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MTB News & Racing Round-up, October 28, 2009

Date published:
October 28, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • KBWB appoints Meirhaeghe coach of Be-Gold Project

    Filip Meirhaeghe (Belgium) races to 19th at the World Championships in Canberra, Australia.
    Article published:
    October 27, 2009, 13:10 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Former Olympian to head up Belgium's push for mountain bike success in 2016 and 2020

    Filip Meirhaeghe has been appointed coach of the Be-Gold Project by the Belgian Cycling Federation (KBWB) on Monday. Meirhaeghe, who retired from competition after this year's World Championships in Australia, will lead the development of riders in the new mountain bike programme, which is aimed to develop Belgian talent for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.

    "The KBWB has, in consultation with the Belgian Olympic Committee (BOIC) and the Belgian Elite sport development committee (ABCD), selected Filip Meirhaeghe as the new coach for the MTB Be Gold project," said the KBWB on its website.

    A silver medallist  in mountain biking at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the winner of the 2003 World Championships, Meirhaeghe said he looks forward to the challenge of working to improve his nation's chances of Olympic success in Rio de Janeiro and beyond.

    "I've always hoped that after my career I would be able to share my experience and knowledge with younger riders," he said. "Now I will get the chance through the Be-Gold Project.

    "I can feel the ambition and enthusiasm that I had as an athlete beginning to grow again. I am delighted to have been given this opportunity, and I consider this new role a great challenge; bring on Rio!" Rio di Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

    Last year, Meirhaeghe finished 32nd in the men's cross country mountain bike event at the Beijing Olympics. He missed the Athens Olympic Games after returning a positive test result for EPO in an out-of-competition test prior to the 2004 games.

    The KBWB said that Meirhaeghe will head up the junior development project, while Rudy De Bie will continue in his role as coach of Belgium's existing elite mountain bike programme.

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  • Matej makes a difference

    Matej Mugerli with his riding companions.
    Article published:
    October 27, 2009, 16:46 GMT
    John Flynn / Crocodile Trophy

    Former road pro helps out Croc Trophy backmarkers

    A heart-warming story emerged from stage eight of the Crocodile Trophy in Australia on Tuesday thanks to an act of sportsmanship from Slovenia's Matej Mugerli during the Queen stage to Cooktown.

    The former Liquigas cyclist, who exited the general classification following an ugly crash just one hour into stage one, has been continuing to ride with the Trophy bunches, but today made a point of joining the last group of cyclists, containing the two oldest riders in the race.

    Mugerli acted as a domestique for the group, spending at least four more hours in the sun and baking heat than he really needed to, to ensure everyone made it to the finish.

    "I'm going to ride with the real heroes of the Crocodile Trophy," Mugerli said at the start of today's stage. His act of kindness certainly touched the hearts of his riding companions.

    Australia's Sharman Parr was choking back tears as she thanked Mugerli at the finish line atop Cooktown's Grassy Hill. "I've never had a pro rider as a domestique before," Parr said. "It was such a beautiful act of kindness."

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  • Morath transfers to Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup Team

    Adelheid Morath signed a three-year contract with Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup Team
    Article published:
    October 27, 2009, 17:18 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    German racer looks toward World Cups and the Olympics

    After years of riding for the Rothaus-Cube Team, Adelheid Morath is making the move to the new Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup Team for 2010. The German, who signed a three-year contract, will focus on the World Cups next season and the 2012 Olympic Games longer term.

    "I see the change as a great opportunity to develop as an athlete. My new team's philosophy, with the 2012 Olympics as the main focus, matches my personal goal," said Morath. "Next season my goal is to finish in the top 10 at the World Cups."

    Morath finished 18th at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, despite a mechanical. That's motivated her to look to the next Olympic Games in London in 2012. "It became clear to me directly after the race (in Beijing) that I will do everything to make it to London. The Olympic feeling inspired me in such a way that I have the dream of London before me. Naturally, I hope then that I can achieve a good place there - without problems."

    The 25-year-old is one of several talented German women on the international circuit. Among them is veteran Sabine Spitz, who won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2008. The two may end up competing for a berth on the 2012 Olympic team.

    "As long as Sabine is still racing, it will be a hard fight, which motivates me at the same time. In addition, one must not forget the other women. Three years is a long time, in which a lot can happen," she said.

    Three years ago, Morath overcame a broken kneecap and returned to racing. Recovery was one of the most difficult periods of her young career. "I was not allowed to exert any pressure or load on my knee, so I swam a lot. I was not able to sit on the bike for two months." She came back with a win at the 2007 Trans Black Forest and an 18th place at the World Championships.

    Morath joins Sabrina Enaux on the new team. "So far I've hardly had any contact with Sabrina. I look forward, however, to the next season and I'm very...

  • Female mountain bikers do well at Xterra World Championships

    Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) at the start
    Article published:
    October 27, 2009, 19:49 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Premont, Enaux, Vanlandingham, others excel in Hawaii

    A half dozen current or former pro mountain bike racers occupied the top 16 spots at the Xterra World Championships run this past weekend in Maui, Hawaii. The Xterra races are off-road triathlons that include swimming, trail running and mountain biking.

    The race was won for the third time by triathlete Julie Dibens in a time of 2:56:42. Former Candian national team rider Melanie McQuaid was not far behind; she finished in third place with a time of 3:08:00. A little under four minutes later, Shonny Vanlandingham, who used to race as a top pro mountain biker for Luna, was fifth despite suffeirng a cold, and a final top-10 performance went to Danelle Kabush, sister of Canadian mountain bike star Geoff Kabush.

    Perhaps the most surprising name on the results was that of Marie Helen Premont, who races currently on the World Cup mountain bike circuit. The Canadian had planned to retire this year, but extended her career and intends to compete next summer at the World Championships, which will be held in Mont Sainte Anne, in her home province of Quebec. She logged the second-fastest bike split, behind only Dibens.

    Sabrina Enaux and Jennifer Smith placed 15th and 16th respectively. In recent weeks, the Frenchwoman Enaux signed for the new Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team. The 31-year-old is a regular top-20 finisher on the mountain bike World Cup circuit and a top performer in many European races. Smith has raced events like the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race and often appears in endurance mountain bike events.

    Both novelty and prize money can motivate mountain bike's female talent to race Xterras. Dibens took home US$20,000 for her victory. McQuaid earned $7,000, Vanlandingham $2,500 and Kabush collected $1,000 - amounts well above elite mountain bike race payouts.

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  • Two Australians finish in Crocodile Trophy top 10

    Steve Rankine rides into the top-ten.
    Article published:
    October 28, 2009, 14:12 GMT
    John Flynn / Crocodile Trophy

    Final celebratory stage to wrap up tomorrow at Cape Tribulation

    One of the great surprises to emerge from the 2009 Crocodile Trophy was the performance of Australia's Tropical Tableland Discovery Team that, barring Josh Prete's mishap two days ago, could have placed three riders in the top ten overall.

    As it was, when considering all categories combined, Isaac Tonello placed eighth and Steve Rankine ninth, an outstanding effort for a local team cobbled together at the 11th hour to contest the event.

    Tonello, who claimed the Masters 1 category jersey in his second attempt at the race, remains in awe of the visiting Europeans.
    "It was good to see Bart (Brentjens) and Urs (Huber) go for it. On the first climb up the creb track they went supersonic," Tonello said.

    "I really wanted to get top 15 overall, and I've come in eighth, so I'm pretty happy with it. "Next year it might be a different story."

    Rankine, an experienced ex-pro triathlete, realises now that he came into the race unprepared, but in the process has learned much from his first Crocodile Trophy experience.

    "I've had a bit of bad luck with flats, but I put my head down and basically scraped into the top 10," Rankine said.

    "Its such a learning experience, I've done some good bike races but this race, in one stage you fight the whole way and one minute you feel like throwing the bike away and the next minute you dig deep.

    "I can understand now why they say it's the toughest mountainbike race in the world."

    Rankine, a Daintree local, will be heading home tomorrow, the final day of the race, as the protagonists of the Crocodile Trophy roll together towards the finish line at Cape Tribulation. According to race tradition, the riders will abandon their race faces and share the incredible experiences that formed the narrative of the 2009 event.

    Urs Huber (Team Stöckli-Craft) will head home to Switzerland with the elite men's title ahead of runner-up Bart Brentjens (Trek-Brentjens MTB Team) of...