Six of top ten ranked women in the world will be at the start
Six of the top 10 ranked women in the world will line up for the start of the first round of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, the Afxentia mountain bike stage race, starting on February 27. Former Olympic cross country champion Sabine Spitz (Haibike), two-time marathon world champion Annika Langvad (Specialized), former cross country world champion Maja Wloszczowska (Giant Pro XC) and eliminator world champion Alexandra Engen (Ghost) are among those who will take to the start.
Spitz, who won the 2013 World Cup round in Andorra is coming with her teammates Adelheid Morath and Kathrin Stirnemann. Last year, Morath was third at Afxentia while Stirnemann went on to win a round of the eliminator World Cup.
2010 cross country world champion Maja Wloszczwoska (Giant Pro XC) regularly made the podium last year. She'll be joined by teammate Jolanda Neff, a two-time U23 world champion.
Ghost is sending Engen, who has traditionally used the race as early season training with success. Katrin Leumann, Elisabeth Osl will also be there for the Ghost team. Leumann won the Sunshine Cup overall in 2013.
Another former Sunshine Cup overall winner, Langvad, is using the race to prepare for the upcoming Cape Epic mountain bike stage race. Her teammate Tereza Hurikova will return to Cyprus, too.
Other top riders include nine-time world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), Linda Indergand (Strüby-BiXS), Nathalie Schneitter (Sui, Colnago-Südtirol), Blaza Klemencic (Feenstra Felt) and Yana Belomoyna (Betch.nl Superior Brentjens).
Four-time Cape Epic winner Karl Platt and former Swiss mountain bike champion Urs Huber of the Bulls Team will participate together in this year's Cape Epic in late March. The demanding race, now in its 11th year, will kick off with the prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate on Sunday, March 23 and finish eight days later on Sunday, March 30 at the Lourensford Wine Estate.
Platt, 36, is one of only nine riders to have completed all 10 races. He stood on the podium in eight of these, and won four times - sharing the limelight with Christoph Sauser as the two most successful riders at the race. The German credits three out of four of those victories to the legendary partnership he had with fellow German Stephan Sahm. Even with such big shoes to fill, his new teammate Urs Huber is more than up to the task. Platt has also won the TransAlp six times and was the German marathon champion in 2008.
Huber, 28, won the bronze medal in the marathon world championships in Italy in 2008, the European Championships in Germany in 2008 and the Swiss Championships in 2009 and 2012. He is also a three-time winner of the Grand Raid (2008, 2011 and 2013). He won the iXS Swiss Bike Classic three times (2007 to 2009) and is a two-time winner of the Crocodile Trophy in Australia in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, he was the Swiss marathon champion and TransAlp winner in the same year. This will be his fifth Cape Epic, of which he completed four since he broke his arm in 2011.
"I think we had a very successful partnership last year and look forward to this year's Cape Epic," said Platt. "It's all about the team. I can't remember if we have any weaknesses, and if we do, I'm not going to tell."
Huber noted that their second place last year was a sign that they are a good time. "After our first experience together, we now know that we can be a very...
Racers flock to international enduro series in its second year
The Enduro World Series welcomes the return of the champions from its inaugural 2013 series, including Jerome Clementz and Tracy Moseley. In addition, a corps d'elite of World Cup downhill and four cross riders with 48 world championship titles between them - Richie Rude, Fabien Barel, Anneke Beerten, Loic Bruni, Anne Caroline Chausson, Ruaridh Cunningham, Jared Graves, Brian Lopes, Greg Minnaar, Tracy Moseley, Steve Peat, Michal Prokop, Emmeline Ragot and Joost Wichman - will race in the 2014 Enduro World Series.
The series is proving so popular this year that registration has already been filled for the Finale Ligure, Crankworx Whistler and Valloire rounds - all in record time. Even Scotland's TweedLove Festival and Chile's Nevados de Chillan, both new events in the series for 2014, have filled up.
So far, of the 39 nations represented across the seven round series, almost 30% of participants hail from the United Kingdom, twice as many as the next most involved nations (US - 15%, France - 12%, Italy - 12% and Canada - 10%.)
And while 2014 saw an increase in the number of official teams committing to the Series, an impressive number of privateers have also signed up for all the rounds.
EWS Managing Director Chris Ball is gratified to see the huge demand for places. "Thanks to the pioneering efforts of our partners at Super Enduro and Tribe Events, enduro mountain biking has deep roots in Italy and France and a long tradition of events filling up within hours of registration. But it's been amazing to see that happen in Canada, North and South America and the UK, as well. With as many amateur racers as elite riders signed up, the Series is striking a good balance, and we’re pleased to see such healthy growth and enthusiasm in the enduro mountain bike community from all around the world."
With the first round less than two months away, on April 19-20, Montenbaik Enduro's Director, Matias Del Solar Goldsmith is busy...
US Cup kicks off in Austin, Texas with star-studded field
Set in the heart of the Texas Hill Country and a just outside the cultural mecca of Austin, Texas, the Mellow Johnny’s Classic is the first stop on the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group. The new four-race series is the richest purse in cross country racing, and all four events will be sanctioned by the UCI as Category HC or Category 1 events.
A star-studded pro field will line up on Saturday for the first major cross country race of the North American season. Three-time winner Max Plaxton (Cannondale Factory Racing) and two-time winner Georgia Gould (Luna) top the list of men's and women's favorites.
In the elite men's race, Plaxton will have to watch out for fellow Canadian Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) and Americans Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) and Todd Wells (Specialized Racing). All four of them have previously proved themselves to be fast in the early season races. Last year's winner, Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) nipped Bishop and Wells at the line in a sprint finish, but the Australian is not expected this year due to the Mellow Johnny's Classic being sandwiched between the third round of the Australian Mountain Bike National Series and the Australian National Championships.
"The Mellow Johnny's Classic always feels like the first real test of the season," said Plaxton. "You get to see exactly where you are with your fitness. I'm looking forward to going for another win at Mellow Johnny's this weekend.
A major unknown among the men is former cross country national champion Sam Schultz, who will be returning to racing after a year mostly off due to injury. He'll be making his debut for the Sho-Air/Cannondale team.
New cash prize payout for enduro classification winners
The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSEpic) mountain bike stage race has refined and expanded its enduro competition for the 2014 edition on May 25-31. With an average of three to four timed segments per day this year, the TSEpic is more than a cross country race; it's a backcountry, multi-day enduro experience, too.
More frequent enduro segments and cash prizes are what's on tap for the race in central Pennsylvania. Starting with the individual time trial stage on day 1, week-long competitors will enjoy nearly 25 timed enduro segments against which to test their descending mettle - double the number of segments in the 2013 edition of the Trans-Sylvania Epic.
"What we saw last year was that everyone, regardless of whether they were gunning for the podium or just vacationing at our mountain bike 'summer camp', loved the enduros," said Trans-Sylvania Epic Race Director Mike Kuhn. "There is only more fun to go around this year."
New for the 2014 seven-day race, the men's and women's enduro classification winners will take home a cool $1,000 each. The TSEpic will also again offer the "Everyone Else's Enduro" with awards going to top enduro rider across the duo, Epic Team, singlespeed, and masters categories.
More refined enduro courses will serve to further differentiate the cross country-focused competitors from those who get to going fast when it goes down. The Trans-Sylvania Epic showcases an incredible range of terrain on which enduro racers can shine.
Akin to the points leader's jersey or the sprint leader's jersey in major road races like the Tour de France, the TSEpic's week-long enduro competition gives trail specialists a chance to dance in the spotlight of the race's national and international media coverage. Rather than racing hard both up and down the ridges and valleys of central Pennsylvania, enduro competitors and enthusiasts can choose a less taxing trip to the top and let it all hang out on the way down. Riders...
Cross country world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo Racing) will team up with Philip Buys to race the 2014 Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa from March 23 to 30. Although both have previously done the race, the Swiss - South African duo will compete together for the first time.
Schurter, 27, is a three-time World Cup overall winner and has 11 World Cup round wins to his name. He is also a two-time Olympic medallist while Buys, 24, is the current African cross country champion with four Cape Epic races already under his belt.
Schurter said, "We're racing together for the first time, and I'm looking forward to it. Philip is a great guy and a great talent. His experiences on stage races in the South African heat and my experiences in cross country races will make us super strong. Our goal is to win the race. You always need a little bit of luck to successfully complete the Cape Epic."
Honored to compete with one of the fastest riders on the planet, Buys said, "I'm slightly nervous, but my excitement overpowers the nervousness. And I feel confident! We have great support, ride the best equipment and are training hard, so we're making sure our chances are good."
The two have done some training camps together in Stellenbosch to prepare themselves.
"My training is different to that of previous years. I'm focusing more on stage races in the first half of the year, so I'm training more on long distance," said Schurter, who will also race two road stage races: the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie.
Buys had made the Cape Epic the highlight of his season. "In previous years, the Cape Epic just formed part of my buildup for the rest of the season....
Elite men's and women's cross country races open US Cup Pro Series
Set in the heart of the Texas Hill Country and a just outside the cultural mecca of Austin, Texas, the Mellow Johnny’s Classic is the first stop on the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group. The new four-race series is the richest purse in cross-country racing, and all four events will be sanctioned by the UCI as Category HC or Category 1 events.
Saturday, March 1 Mellow Johnny's Classic streaming schedule (all times US CST) 12:00 - 12:15 Elite Women cross country call-up 12:15 - 14:15 Elite Women cross country race (Live Webcast) 14:30 - 14:45 Elite Men cross country call-up 14:45 - 16:45 Elite Men cross country race (Live Webcast)
USA Cycling on Friday announced the addition of the enduro races to the US cross country mountain bike national championships, beginning in 2015 in Bend, Oregon.
As a response to feedback USA Cycling received from competitors and the mountain bike advisory committee, enduro races will replace the super D competition at these events.
Further feedback prompted USA Cycling to discontinue the 24-hour Mountain Bike Nationals, also beginning in 2015. This year's event in Gallup, New Mexico, scheduled for June 14-15, will be the last such national championship.
"We have seen a trend with our endurance mountain bike members away from 24-hour racing and more toward marathon racing," Vice President of National Events Micah Rice said.
"Along similar lines, we have also noticed a shift from free-ride and super-D events toward enduro, so we are making a few adjustments in the events that we offer at our national championships. We are very excited to be offering enduro national championships in Bend and the courses at our marathon mountain bike national championships will be tougher than ever over the next few years."