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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Saturday, February 22, 2014

Date published:
February 22, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Trans-Sylvania Epic adds three-day version

    You never know when Dracula might appear at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. Did you know that he can ride an impressive line through a rock garden?
    Article published:
    February 17, 2014, 20:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike stage race now includes "weekend" option

    In celebration of its fifth birthday, the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race announced it is adding a three-day version, named the TS3, which will kick off on May 25, 2014.

    "A shortened version of the event is something we've considered since we started, and we are very happy to be able to introduce the TS3 this year," said Mike Kuhn of the Outdoor Experience Organization, which organizes the race. "This shorter option will allow a lot of people who have wanted to ride the TSEpic to take part in some of the fun of the week while managing everything else that life throws at you."

    Held on Sunday, May 25 through Tuesday, May 27, 2014, the TS3 will overlap with the first three days of the seven-day Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSEpic), which will happen on May 25-31, 2014. It also overlaps with the US Memorial Day holiday weekend.

    TS3 racers will have a blast on the same initial three courses as their TSEpic-contending peers but will spend more time on the Bald Eagle course on the first day. Instead of an individual time trial around a single 15-mile lap, three-day racers will compete in a mass start event for two laps and 30 total miles on a wide mix of almost every kind of terrain that the TSEpic throws at participants through the week. The 45-mile Cooper's Gap "King Stage" on Tuesday will take racers on a tour of some of the best singletrack they'll find anywhere in the world, and finally, stage 3's Galbraith Enduro - the only enduro-only stage in any endurance stage race - will wrap up the TS3 action.

    "Being in a position to launch TS3 is a lot more than just saying, 'Come on out, we're doing a three-day'," said Kuhn. "We greatly appreciate the fantastic support of Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and local mountain bike clubs like Seven Mountain Conservation Corps, Nittany Mountain Bike Association and the new Bald Eagle Mountain Bike Association."

    The TS3 will be a part of...

  • Schurter to race Tours de Suisse and Romandie with Orica GreenEdge

    2013 World Cup overall and world champion Nino Schurter
    Article published:
    February 18, 2014, 18:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cross country mountain bike world champ gets green light from UCI to race road

    After winning three cross country world championships and three World Cup titles in only five years, Nino Schurter (Scott Odlo) is temporarily looking for a new challenge in 2014. The Swiss mountain bike star will race part-time on the road for Orica-GreenEdge and will compete in both the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. 

    Schurter will team up with Orica GreenEdge because the squad is also sponsored by Scott, which backs his mountain bike team. He got the idea to do the road races awhile ago, but he had to wait for approval from both the UCI and Swiss Cycling, which he eventually got.

    "To do the Tour de Suisse once in my life has always been my dream," said Schurter. "My heart is in mountain biking and will remain there. But if I ever wanted to ride a big stage race on the road, the 2014 season offers the perfect slot for it.

    "To defend my world championship title is still going to be my main goal for 2014, and furthermore I will 100% concentrate on mountain biking to hopefully add a missing Olympic [gold] medal to my collection. I believe that on my way there, I can gain a lot of knowledge and experience from racing on the road with Orica-GreenEdge this year."

    Scott-Odlo Team Manager Thomas Frischknecht said, "Nino has always been looking for new ways to develop his skills. He is searching for improvements all the time - the opposite of a copy-paste athlete. That's him and that's why he is so good at what he is doing. I respect him for these characteristics and therefore support him with this idea. I'm pretty sure this experience will only make him stronger."

    Shayne Bannan, general manager of Orica-GreenEdge was pleased about his...

  • Gallery: World Cup champion Zakelj renews with Unior Tools

    Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools)
    Article published:
    February 19, 2014, 18:49 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cross country, enduro and downhill mountain bike team presented for 2014

    World Cup champion Tanja Zakelj will lead the nine-rider Unior Tools team for 2014 after she re-signed with the squad for its fifth season. New for this year, Unior Tools is adding an enduro focus to its existing cross country and gravity racing efforts.

    Zakelj had some good results prior to joining the team one year ago, including 10th at the London Olympic Games and under 23 and junior cross country world championship titles, but she surprised everyone by making the podium at almost every cross country World Cup race in 2013. She claimed victories in Nove Mesto and Val di Sole and also won the European cross country title in Bern.

    "I have higher self-confidence after last season, but again I have to focus on each of the events and do my best," said Zakelj.

    "My main target is, of course, on the World Cup and both world and European Championships. I'm working according to my program, with great trust in my coach and the team, this year also with new training including acrobatics. There are also some other changes in my training, but I will keep them secret for now."

    Suemasa switches disciplines and joins Unior Tools

    Multiple-time Asian champion Mio Suemasa has joined the Unior Tools team for 2014. However, after racing in trials, downhill and four cross, Suemasa is opening a new chapter in her life: competing in cross country races. She will still defend her downhill national title, but after 10 years of gravity racing, she's looking forward to the new challenges of endurance racing.

    "The tracks changed a lot in past decade. The jumps are getting bigger and bigger, so it's getting hard to keep up," said Suemesa. "Last year, I did my first cross country race in Japan. I went there just for training, but it was...

  • Gallery: Multivan Merida presents 2014 team

    2014 Multivan Merida Biking Team
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 19:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike team launched Mallorca camp

    The Multivan Merida mountain bike team presented its riders for 2014 to the media in Mallorca. Team Manager Fabian Aust hopes to continue to build on the squad's success from 2013.

    Among the highlights from last year were Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå winning her ninth rainbow striped jersey at the marathon Worlds. Jose Hermida also earned a bronze medal at the cross country Worlds while he and his teammates claimed top team honors at two of the World Cup rounds and second overall. Finally, Ondrej Cink, Hermida and Dahle Flesjå claimed titles at their respective Spanish, Czech and Norwegian nationals.

    Team photos, sponsor schmoozing and training rides filled up the training camp as new rider Julian Schelb, the reigning under 23 world champion, got to meet his new teammates.

    "By signing Julian Schelb, the team continues its drive to rejuvenate its line-up step by step," said Aust. "This strategy has netted us some spectacular successes last year. Of course I'm convinced that Schelb's character is a superb fit for the team as well."

    The team's 2014 line-up features six riders. At age 41, Dahle Flesjå is not the least bit tired. The Norwegian has high ambitions to win her 10th world championships in 2014 in front of her home crowd. Another goal of hers is to win her 29th World Cup round, which would make her the most successful athlete ever in the history of the World Cup.

    Thirty-five-year-old José Hermida is another experienced veteran in the team. The Spaniard intends to return to the kind of consistency that kept him near the top of the World Cup's overall...

  • Hannah siblings head up Hutchinson UR Team

    The Hutchinson UR Team launched in Chile for 2014
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 23:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    2014 elite mountain bike squad launched in Chile

    After an exciting 2013 season during which the Hutchinson UR team got numerous international podiums, national championship titles and released the documentary "A Racer's Dream", the UCI elite-level team has set new plans for the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series.

    The team recently met up in Chile in the bike park of Nevados de Chillan for some training, testing, shooting, and showing the team's new colors. For 2014, the team will focus its energy on a group of four riders who have been getting along well together for the past three years: Mick Hannah, Tracey Hannah, Guillaume Cauvin and Fabien Cousiné.

    2013 downhill world championship silver medallist Mick Hannah of Australia said, "I'm excited to continue with Hutchinson UR team. I have seen huge growth since Tracey and I first signed, and I believe that this growth will continue."

    Joining her brother for her third year on the Hutchinson-UR program is Cairns local Tracey Hannah. After an injury-plagued 2013, Tracey is poised for redemption and is training harder than ever, fuelled by a bronze medal at last year's world champs.

    "I am looking forward to the up coming season," said Tracey Hannah. "Last season was hard coming back from a broken leg and then having ongoing injuries. I'm excited to feel great and looking forward to having fun with the team."

    Frenchman Cauvin is also back for another yeaar with the team. At the young age of 19, the talented French rider achieved numerous top 25 results last year, with a career best of 20th at the Val Di Sole World Cup.

    "I've learnt a lot in the last two years; so I'm happy to continue and...

  • UCI brings changes to Mountain Bike World Cup format for 2014

    South Africa Philip Buys in action during the men's cross country eliminator at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg. The Eliminator has been dropped from the schedule for the UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg due to lack of daylight hours to accommodate it.
    Article published:
    February 21, 2014, 15:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    No eliminator at Pietermaritzburg opener

    When mountain bike racers and fans return to the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on April 11-13, they will notice some changes to the programme brought about by the International Cycling Federation (UCI).

    The schedule has been rejigged to host the downhill finals on the Saturday, swopping places with the cross country final, which will now take place on the Sunday.  Furthermore, the eliminator, which was a crowd-pleasing feature of the world championships last year, has been dropped from the programme altogether.

    Simon Burney, the Mountain Bike Sport Coordinator at the UCI's Sport and Technical Department says dropping the eliminator had nothing to do with the event's popularity but rather the lack of daylight hours to fit in the entire programme.

    "It has only been dropped from Pietermaritzburg, simply due to lack of daylight with no options to fit it elsewhere into an already packed schedule," said Burney.

    Burney pointed out that swopping the downhill and cross country was actually reverting to the original format for the World Cups.

    "Traditionally downhill was always on the Saturday and cross country on the Sunday," said Burney. "It only changed a few years ago."

    "This year we had a couple of organisers who asked about the option to switch it back, particularly Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada who have the Commonwealth Games just three days before their event, so they wanted to give the riders travelling from Scotland an extra day to get there, recover from travel, and train on the course."

    "Also for the downhill riders, when they raced on Sunday, Saturday was a kind of wasted day for them, with just a short training period. This gives them a shorter overall schedule without affecting their training or competition," Burney said.


  • NICA launches Wisconsin League

    A NICA student athlete in action
    Article published:
    February 21, 2014, 21:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    More of a Midwest presence for high school cycling

    The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), a youth development organization governing interscholastic mountain biking in the United States, announced Wisconsin as the newest state in its growing nationwide program.

    With the announcement slated for a Friday evening dinner at the Frostbike event in Minnesota, NICA executive director Austin McInerney said, "This is our 11th league and it is a very significant step forward for the NICA community in several ways. First of all, thanks to Trek Bicycle, one of our largest and most long-standing sponsors, for the special contribution that kickstarted this league."

    "We are honored to partner with the long-running and highly respected Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS), and to be working with them to add school-based cycling teams and events. Being adjacent to our successful Minnesota League, the new Wisconsin program creates potential for cooperation as we have seen with our two long-running California leagues. Wisconsin and Minnesota between them will soon become a major force with far-reaching influence."

    Brandon Buth of Trek Bicycle said, "At Trek, we're elated to bring dedicated middle and high-school mountain bike racing to Wisconsin. We've worked for a long time to make this happen, and we're thrilled to help NICA realize their vision of coast-to-coast mountain biking by 2020."

    In the fall of 2013, WORS ran a successful state high school championship outside the NICA umbrella, but this fall it will run a four-race series as the NICA Wisconsin High School Cycling League.

    In the Wisconsin League's inaugural series, up to 200 student athletes are expected to participate from 15 - 20 teams situated across the state, including teams from La Crosse, Eau Claire, Hayward, Wausau, Appleton, Kenosha, and Jefferson.

    Don Edberg, the founder of WORS and president of the new Wisconsin League, said, "We look forward to working with NICA to grow organized high school...

  • Equal prize money for men and women at US Cup Pro Series

    Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) exiting one of the two rock gardens
    Article published:
    February 22, 2014, 10:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Payouts revealed for each of four rounds

    The new USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series announced that it will pay equal prize money to men and women for each round of its series and for the final overall classification. Co-organizers Sho Air Cycling Group and USA Cycling also revealed the series points breakdown for all four rounds in their inaugural series, which will begin in early March.

    "We are pleased to announce that we will be paying equal prize money across the board at the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series, even though the UCI rules do not call for it," said Scott Tedro of the Sho-Air Cycling Group.

    "After talking with Georgia Gould and other professional mountain bike racers, I decided to match all prize money; however, I have also challenged the women to get their numbers up at the races!" said Tedro. "The men's fields generally outnumber the women's fields at four or five men to every woman. We want to support these amazing ladies, but they have to help grow their sport and show up in greater numbers."

    London Olympic cross country bronze medallist Gould, who races for the Luna Pro Team, was delighted to hear the news. "I am looking forward to racing in the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series," said Gould, who is the US Cup's official Female Pro Spokesperson. "I can already tell it will be drawing the top women in North America."

    In 2014, the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series includes three established races and one new race: the Mellow Johnny's Classic in Texas; Bonelli Park in California; Fontana in California; and a final new race in Colorado Springs, Colorado. All races will be sanctioned by the UCI as Category 1 events except for Bonelli Park, which will be a Category HC event,...