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

Date published:
October 12, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Marathon Worlds qualifier held on Asian soil for first time

    Thomas Dietsch in the marathon
    Article published:
    September 27, 2013, 1:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Langkawi hosts UCI marathon world series event on Saturday

    History will be made in Langkawi in Malaysia on Saturday when a qualifier to the prestigious UCI MTB Marathon World Championships is held for the first time on Asian soil. The world's top riders will wage battle to book their places for the marathon world championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa next June.

    With 20 direct tickets to the world championships available from the Langkawi race, the gloves will be off when the race is flagged off at the Oriental Village this Saturday. The racers can also collect points for the world championships, with the top 50 riders on the overall general classification at the end of the qualifying period earning the right to ride in Pietermaritzburg.

    The individual general marathon series ranking is drawn up on the basis of the points won by each rider. The top 40 men score points from 40 to one point while the top 20 women scores from 20 to one.

    Among the top names in the world mountain bike racing scene who will be competing in Langkawi are Thomas Dietsch, Maxime Marrote, Stephane Tempier, Steffen Thum and Simon Gegenheimer in the men's section.

    The 39-year-old Frenchman Dietsch, riding for Team Bulls, is best known for winning the 2007 UCI World Cup title. His compatriot Marrote comes to Langkawi in good form after his excellent fourth place finish at this year's world championships in South Africa in June.

    Another Frenchman who is among the favourites to shine in Langkawi this weekend is Tempier, who came in an impressive ninth during the same world meet in Pitermaritzburg. The French contenders may be the ones to beat in Langkawi, but do not write off the challenge posed by the German duo Thum and Gegenheimer, whose expertise are as different as day and night.

    Long-distance specialist...

  • Nash postpones retirement

    Katerina Nash (Luna) racing in Downieville
    Article published:
    September 27, 2013, 19:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Luna star limits plans for international racing in 2014

    Mountain bike and 'cross racer Katerina Nash (Luna) has decided not to retire at the end of the 2013 season, but will continue racing in 2014, although she will focus on domestic races and limit her international travel and competition.

    "I have made my decision. I am not retiring!" said Nash in a letter posted on the Luna Team's site. "It has been a super amazing 12 years with the Luna Pro Team, and I'm staying on for year number 13. There will be big changes ahead of me for sure, but let's start from the beginning."

    Throughout this season, many including Nash herself, thought this would be her final one.

    "Last year, I decided that 2013 would be my last season of international racing. So this relieved a little bit of the pressure and I just had fun racing and riding my bike. But now this year turned out to be my best season yet. Maybe the relaxed approach translated into good results and maybe it was just another year of consistent training added to many years of hard training."

    "That's the thing about endurance racing. If you are healthy, you can keep improving and keep getting great results. I have been lucky that way, but I've never forgotten other dreams. For last couple of years, I have been thinking about those other things more and more."

    Nash won her first-ever mountain bike World Cup round in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada this August, at age 35.

    Unlike many athletes, who switch between teams during their careers, Nash has enjoyed a long tenure with Luna. "I have spent an incredible 12 seasons with the Luna Pro Team and traveled the world with a group of amazing people. We fought...

  • 2014 US Mountain Bike National Championships dates announced

    It was quite hot at the starting line at Bear Creek Resort
    Article published:
    September 28, 2013, 20:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Five locations hosting championships for various disciplines

    USA Cycling announced the dates and locations of its 2014 mountain bike national championships earlier this week.

    The first mountain bike nationals of 2014 are scheduled for June 14-15, when the country's finest endurance riders will be in Gallup, New Mexico, to contest the USA Cycling 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships.

    America's top gravity riders will return to Angel Fire, New Mexico, from June 20-22, to compete in the USA Cycling Gravity Mountain Bike National Championships.

    Marathoners get their turn at the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships, held again in Sun Valley, Idaho, on July 5.

    The USA Cycling Cross Country Mountain Bike National Championships will return to Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania from July 17-20.

    Finally, the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships will be held October 24-26 at a to-be-determined location. The location will be announced soon.

  • World champion Minnaar sidelined with knee injury

    World Champion Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
    Article published:
    September 30, 2013, 21:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Surgery still possible for South African mountain biker

    During the final round of the UCI Downhill World Cup in Leogang, Austria last weekend, world champion Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) suffered a knee injury during practice that put him out of the race and put an end to any more racing during the rest of this season.

    "I was coming to a section in practice and my back wheel slipped off a log," said Minnaar. "I tried to run it out, and I didn't really hit the floor. I was waiting for a gap in riders to go back up to get my bike and when I leaned forward to cross the track my knee flipped backwards."

    "I rode down the side of the track to the pits knowing I had done something pretty bad. I've torn the meniscus and ACL, and as far as I know I'll need surgery. I'm in conversations with my doctor in South Africa who is studying my MRI and we are exploring options for surgery."

    Performance enhancement coach Lawrence Van Lingen said, "The most likely scenario is that Greg hyper extended (bent backward) his knee with a sideways, and or twist force, while trying to save the crash. This resulted in a near full rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament and a lengthwise tear in his medial meniscus (knee cartilage). This makes the knee unstable as the anterior cruciate helps stabilize the knee, which is why Greg's knee gave out whilst trying to walk back to the track."

    Minnaar's knee was immediately immobilized and supported after the accident. He was taken for MRI scans to confirm the diagnosis. So far, he has made excellent progress with minimal pain and swelling, however there is still a strong possibility of surgery.

    Despite this, Minnaar and Van Lingen are confident that he'll be able to make a full recovery and return to racing by the start of the 2014 season.

  • NICA High School Cycling News Round-up - October 2, 2013

    A historic first for mountain biking in Tennesse: the junior varsity girls’ podium at the inaugural race in Tullahoma, September 22. Left to right: Namkha Norbu (St. Andrews-Sewanee), Rachael Freeman (Tenn. League), Natascha Heckers (University School).
    Article published:
    October 02, 2013, 21:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Interest in NICA grows, athletes at Worlds, and meet Kaylee Blevins

    And the new league is...Georgia! September is always an exciting month for NICA, with the Interbike bicycle industry show where the new league for the coming year is announced.

    The Atlanta-based Georgia league is headed up by Dan Brooks, and very ably supported by 24-hour mountain bike stars Eddie and Namrita O'Dea, of 55Nine Performance, who in recent years have established themselves as prominent sports trainers and nutrition experts in the south east.

    NICA's gathering at Interbike also included a meeting of representatives from all 10 leagues to share best practices, discuss issues, and examine the challenges and opportunities that come with being part of a fast-growing national organization.

    Only a day after the Georgia announcement in Las Vegas, NICA staff traveled to help launch the Tennessee league, which is run by another accomplished bike racer, Kat Williams.

    NICA's executive director, Austin McInerny, said, "It is so encouraging to see people who have raced bicycles at a high level wanting to give back and develop the sport."

    Also contributing to the breathlessness in the NICA office was a flurry of attention by large non-cycling publications, most notably Outside Magazine, which ran a feature article on high school cycling, and at the Georgia launch at Interbike, LA Times reporter Roy Wallack showed up after getting the inside track from his nephew who, it just happens, has spent the past year racing on the Berkeley High School team.

    "When these really large publications start showing an interest, that's when you know you're really on the way," said Austin McInerny.

  • Defending champs Bell and Combrinck return to Cape Pioneer Trek

    The peloton racing in the Cape Pioneer Trek
    Article published:
    October 07, 2013, 21:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Buys, Beukes, Lill and Keey among stacked field of men's favorites

    With virtually every top South African male marathon racer entered, the 2013 Cape Pioneer Trek mountain bike stage race promises to deliver a fierce showdown when it rolls through its weeklong route in the Western Cape later this month.

    The start list in the men's event includes the two South African teams that duked it out for the African Leader's Jersey at this year's Cape Epic - the Scott Factory Racing pair of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes and the Cannondale Blend duo of Darren Lill and Charles Keey.

    Ultimately, Buys and Beukes claimed the title and finished sixth overall. Their battle was made easier when Lill fell ill, which saw the Cannondale Blend rider change his focus from trying to win the prestigious jersey to just trying to finish each of the last four stages.

    "The Cape Epic was obviously a huge disappointment for us, but the Cape Pioneer Trek is our major objective for the second half of the year and we are going there to try and win overall," said Lill, who had recently been discharged from hospital after sustaining a back injury in a crash at the weekend.

    "Hopefully I'll be fully recovered soon because I've been in good form and in a good space mentally. I'm looking forward to the new challenges of the Cape Pioneer Trek, which I've not yet done before. It seems like all the top South African teams will be there so it will ensure some tight racing," added Lill.

    In the six months since the Cape Epic, Lill and Keey have only been training for and racing marathon and multi-day events, while Buys has been focussing on cross country racing, competing on the World Cup circuit. Beukes, meanwhile, has raced most of the national marathon series events. Both Buys and Beukes represented South Africa at the recent UCI Cross Country World Championships in Pietermaritzburg.

    Defending champions, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (Bells Cycling Specialized) will return to defend their title. The pair weren't...

  • Langvad teams up with Kleinhans for Cape Pioneer Trek

    The 2011 women's champions, Ischen Stopforth (front) and teammate Catherine Williamson, finished second in 2012. Stopforth returns to the 2013 Cape Pioneer Trek from 20-26 October with new teammate, Robyn de Groot, in attempt to reclaim the title.
    Article published:
    October 09, 2013, 20:15 BST
    Cycling News

    South African stage race draws international field

    The fifth edition of the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race is attracting some of the biggest names in the world of women's marathon mountain bike racing and looks set to become the most competitive edition of the South African stage race yet.

    In addition to the event's attractive route, which has evolved from a brutal survival test into a well-rounded, stimulating race route, a R30,000 total prize money boost from new sponsor, Khombisa Media, to the women's category, has led to a notable increase in the depth and strength of this division.

    Confirmed to start the prestigious race on October 20 are the following pairings: Annika Langvad and Ariane Kleinhans; Esther Suss and Jane Nuessli; and top South African pairings Ischen Stopforth and Robyn de Groot and Yolandi de Villiers and Yolande Speedy.

    Langvad is the current Danish cross country champion and is a two-time marathon world champion, having claimed the prestigious title in 2011 and 2012. Her partnership with Kleinhans is expected to be a formidable one, based on their combined pedigree. Kleinhans is the current Swiss marathon champion and is a multiple winner of the Cape Epic mixed category with her South African husband, Erik.

    Langvad and Kleinhans, who will race as Team RE:CM DaVinci at the Cape Pioneer Trek, were fourth and seventh respectively at the 2013 UCI Marathon World Championships in Austria in June.

    "I met Annika at the marathon world championships in Austria this year. After seeing the strong women's field for the Cape Pioneer Trek I knew I needed a powerful partner, so I asked if she'd be keen and she agreed," said Kleinhans.

    "Annika did a stage race in Andalusia in Spain this year, but the Cape Pioneer Trek will be her first stage race in South Africa. She is an incredibly strong rider. I will have my hands full trying to stay with her, but I think we will make a good team on and off the bike," said Kleinhans.


  • Kerschbaumer reflects on a successful season

    U23 World Champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (TX Active Bianchi)
    Article published:
    October 12, 2013, 0:55 BST
    Cycling News

    U23 world champion optimistic heading toward 2016 Olympics

    Current under 23 cross country mountain bike world champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (TX Active-Bianchi Team) recently spoke of his path to winning the rainbow jersey. He noted that a strong body, mind and solid team support helped him achieve the Worlds victory.

    2013 wasn't one of those seasons where everything was perfect from the start. Kerschbaumer took some time to find his groove. "I wasn't in my best shape in the early season, but I was strong in training, I had the same feelings that I do now, but I just could not convert it to results in races," he said. "My team's trust helped me, I was strong from the 12th spot at World Cup's round in Val di Sole onward."

    Kerchbaumer then claimed the Italian national title and got fifth at the Vallnord World Cup, a result he said was important because "I realized I could compete with the best élite bikers, when I'm at my best. That really boosted my self-confidence."

    When the big day came in August at Worlds, Kerschbaumer was nervous, but ready.

    "Every race is full of hitches, and the Worlds are more and more difficult than the others, but I really liked the course and in Pietermaritzburg, where I had won in 2011, and finished as runner-up last year," he said.

    "I had planned to attack on the longest climb, but I managed to escape in the first kilometers. I kept my countryman Braidot's pace for two laps, than he crashed and I kept my pace until the last lap. When it started raining, I started to manage my lead."

    It wasn't just about feeling good, but also about having his head straight.

    "You need a strong mind to win, in every case. If you haven't a strong mind, your legs go slow. Furthermore, you need to be serene: you risk missing...