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MTB News & Racing Round-up, October 15, 2009

Date published:
October 15, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Merida-Flight Centre signs Willett

    Jodie Willett rode for the Australian National Team at the World Championships, but hopes to claim a national title on the same course early next year.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 8:48 BST
    Greg Johnson

    32-year-old aiming at London opportunity

    Jodie Willett has joined the Merida Flight Centre elite mountain biking squad, with the aim of challenging for January’s Australian national title in Canberra. The 32-year-old single mother also has another big aim after starting the sport late in life: a spot on Australia’s Olympic Games squad for the 2012 event in the United Kingdom.

    “It’s definitely a step up in professionalism for me and it will be great to have that extra support,” she said. “I want to keep riding until the next Olympics and ultimately I want to give something back to the sport.”

    Queenslander Willett joins South Australian rider Terri Rhodes as a new signing to the squad ahead of Australia’s mountain biking season. The pair joined Victorian men Adrian Jackson and James Peacock in the four-person team.

    Willett took up mountain bike racing in her late 20s after injuries curtailed her recreational running. Willett contested last month’s International Cycling Union (UCI) World Mountain Bike Championships in Canberra as a member of the Australian National Team.

    Willett won the women’s race at the Flight Centre Cycle Epic in August. She was also the fastest female in the 2008 Mt Coot-tha challenge in Brisbane, finishing the 2.3km uphill time trial in nine minutes.

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  • Trips for Kids wins Non-Profit of the Year award

    One kid rides along.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 17:11 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    California Governor's Council recognizes organization

    Trips For Kids (TFK) won the 2009 Non-Profit Organization of the Year award given out by the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. TFK was one of 700 nominees. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation presented the award in mid-September at the Fourth Annual Spotlight Awards ceremony in Sacramento, California.

    As part of the award, Trips for Kids will receive a Spolight Award US$10,000 donation at a special ceremony in San Rafael, California on November 19.

    "Trips for Kids is overjoyed to be the recipient of this prestigious award," said Marilyn Price, founding director of TFK. "Recognition from the Spotlight Awards will significantly boost our visibility and encourage more people to sign up as Trips for Kids chapters. The prize will really help us give underserved youth an opportunity to be active through our mountain bikes rides."

    The California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting physical activity for all Californians with an emphasis on children and youth. Anthem Blue Cross Foundation has granted more than $1.75 million to the Council over the last five years.

    "I congratulate all of this year's Gold Medal winners," Governor Schwarzenegger said.

    Council Chairman Jake Steinfeld, founder of Major League Lacrosse and Exercise TV said, "We're proud to shine a spotlight on each of our awardees because they are each doing something amazing to help California's children."

    Trips for Kids is a 21-year-old national non-profit based in San Rafael, Calif., with programs that give underserved youth a chance to experience the joy and challenge of mountain biking, while learning valuable life skills and an appreciation for the outdoors. There are currently 66 Trips for Kids chapters in the United Stated, Canada and Israel.

    For more information on Trips for Kids, visit

  • SRAM renews support of the Sea Otter Classic

    Georgia Gould (Luna) won the Sea Otter cross country
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 19:46 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    20th anniversary event set for mid-April 2010

    SRAM and the Sea Otter Classic continued their partnership with a four-year agreement that makes SRAM the presenting sponsor of the Sea Otter Classic, beginning with its 20th edition in 2010. North America's largest cycling festival is slated for April 15-18, 2010, at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, California. The partnership aims to guarantee continued growth of the event.

    "SRAM has been a sponsor and supporter of the Sea Otter Classic since 1995. Much of the success Sea Otter has enjoyed is directly attributable to their generosity," said Frank Yohannan, President, Sea Otter Classic. "With SRAM's support, we'll continue to present one of the world's premiere cycling events and, more importantly, to introduce a new generation of young people to the wonderful sport of cycling."

    "SRAM is proud to again extend its sponsorship of the Sea Otter Classic. We at SRAM enjoy getting to interact with all the audiences that come to play in Monterey," said David Zimberoff, Global Marketing Director, SRAM.

    The four day event hosts nearly 10,000 pro and amateur racers as well as 50,000 participants and fans. Next year's festival will include competitive and non-competitive events, and cross country, dual slalom, super D and downhill mountain bike events. Road cyclists can compete in road races, criteriums and circuit races.

    There will also be noncompetitive mountain bike tours and a new-for-2010 Gran Fondo.

    Finally, more than 300 exhibitors are expected to join in the annual industry expo.

    For more information, visit

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  • McLennan Ready to wrestle the Crocodile

    Australian Abby McLennan will take on the foreign competition at the Crocodile Trophy.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 19:47 BST
    John Flynn

    Aussie trains long and in the heat to prepare

    Australian Crocodile Trophy hopeful Abby McLennan sounded an ominous warning to her international rivals on what to expect for the upcoming 10 days of extreme mountain bike torture in the wilderness of Tropical North Queensland.

    Tapering her training program ahead of the race start on October 20, the Cairns beauty therapist confirmed there will be no pampering for anyone on the steep, rainforest climbs and long, dusty outback roads that lie ahead over the 1,200 kilometre journey.

    McLennan's advice is well worth listening to. Together with her "Rattle & Hum" teammates, Husband Scott McLennan and workhorse James Banner-Smith, the talented cross country mountain biker has spent recent months scouting the course for the 2009 race, which will venture into the heart of Australia's Outback.

    "I've been doing a lot of big k's, four days in a row of big days up to seven, eight hours and the other days just speed sessions and gym weights workouts," said McLennan.

    "Just lately over the last couple of months, we have been really trying to get out in the hot, dusty terrain to get ourselves used to it."

    A multiple winner of Australia's Triple RRR Classic and Paluma Push, McLennan will front up against some high calibre European opponents, including Dutch cyclist Monique Zeldenrust, who recently represented The Netherlands at the UCI Mountainbike World Championships in Canberra.

    However, the opposition isn't McLennan's main concern, after learning in training that the Crocodile Trophy is foremost about survival. "It's hard, you have your highs and lows and the lows are really hard when you're out in sand and heat and your water's warm and you're dusty and thirsty and tired and you've still got another three hours to go," she said.

    "But you just have to find your little happy place and drift off there and get through it."

    Husband Scott, a Crocodile Trophy alumni whose passion for the race has proven contagious,...

  • Luttenberg signs with Trek-Brentjens team

    Irjan Luttenberg will ride with the Trek-Brentjens Mountain Bike Racing Team in 2010.
    Article published:
    October 15, 2009, 17:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Addition of young Dutch mountain biker strengthens squad

    Irjan Luttenberg signed to ride with the Trek-Brentjens Mountain Bike Racing Team in 2010. He'll participate in national and international competitions along with teammates Jelmer Pietersma, Tim Wijnants and Frank Beemer.

    "Trek-Brentjens is a team that can help me go far, with Bart (Brentjens) as team leader - someone who has ridden at the highest level and knows what it is to be a professional athlete," said the 20-year-old Luttenberg.

    "The experience and energy he puts into the team appeals to me. I have a very good feeling about the team's atmosphere and riders . For 2010, the most important races for me will be the World Cups and World Championships. I think that with my new team, I can get some good results."

    "It's cool to have more Dutch mountain bike talent for my team," said Team Manager and former World Champion Bart Brentjens. "Irjan is still young and has, in recent years, made enormous progress. I think that as part of our team, he'll develop further as a professional."

    Luttenbuerg lives in the village of Kranenburg, near the German border. In addition to his sporting achievements, he has studied physiotherapy at the Hogeschool Arnhem / Nijmegen school.

    Luttenberg began racing at age 14 and then became more serious as a junior. For the past four years, he had ridden with the Stappenbelt Mountain Bike team.

    In 2008, he was the Dutch Under 23 national champion and won the national series race in Groesbeek. This year, he was runner up in the Under 23 Dutch National Championships and at the Benelux Cup in Bertrix. He was crowned Under 23 champion in the Benelux series. In the World Cups, he finished 38th in both Bromont and Mont Sainte Anne.

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  • Armstrong featured in Leadville documentary

    Lance Armstrong at the Leadville 100
    Article published:
    October 15, 2009, 17:15 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    "Race Across The Sky" showing across US on October 22

    "Race Across the Sky - the Leadville Trail 100", a documentary covering the 2009 Leadville Trail 100, will premier across the US on October 22. A broadcast panel discussion of some of the favorite riders from the race including Lance Armstrong, Travis Brown, Dave Wiens and race director Ken Chlouber will precede the movie. The documentary itself includes interviews with elite and amateur cyclists who participated in the 100-mile Colorado event.

    Lance Armstrong won the 2009 Leadville 100 ahead of Dave Wiens. Rebecca Rusch won the women's race.

    The screenings will occur concurrently at 8:00 pm EST / 7:00 PM CST / 6:00 PM MST and will be rebroadcast at 8:00 PM PST on the West Coast. Theatre locations are posted online.

    Citizen Pictures, the producers of the documentary, is one of the International Mountain Bike Association's corporate sponsors. In preparation for the 2009 edition of the race, IMBA trailbuilders joined six-time race winner Dave Wiens to re-route a section of the course at the request of the Bureau of Land Management.

    "It was great working with race director Ken Chlouber, Dave Wiens and more than 40 volunteers who showed up for the Leadville race course project," said IMBA's Ryan Schutz. "Events like Leadville bring great things to the sport, like national media attention and a strong sense of community for the racers. They also inflict a good deal of wear and tear on trails, so it's great to see everyone working together on this kind of sustainable trailbuilding effort."

    IMBA is sponsoring a prize drawing for documentary attendees who post group photos to IMBA's Facebook page.

    A list of participating theatres can be found at For more information, visit

  • International riders start to arrive for Crocodile Trophy

    Paul Van Hattem is all kitted out for the Crocodile Trophy.
    Article published:
    October 15, 2009, 17:48 BST
    John Flynn

    Holland's Van Hattam is first of the Dutch contingent in Cairns

    Less than a week away from the start of Australia's Crocodile Trophy mountain bike stage race, the first of the international arrivals have started landing in the tropical oasis of Cairns to enjoy the local hospitality, visit The Great Barrier Reef and saddle up for 10 days of racing.

    Acclimatising to the steamy Tropical North Queensland conditions, Dutchman Paul Van Hattem made the most of a cruisy ride to the tumbling rainforest waterfalls of Crystal Cascades yesterday, following an invitation from the local Rattle & Hum team which is also competing in the race.

    Van Hattem is the first of three riders and two support crews to arrive from the Dutch Crocodile Trophy team. Typical of many of the race's European visitors, the Dutchmen have gone all out with their Crocodile Trophy assault.

    The team has set up a website,, designed specific Crocodile Trophy jerseys, and has even shown up armed with Crocodile Trophy business cards.

    For Van Hattem, an amateur cyclist, racing the Crocodile Trophy is the culmination of firstly a dream, followed by five years of solid planning.

    That planning shifted to a new level when Van Hattem became aware that one of The Netherland's best-known sportsmen, former World and Olympic Champion Bart Brentjens had signed on to do the race.

    "I was away on holidays when the news came through that Bart Brentjens was doing the Crocodile Trophy. When I arrived home my email inbox was full," Van Hattem said.

    "For me it was big news that Bart was doing the Crocodile Trophy and the next few days, it was all over the news papers.
    "Everybody was asking me questions about the Crocodile and about Bart."

    The elder statesman of mountain biking in Europe and clearly one of the rolled gold legends of the sport, Brentjens is without question the most significant signing in the 15-year history of the race.

    The former World and Olympic champion will...