its 20th season, were honored on Saturday, October 30 at the annual awards banquet in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Elite women's overall winner Abby Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) became the first person to ever win the WORS elite overall four times. In the men's series, Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt) was crowned 2010 elite overall winner.

    For Schouten, 2010 was his third overall win of the WORS Series, bringing him equal with defending champ Brain Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek) at three series titles apiece. The two racers both call Sheboygan home and, earlier in the season, Schouten had joked with Matter that, not only did he want the "1" number plate, he wanted the particular "1" number plate that Matter had been racing all season.

    "We might have to have a little ceremony to transfer the plate," said Matter before the final WORS race of the season. "It may involve a Packers game."

    Schouten first won the WORS elite overall in 2001, when he was only 19, making him the youngest overall winner in WORS history. He won again in 2002, and then shifted his focus for several year to national-level races. This season, Schouten raced with success in the WORS elite field, on the road, and in cyclo-cross.

    In June, at the Subaru Cup, a stop on the US Pro XCT, Schouten started at the very back of the men's pro race and worked his way through a 60+ man field to finish in 11th place. The following day at the short track, he was narrowly edged from the podium by Todd Wells, and took sixth ahead of racers like Carl Decker, Ryan Trebon and Sid Taberlay. After winning the WORS Series this fall, Schouten turned his attention to cyclo-cross. With repeated top-five finishes in the pro field, he has continued to do himself and Wisconsin proud through a very long season.

    "I've been measuring time in seconds lately," said Schouten, who recently started a new job. "In the...

  • Trans-Sylvania returns for its second edition

    Trans-Sylvania Promoter Mike Kuhn takes the media on a tour of some stages.
    Article published:
    November 02, 2010, 21:34 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    2011 mountain bike stage race route launched

    The Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race will return for its second running on May 29 through June 4, 2011. Organizers announced the route for the next edition at a media camp last week. Building upon the success of its inaugural year, the Trans-Sylvania will again include seven days of racing located in and around State College, Pennsylvania. While the stage venues will generally stay the same, the organizers have tweaked start and finish locations and specific routing within each stage.

    The race is put on by Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams with the help of the local community. It is headquartered at the Seven Mountains Scout Camp, a few miles outside of State College.

    "The whole race went really well, and the feedback we got was overwhelmingly positive," said Kuhn of the race's first running in 2010. "We were almost surprised it went so well our first year. People told us that they couldn't believe it was a first-year event."

    With an emphasis on fun for everyone balanced with enough challenge for the pros, the race will again showcase seven diverse riding destinations near the race's headquarters. Expect everything from the super rocky, technical singletrack, to fast, smooth, flowing purpose-built singletrack to gravel and paved roads.

    "We want our stage race to be the most fun. We designed the week to have each successive day build on the one before," said Kuhn. "We try to mix it up and show the variety of terrain covered and how the stages operate."

    In 2010, several stages started in locations remote from the race headquarters camp, but still finished at the camp. In 2011, all but two stages will start and finish at the camp, thereby simplifying logistics for both organizers and racers. Two stages will be run entirely remotely - one with a start and finish at Raystown Lake and one with a start and finish at R.B. Winter State Park.

    The racing action will kick off with a prologue individual time trial on...

  • Two-time Olympian McConneloug to host NorCal CycleFest

    Mary McConneloug, Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa & Laura Turpijn in the lead
    Article published:
    November 03, 2010, 13:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Bay Area native to lead Sunday mountain bike ride

    Cycling aficionados are invited to the eighth annual NorCal CycleFest, the San Francisco Bay Area's cycling social event of the season, November 6-7 at the Mill Valley Community Center, which this year features two-time Olympian and national champion, and Fairfax native Mary McConneloug as the special guest.

    "It is an honor to speak at the NorCal CycleFest. This is very much a home audience for me, and it's impressive to see the remarkable growth in high school cycling in California during the past decade," said McConneloug. "Now the NorCal program is producing national team members! I cannot think of a better way than the high school leagues to develop mountain biking, and, of course, I cannot think of a better sport for young people to be embarking on. This sport and the League hold so much for the future of cycling."

    McConneloug, who races for the Kenda/Seven/NoTubes team, grew up in Marin County, and while riding a mountain bike in her youth, didn't start racing until she moved to Seattle and was introduced to the sport by a friend. Had the NorCal League been in place back then, McConneloug's career might have started several years earlier.

    As it was, she specialized in opera singing and was on course for a career as a stage performer before discovering her bicycle racing talent.

    The two-day CycleFest gathering is the main annual fundraiser for the NorCal High School Cycling League, the organization that led to the formation of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)

    The weekend will start on Saturday evening with a cocktail hour with McConneloug at the Mill Valley Community Center. Then will come a silent auction and gourmet dinner, which will be followed by on-stage conversation with McConneloug and her pro racer husband Michael Broderick. A live auction will follow. On Sunday, McConneloug will lead a limited-entry ride of 25 mountain bikers on some of Marin's finest off-road cycling trails.

  • Defending champions Schultz and Reeves to return to Whiskey Off Road race

    Kenda's Andy Schultz drives it at the front.
    Article published:
    November 03, 2010, 16:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Equal prize money for pros at Arizona event

    Last year's winners Andy Schultz (Team Kenda-Felt) and Gretchen Reeves (Team Tokyo Joes) will return to the Whiskey Off Road endurance mountain bike race in Prescott, Arizona, on April 29 to May 1, 2011 to defend their titles.

    "I had so much fun last year I would be there regardless of the purse size," said Schultz.

    The pair is set to face some stiff competition with several other pros already committed to the event including Amanda Carey (Kenda-Felt), Barry Wicks (Kona Bikes), Dara Marks-Marino, Jay Henry (Tokyo Joes), and Tinker Juarez (Siemens-Cannondale). In addition to the above confirmed athletes, there has been interest from other pro level mountain bikers plus non-mountain bike specific professional level athletes.

    The 2011 Whiskey Off Road will take place Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1. The pro athletes will participate in a two-stage weekend. The first stage will be a Fat Tire Criterium held Friday evening, and the second is the 50 Proof endurance cross country on Sunday morning. All amateur level athletes will enjoy their choice from the graduated distance options including a 15 Proof, 25 Proof or 50 Proof course (1 proof = 1 mile).

    All events will be based in the center of downtown Prescott on Whiskey Row, which receives an estimated 10,000 visitors each weekend day during tourism season.

    Registration for the pro portion of the event opened on Monday, November 1. Event organizer, Epic Rides, expects the pro category to fill up relatively quickly; it is limited to the first 100 entrants and boasts two days of racing and a US$20,000+ cash purse attached to the Sunday, May 1 cross country race. Unique in the mountain biking industry, the cash purse will be split 50/50 between men and women.

    Pro registrants will need to attach a race resume to their registration form in order to gain entry into the 2011 Whiskey Off Road. When completing the online registration form, it will prompt the applicant...

  • Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association to offer college scholarships

    The start of one of the boys' waves at the MiSCA race at Lake Orion, Michigan, on October 3.
    Article published:
    November 03, 2010, 19:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cannondale teams with MiSCA to support winners

    The Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association (MiSCA) has teamed up with Cannondale Bicycle Corporation, which will be donating resources to help fund college sponsorships for the winners of the 2011 MiSCA varsity championship races.

    MiSCA has tentatively scheduled five mountain bike races for the fall of 2011, with the final race awarding a minimum of US$2,000 in college scholarships.

    MiSCA, formed in the spring of this year as part of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association, has as its mission to establish and maintain safe, quality scholastic cycling programs. An interscholastic racing league was piloted this fall and in the inaugural season, students from area schools competed for podium positions at three mountain bike races held in the south east Michigan area.

    Look for MiSCA board members at local cycling events, expos, and bike shops this winter and spring as they reach out across the state to recruit more schools and volunteers.

    For more information on MiSCA or how to donate or sponsor them, visit

  • Former USPro champ Wherry manages new Under 25 mountain bike team

    Tad Elliott (Sho-Air / Specialized) at the Triple Crown finals near Harrisonburg, Virginia.
    Article published:
    November 03, 2010, 21:33 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    New Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory development team signs five

    A new under 25 mountain bike racing team will appear on the US domestic racing circuit for the 2011 season. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Devo Sweet Elite presented by Spine Colorado/Durango Orthopedics and Fort Lewis College is based in Durango, Colorado, and managed by past US pro road champion Chris Wherry.

    The team will include racers such as Under 23 US cross country national champion Tad Elliott and 2009 US Collegiate cyclo-cross champion Teal Stetson-Lee, Collegiate and junior national champion Howard Grotts and junior national champion Alicia Rose Pastore. Fort Lewis rider Colton Andersen is also on the squad, which will be coached by Joey Thompson.

    Wherry explained to Cyclingnews how the team came to be: "The team sort of developed from Durango Devo, a youth mountain bike program. They have kids from age five through high school. After that, the available programs drop off.

    "We have super talented mountain bike riders coming out of the woodwork, and we decided that it would be a great idea to help these kids get to the elite level of the sport. They will have a chance to see where the sport will take them."

    In 2010, Durango Devo riders won eight titles at the National Championships in Granby, Colorado. Last month, Fort Lewis College was crowned collegiate mountain bike national champions for 2010.

    Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory had been sponsoring some local riders, and the company saw this as an opportunity to promote the development and elite side of the program.

    When asked why the team chose the age threshold of 25 as opposed to 23, Wherry said: "We were looking for kids who have been through Durango Devo and/or are tied to Fort Lewis College. Teal Stetson Lee has been racing really well lately in cyclo-cross with the Cal Giant Berry team. She's the oldest memeber of the team, and she's 24, so that's how we came up with the cut-off. She's been a supporter of the Devo program...