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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Saturday, January 12, 2013

Date published:
January 12, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Woodruff and Freeman continue with Crank Brothers Race Club

    Chloe Woodruff and Judy Freeman (Crank Brothers Race Club)
    Article published:
    January 09, 2013, 17:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    American women ready for 2013 mountain bike season

    Chloe Woodruff and Judy Freeman will be back in the colors of the Crank Brothers Race Club for this season.  The two American mountain bikers will focus on a mix of US Pro XCT and World Cup events.

    After joining the team for the 2011 cyclo-cross season, Woodruff came on pedaling hard. In her first year racing 'cross, she earned a fourth place finish at her first USGP race. She even stood on the top step of the podium at a UCI race, the North Carolina Grand Prix. Her heart, however, is truly with mountain bike racing. Not only was she a two-time under 23 cross country national champion, but she was also named to the 2012 Olympic Long Team and competed for a place on the London Olympic Team.

    Woodruff had an impressive 2012 season, which included breakthrough performances at the mountain bike national championships, where she finished sixth in the cross country and fifth in the short track. She carried that form through to the Missoula, Montana Pro XCT for a third place cross country finish and a win at the Ore to Shore 48-mile race in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

    2012 was Freeman's first year with the Race Club. Last year, her season got off to an incredible start when she was named as one of the nine riders on the Olympic Long Team and was vying for a spot to the London Games. At the first race of the season, the Mellow Johnny's Classic, she finished in impressive second..

    Some bad luck and injuries plagued her World Cup campaign, not only costing her a tooth, but also slowing down her progress in trying to qualify for the Olympics. However, once recovered, she rode to a fourth place at the Montana Pro XCT and won the final Pro XCT round at the

  • Davison replaces Wells as NICA Awards guest host

    Lea Davison (Specialized)
    Article published:
    January 09, 2013, 21:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Wells changes plans to head to Stander's funeral

    Olympian Lea Davison will replace Todd Wells as the guest host of the 2012 National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) Awards ceremony this weekend. Wells had to change his plans to attend the funeral of his Specialized teammate Burry Stander, who was killed in an accident while training on January 3.

    "I am still in shock over the loss of one of my best friends and teammate, Burry Stander. It is hard to wrap my head around it, and I'm sure it's going to stay that way for quite sometime," said Wells.

    "Because of this tragic event, I am heading to South Africa to pay my respects to his family and friends at his funeral this weekend and therefore won't be able to attend the NICA Awards. I was honored to have the chance to speak at the NICA event, an organization that has done not only an incredible amount for mountain biking, but youth in general all over the country. Please keep Burry in your thoughts this weekend, enjoy the ride and be safe."

    Davison, who also races for Specialized, will be filling in for Wells as host. The 2012 Olympian, who founded the Little Bellas program, has stepped up to the hosting job on short notice. She is stoked to hit the trails of Fort Ord for the benefit ride and to share her experiences at the awards banquet.

    NICA expressed its sympathy following the Stander's death. "Our hearts are with the Stander family, Todd and the Specialized Team as they try to come to terms with this tragedy," the organization said in a recent statement.

  • Gwin explains details behind move to Specialized

    World Cup leader, Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing)
    Article published:
    January 10, 2013, 15:20 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    No contract breach according to American downhiller

    Aaron Gwin denied allegations that he "breached any contract" with his 2012 team Trek World Racing when he signed for Specialized's downhill racing program effective in 2013. The World Cup champion explained his transfer publicly on his website

    "I'm writing this public note to hopefully shed a little light on what's actually going on with my move to Specialized," wrote Gwin.  News broke of Gwin's transfer on Tuesday, and his former Trek World Racing team, run by 23 Degrees, immediately responded, stating that he had violated a letter of intent and promised to pursue all options, including legal action.

    "Reports that I broke my contract with 23 Degrees/Trek World Racing are false. My contract expired. The one-page letter of intent I signed said there would be a 'full length contract' with 'precise terms' coming in the future. The 16-page contract that showed up in late November was not signed by me because it was not the deal we had made. I have moved on to a team that gave me the contract I wanted, and these are the facts."

    Gwin called press reports "inaccurate, unfair, and one-sided." He said, "Because 23 Degrees has hired lawyers and threatened to sue me, my lawyers have told me not to say anything for now."

    The American noted that while racing for Trek World Racing, he had lived up to his contract, giving 100 percent effort and a full commitment. "I hope everyone understands that I cannot talk any further about this at this time, but I felt like I needed to clear the air a bit, without getting too much into the legal stuff."


  • Foundation created in memory of Burry Stander

    A foundation has been created in memory of Burry Stander
    Article published:
    January 10, 2013, 17:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    New organization will lobby for safer conditions for all road users

    Burry Stander, an Olympic mountain biker who tragically died after being hit by a car while out training on January 3, will live on through The Burry Stander Foundation, which has been created in memory of his life.

    The main goals of the foundation are to bring about lasting change in cycling safety through legislation, assisting other worthy initiatives and raising awareness. In short, if its founders have their way, the death of a cyclist or a runner on South African roads would become the exception rather than the near daily occurrence it is at the moment.

    Stander's wife Cherise Stander will be personally involved in driving the foundation. "I just need to focus on picking up the pieces right now, and then I intend dedicating my energy on the memory of Burry through the Foundation and what it stands for," Cherise Stander said.

    Zoon Cronjé, one of the individuals driving the foundation, said that it is not trying to reinvent the wheel. "Our aim is definitely not just to try and insure road safety for cyclists. The legislation we are going to work towards getting approved by the government will insure safety for all road users - cyclists, runners pedestrians, motor cyclists, motorists, taxi drivers as well as truck drivers," Cronjé said.

    The Burry Stander Foundation's immediate aims are to drive a nationwide petition to petitions to government at mass rides in Cape Town and Johannesburg; assist the drive to pass the 1.5m passing rule into law; and fight to change broader legislation.

    "We aim to pass legislation as in certain European countries where the lowest form of transport carries the highest importance. It goes as follows: pedestrian, cyclist, motorbike, car, minibus, bus, truck," Cronje said.

    "If a motorbike hits a pedestrian, the motorbike is...

  • IMBA shares Fat Bike best practices

    A few riders were seen on really fat tires
    Article published:
    January 10, 2013, 20:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Snow biking a new option for many Fat Bikers

    With the rise of Fat Bikes, or mountain bikes specially designed to accommodate very fat tires for off-road use, more cyclists are venturing out on trails, especially snow covered trails for both rides and races. Like skiing, some Fat Bikers travel on groomed trails at ski resorts while others go into the backcountry. Hence, the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has released "Fat Bike Best Practices" to help riders in the growing cycling discipline share and enjoy the trails.

    For riding on snow, IMBA recommends bikes with tires wider than 3.7 inches with less than 10psi of pressure. Fat Bikes should not leave a rut deeper than one inch in snow and Fat Bikers should have land manager permission before riding on any trails.

    The best practices for riding on Nordic trails, snowmobile trails and in the backcountry are listed below.

    Best practices for riding on Nordic trails

    - Only ride at ski areas that allow and encourage biking.

    - Yield to all other users when riding. Skiers don't have brakes but you do!

    - Ride on the firmest part of the track.

    - Do not ride on or in the classic tracks.

    - Leave room for skiers to pass (don't ride side-by-side with all of your buddies blocking
    the full trail).

    - Allow the track time to set up after grooming and before riding.

    - Beware of alternative days for bikes and for skiers.

    - Only ride a purpose-built fat bike, not any old mountain bike. Tire tread must be wider
    than 3.7 inches.

    - Be an ambassador for the sport: stay polite, educate other riders, discourage bad behavior and follow the rules.

    - Help out and get involved by joining your local Nordic club.

    - Donate money for trail grooming.

    Best practices for riding on snowmobile trails

    - When riding on snowmobile trails, use a front white blinker and rear red blinker at all times. Wear...

  • Hometown favorite Laird among aims for victory in Canterbury

    Christchurch mountain biker Amy Laird will race in her hometown this weekend.
    Article published:
    January 11, 2013, 3:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Kiwi downhill mountain bikers fight back in next national series round this weekend

    Kiwi downhill mountain bikers will look to get one back off the British riders this weekend at round two of the New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup series at Mt Hutt in Canterbury.

    In the opening round of the series in Bluff last weekend, both the elite men's and women's races were won by visiting British riders, Bernard Kerr and Jess Stone; both of whom will be on the start line in Canterbury this weekend.

    Christchurch rider Amy Laird will be racing in her hometown, following a third placing in Bluff last week, and is hoping that local knowledge can give her the edge over the competition. "I just think I need to do pretty much the same as last time but keep it clean this time. I had a crash on the second corner in Bluff so just need to fix that," said Laird.

    "I hear they've made some changes to the track at Mt Hutt and the guys out there have been working pretty hard to make sure the track is in top condition.

    "I just need to go out and see what happens really. You always want to win when you're racing, that's everyone's goal obviously, but I was happy with my top three placing in Invercargill so we will see what happens."

    The 30-year-old has a great amount of respect for her competitors and is optimistic but realistic about her chances of winning on Sunday. "Jess Stone is over from England and is probably by far the favourite. She's a top 10 World Cup rider who is down here for our summer's racing," said Laird, who has raced cross country, downhill and more recently, endurance mountain bike events.

    "Alanna Columb is another girl that's riding really well at the moment. She came second last weekend and has a good motocross background so will probably be one of the top riders."

    Laird's fiancé Cam Cole will also be in action this weekend in the elite men's race, having finished second behind British rider Kerr in...

  • Buys signed by Scott Sports Group

    Philip Buys, pictured here during the 2012 MTN Crater Cruise Marathon, has been signed as a fully-sponsored racer by the Scott Sports Group for 2013.
    Article published:
    January 12, 2013, 16:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    Full sponsorship for rising South African cross country star

    London Olympian and current African cross country mountain bike champion, Philip Buys, will race in 2013 as a fully sponsored member of Scott Sports Group.

    The announcement to support the 24-year-old South African was made by Brandon Els, Managing Director of Scott Sports Africa, a move that allows Buys to pursue his racing career with comprehensive backing.

    Buys was backed initially by Contego and then USN during 2012, a year in which he showed his potential with a 15th place finish at a round of the prestigious UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. He also won his first major title, claiming the African Continental Championship gold in Mauritius.

    "It's definitely a couple of steps up the ladder for me," said Buys. "The backing of USN was essentially support until I could find something bigger, which is what the Scott contract is. It is a full sponsorship, which includes a salary, bikes, gear and support in my quest to achieve my true potential."

    Buys was a regular second-place finisher to the late Burry Stander at most South African cross country races, but he closed the gap to Stander in 2012 when he made a switch to Stander's coach, Dr Jeroen Swart and was subsequently rewarded with the second berth for South Africa alongside Stander at the London Olympics.

    "Burry set the pace and created a path for the rest of us to follow. He taught me so much in 2012, especially in the build-up to the Olympics," said Buys after having attended Stander's funeral on Thursday afternoon. "Were it not for Burry's ability to earn UCI points with his amazing talent, I would not have been able to compete at the Olympics."

    "The best way I can honour Burry is to pursue my career and take my opportunities with the same passion and commitment that he did. He was a true professional in every way and I aim to follow that example as best I can with Scott's backing," said Buys.

    Buys's primary goal for 2013 is a high finish at the UCI Cross...

  • Hermida readies for third Andalucia Bike Race

    Jose Hermida (Multivan) riding the difficult Mont Sainte-Anne World Cup course with ease
    Article published:
    January 12, 2013, 20:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard aims to defend title

    Former cross country world champion Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) will return to the Andalucia Bike Race for the third time in late February. Each year, the Spaniard has raced and served as the event ambassador.

    The Spanish mountain bike stage race, which starts on February 24 and ends on March 1, will be Hermida's first race of the season. "It will be a great event to start the season with. The Andalucia Bike Race will help me to tune my shape up for the World Cups. A multi-stage race is a great workout."

    Unlike in other recent years, World Cup racing does not start in 2013 until mid-May.

    The Multivan-Merida rider is returning as the defending co-champion. He won in 2012 with teammate Rudi van Houts.

    "I am very happy to be there again and try to defend last year's victory," said Hermida. "This is something that motivates me a lot. I am looking forward to enjoying the trails, tracks and views that Córdoba, Priego, Bedmar, Mancha Real and Jaén offer."

    When asked what he thought about the changes to this year's race, he said, "Organizers will surprise us for sure, just as they did in previous editions. Rudi and I will have tough competition."