Derek Zandstra (3 Rox Racing) has been racing as one of the top North American men on the UCI World Cup circuit this season. After three rounds, he's ranked in 25th, the second North American after Todd Wells of the USA.
At round one in Pietermaritzburg, Zandstra finished 34th, 7:28 behind winner Nino Schurter despite a big crash. Next in Dalby, he was the top Canadian in 27th, 6:00 behind winner Jaroslav Kulhavy, and at the most recent round in Offenburg, he finished 26th at 4:56 behind winner Julien Absalon.
Offenburg was Zandstra's best-ever European World Cup finish, and he was also the top placing North American at the German round. He managed that despite a flat on the first lap that required a stop in the tech zone.
Now, the Canadian will get a rest from racing on the international circuit, during this month-long break between World Cups.
Former gravity World Cup winner and four-time gravity world champion Brian Lopes wasn't someone you would expect to see on the start line of the eliminators at the Dalby and Offenburg cross country mountain bike World Cups, but he was there participating in a style of mountain bike racing that the UCI is trying to grow.
Lopes was spotted earlier this year racing several short tracks in the US and he offered his comments on both types of racing. "For me, the eliminator is better than the short track physically. I think they are both exciting," said Lopes to Cyclingnews. "I love watching short track back home, it's usually good racing and one of the best events to watch."
The UCI is working on adding eliminator-style events to more cross country events and there is talk that it could become another World Cup event. Unlike a short track, which features a mass start and lasts 12-20 minutes, an eliminator features qualifying followed by heats of four or six riders, similarly to a four cross style event, but on more level terrain.
"If the eliminator becomes a World Cup event, you'll see a lot of guys doing it. It's just like with four cross and dual slalom - when those became World Cup events, we had a lot of guys like myself who specialized in them," said Lopes. "I'm sure there is a whole slew of guys out there who are built machines for this kind of racing and they just need to learn the technical aspects."
Lopes described the kind of rider who he think would excel at eliminator-style races. "Somebody who has a good sprint. Someone who can jump out of turns from a slow start. That's my strong point, getting up to speed. What I'm not good at is keeping it on up a climb. As courses get more techincal, technical skill plays a role. Someone who is smart and has road and crit experience would be good. It's also important to be able to recover well between each heat."
A huge field is set to start the 2011 Tour Divide on Friday, June 10. Seventy racers are on the start list for beginning at the northern end in Banff, Alberta, Canada, while another 18 are planning on starting from the southern terminus at Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
Of those signed up in advance, only 10 are veterans; the rest are rookies. Notably, five-time winner and well known Divide racer Matt Lee is not listed on the Tour Divide 2011 start list.
The Tour Divide is a self-supported annual race covering 2745 miles (4418km) along the Continental Divide in the US and part of Canada. It requires no entry fee or formal registration. There are no prizes for finishing. Riders call in to a toll-free number en route to leave voicemails with their status updates. They are also tracked in real time by spot trackers.
In 2010, Lee won the seventh edition of the Tour Divide in a time of 17 days, 15 hours and 10 minutes.
To follow the progress of racers, visit the race website, including the live tracker at http://tourdivide.org.
Tour Divide Start List
Starting from Banff, Alberta, Canada
Rider Name (Country) Team
Markley Anderson (Charlottesville, Virginia) Rookie
New cross country stage included in second-year mountain bike stage race
The 2011 Brasil Ride mountain bike stage race is set for its second edition on October 23-29. The six-day contest will take racers from Chapada Diamantina to Bahia.
Former three-time Vuelta a Espana winner Roberto Heras is among the riders confirmed for the Brasil Ride.
"The athletes can measure their strength handlebar to handlebar with the world's top riders like Heras," said Roma.
Heras won the Titan Desert race this season - his third overall victory at the Morrocan race. He will race in Brazil with Portuguese rider Luis Leão Pinto, a three-time national marathon champion and runner-up in the La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
New for this year is a cross country stage on the fourth day of the race near the city of Rio de Contas. It will feature a course of about 8km, and racers will do three laps. Unlike the rest of the race, which will be done as teams, racers will compete individually in the cross country stage, but the results will come from the average of the two riders on each team.
According to the organizer Mario Roma, this is an opportunity to test the performance of individual competitors. "The Brazilian athletes will race alongside the world elite and see if the differences are on the start gate or on the legs and techniques for everyone."
The remaining stages will be in the usual marathon style and will average between 80 and 100km per day.
Riders from 14 countries - Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, United States of America, Canada, Poland, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Belgian, South Africa - and more than 13 Brazilian states are registered thus far.
Brazilian racers will compete for a white jersey, which will go to the best Brazilian team. The best riders overall will get to wear yellow (men), orange (women), blue (masters) and green (mixed).
"Due to the large participation of athletes and international media, we have created the white jersey...
The Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) has set the locations and approximate dates for the 2012, 2013 and Canadian mountain bike national championships.
The 2012 Canadian downhill mountain bike nationals will be held in July at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, by Gestev Events while the cross country nationals will also be run in July, but in Saint-Félicien by the Club de Vélo de Montagne Vélo2Max de Saint-Félicien.
The 2013 and 2014 Canadian cross country national championships will be held in July in Orillia, Ontario, and will be run by Hardwood Ski and Bike and Pulse Racing.
The selection of the sites was finalized by the Events Committee of the CCA, chaired by Mr. Kevin MacCuish, following the reception of candidature bids from various local organizing committees and provincial sport organisations throughout the country.
"We are pleased with the number of applications we have received for each Canadian Championships. The Canadian Championships remain the top domestic events for each cycling sports. The support we received by the local organizing committee and the Provincial Sport Organisation is crucial in the successful delivery of these events, and without them cycling would not be as strong as it is today," said Mathieu Boucher, Director of development at the Canadian Cycling Association.
Round three of Real Insurance series on for the weekend
On Sunday, June 19, the Currambene State Forest and surrounding trails near Jervis Bay are set to light up as the third round of the Real Insurance XCM Series comes to town.
In the 100K'er Mountain Bike Marathon, defending race champion Jason English will go head to head with current series leader Ben Mather. English's knowledge of the course may pay dividends, but Mather is a strong bet to maintain his series lead. Another rider to watch is Matt Fleming, who went off course last year and DNFed. He has a point to prove this time around.
The ladies will be leaving nothing in the tank after Vanina Vergoz overtook Jenny Fay for the series lead at round 2, the NSW Dirtworks - a race missed by Fay due to injury.
Over 900 riders will make the annual pilgrimage to Callala Beach for the fast-growing event. The allure of fast smooth trails, beautiful scenery and easy access from both Sydney and Canberra are incentives for many.
A week-long mountain bike festival of riding and racing
The TweedLove bike week got underway in the Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders today. The action kicked off with the Glentress Seven seven-hour marathon mountain bike race, and the festival will conclude next Sunday, June 19.
TweedLove is again being organised by the local community - everyone from Scottish Borders Council and Lothian and Borders Police to local businesses, cycling clubs and organisations and biking enthusiasts. Their enthusiasm, generous support and community spirit makes TweedLove a unique event.
The many informal ride outs and guided rides on both fat tyres and skinny wheels, hosted by passionate local riders throughout the week, encapsulate the true spirit and ethos of the festival - a special week of bike riding and good times on and off the bike in the Tweed Valley.
TweedLove has a packed programme of free and paid events being staged across the valley. Following funding awards from EventScotland and Scottish Borders Council, some major new events have been added to last year's busy roster of popular open races, big guided rides (both on and off road), a film night (including a film-making competition), a dual slalom and barbecue and a series of informal ride-outs, where local riders host visitors on some of their favourite (and lesser known) trails.
The 2011 festival includes the following events:
The Glentress Seven on June 11: An endurance mountain bike event combining the best of the man-made and natural trails with loads of normally off-limits tracks and some specially built sections.
Skinny Tweed at The Hub in Glentress on June 12: A free guide-supported road ride round a beautiful circuit of quiet country roads, with a stop for food and a sociable demeanour. 44 mile route.
Local Ride-Outs in Peebles (women only) on June 12; Innerleithen on June 13; Selkirk on June 14; and Peebles on June 15 & 16: Local riders share...
Pua Mata and Amy Dombroski were added to the roster that will represent the United States at the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Montebelluna, Italy on June 26.
Dombroski and Mata each submitted strong petitions requesting their inclusion on the team.
Dombroski (Crank Brothers Race Club) has contested two of the 2011 UCI World Cup Mountain Bike events in Yorkshire, Great Britain and Offenburg, Germany this spring.
Mata (Team Sho-Air) leads USA Cycling's Pro Ultra Endurance Tour (UET) standings after winning the Spa City Extreme 6-Hour Mountain Bike Classic in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on March 12.
Mata and Dombroski join the team that was named on May 25, consisting of Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing), Blake Harlan (Jamis Factory), Michael McCalla (Magura) and Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon). Looney was named to the team but will not be making the trip to Italy to race due to the expense.
US team for marathon Worlds (revised)
Men Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) Michael McCalla (Magura) Blake Harlan (Jamis Factory)
Women Amy Dombroski (Crank Brothers Race Club) Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon) Pua Mata (Team Sho-Air)