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MTB News & Racing Round-up, September 10, 2010

Date published:
September 14, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Brazil hosting masters mountain bike world championships

    Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjå competing in Brazil in 2004
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 10:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Age group races happening this weekend

    Over 550 mountain bikers from all over the world confirmed their participation on the UCI Master Mountain Bike Worlds, that will take part September 10 - 12 in Balneário Camboriú, in the South of Brazil.

    The majority of the racers are from South American countries. Host nation Brazil is fielding than 300 racers, but Argentina is sending 100 and Chile is sending 48 racers. There are also some riders from Europe, including 17 from Italy and 10 from France, as well as North America and Ocenia.

    Titles are up for grabs in seven age groups: 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59 and 60+.

    The venue has recently hosted a triple mountain bike World Cup in 2004, a downhill World Cup in 2005, and the Pan American Mountain Bike Championships in 2006. In 2004, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa and Jose Antonio Hermida won the gold medals in the cross country competitions at the event.

    The Federação Catarinense de Ciclismo is organizing the Masters World Championships with support from the Fundação Municipal de Esportes do município de Balneário Camboriú; the Secretaria de Estado de Turismo, Cultura e Esporte do Governo de Santa Catarina; the Prefeitura da cidade de Balneário Camboriú and the Secretaria do Meio Ambiente do município de Balneário Camboriú.

    For more information on the masters Worlds, visit

  • Van Der Heijden overcomes mid-season slump to win Worlds title

    Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands) rides toward victory
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 10:52 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Dutch junior mountain biker headed to Rabobank

    Michiel Van Der Heijden was having a season of ups and downs until last weekend at the mountain bike world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada. That's where the young Dutchman won the junior cross country title.

    Clad in his brand new rainbow jersey, Van Der Heijden said, "It's my first time (winning Worlds). It's fantastic. Everything was good from the warm up to the last lap."

    It was one of those days when the other riders didn't seem as fast. "I thought maybe it would be my day, but then by the second lap, I knew for sure it was my day."

    When an Italian rider made a mistake, Van Der Heijden capitalized on his second position and went for it. "I felt super as I got a little gap, and then it kept getting bigger. I knew that there weren't many people that could close the gap and catch me. That gave me even more energy and made me go faster and faster, though I wanted to save something for the last lap." He rode solo until the finish.

    Van Der Heijden had started the season well by competing in the junior races that are part of the World Cup circuit. He won the first three and had his sights set on his next goal.

    Then came the European Championships in July, where Van Der Heijden had a very frustrating race. "I was dropping off on the start loop. I couldn't get to the front of the race. It wasn't a good thing, but I learned a lot."

    "It was my decision then to take a break and refuel. I decided to aim for the Worlds." Van Der Heijden skipped final three World Cups at Val di Sole, Italy; Champery, Switzerland; and Windham, New York.

    "The Europeans were my last international race. It was a long time ago, so it was hard for me because when you don't race, you don't know where you stand against your competition."

    Van Den Heijden went into the world championship race uncertain of his own form, but well aware of his top challengers. "I knew them all from the World Cups, and I knew they...

  • Mathias Flückiger enjoys perfect season

    Mathias Flückiger (Switzerland)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 18:08 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Swiss rider celebrates World Cup overall and world championship wins

    Switzerland's Mathias Flückiger capped off a perfect season last weekend by winning the under 23 men's cross country race at the mountain bike world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada.

    "I've had a good season, and I finished it off well here at the world championships," said Flückiger. "I also won the Under 23 World Cup." He had secured that title the previous weekend in Windham, New York.

    "Last week, I was at the World Cup final, which isn't the best preparation for worlds, but I was able to win."

    Flückiger overcame a flat on the second lap during the race at Worlds. "When that happened, I thought maybe it was wasn't my day, then I found my rhythmn and I made an attack in the technical sections. I think my bike was a big advantage." Flückiger rode a 26-inch wheeled full suspension Trek, custom painted with Canadian flags.

    Fortunately, for Flückiger, the leak was a slow one and he could ride it until he reached the tech zone. "The front wheel was sketchy in corners until I got it changed. I lost some seconds on the way to the tech zone and then once I was in the tech zone getting a wheel swap. It was disappointing to me, but I was able to get back in the lead group."

    He had also crashed the previous day just before the infamous rock chute. He slammed his knee, but he said it didn't bother him on race day although it had curtailed his day-before-race training to just one lap of the race course.

    The Swiss dominated the Under 23 men's world championship race, sweeping all three podium spots.

    "We had no team strategy," said Flückiger. "We have a lot of good riders and of course, the whole team was trying to win medals. This time it was perfect, we won three medals." Thomas Litscher and Patrik Gallati brought home the other two.

    "I didn't have a big gap today with 30 seconds. It was difficult," said Flückiger. Nonetheless, the petite Swiss rider...

  • Buchanan to leave mountain biking for two years

    Caroline Buchanan (Australia) on her way to successfully defending her world championship title in four cross
    Article published:
    September 10, 2010, 7:40 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Four cross world title number two just as sweet for Aussie racer

    Caroline Buchanan (Australia) raced to her second consecutive elite women's four cross world championship title last weekend at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada. Winning the second time was just as sweet for the young Australian.

    "It feels just as good," she said. "I think I'm someone who thrives under pressure. I used it last year with 10,500 screaming fans." In 2009, she won her title in front of a home audience in Canberra, Australia.

    "Last year I had more home crowd support, but I had to calm my nerves more. This year, I still got butterflies in my stomach, but I was more relaxed. I knew the track wouldn't be as good for me this year, but I had to get out in front and then I knew I'd be ok."

    Buchanan,who was coming off of what she called a stressful BMX racing season, said she was pushed right to the finish line in the finals.

    The elite men and women competed under the lights at night in Mont-Sainte-Anne. "It iwas a little hard to see, but yellow tinted lenses helped. Luckily, we all knew the course well, especially with all the camera flashes going off."

    Unfortunately for four cross fans, they'll have to do without Buchanan on the circuit for the next two seasons.

    "For 2011 and 2012, I'm on a tight leash for Australia and I'll be focusing on the BMX and no mountain biking for those seasons. The 2012 Olympics is a big goal. I was too young in 2008, and I think in 2012, I can do BMX in the Olympics," she said.

    "I'm still only 19, and I can always come back into mountain biking."

  • Worlds win worth it despite 14-year wait for Hermida

    Jose Antonio Hermida demonstrates that even World Champions still have to mow the grass.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2010, 10:34 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    First elite men's cross country title for Spain

    It took 14 years, but Jose Antonio Hermida finally got to experience the joy of winning the Elite men's cross country world championship last weekend at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada. He also brought Spain its first Elite men's world championship cross country gold medal.

    "I've been waiting for this for so long," he said. "I really wanted to win Worlds."

    The always humorous Hermida joked that he would have five months to recover from his effort, something he thought of while out on course to motivate himself to give it his all. This year, the world championships are the final major event of the season unlike in other previous years, when one or more World Cups followed the Worlds.

    At the press conference that followed his victory, the Spaniard, who was so emotional that he could barely talk, was wearing his rainbow jersey and a special tie, a present from a friend. "He thought I would win Worlds last year in Canberra, but instead I got fourth and he gave it to me after I won today."

    Mont-Sainte-Anne has long been a favourite venue for Hermida. "I was completely focused on Worlds this year. I knew the course was perfect for me. Racing here was like a dream with a small crash in the beginning. After that, it was like being at Disneyland."

    "Every time I travel to this circuit, I feel good, I love the track. I have raced here a lot of times, coming in second a few of them, but never winning."

    Hermida started out the season well with a spring-time win at the Houffalize World Cup. Then he struggled mid-season at the European Championships. "In June, I struggled to stay with the guys at the front. Last month, I was suffering a lot, but I knew I could use all that suffering here. Last week, I started to feel good in my legs, and the team relay leading up to the cross country helped me feel comfortable."

    As the championship race neared its end, Hermida battled Czech Jaroslav Kulhavy, who was fresh off his...

  • Dream comes true for Wloszczowska

    Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) with a 10-second lead on the field
    Article published:
    September 10, 2010, 16:18 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Polish racer motivated after cross country World Championship win

    Poland's Maja Wloszczowska fulfilled a dream when she raced to a gold medal at the elite women's cross country mountain bike world championships last weekend. Her career best result came after she was able to pick and chose her races all season, but she knows that next year, when wearing the rainbow stripes, she'll be expected to be near the front at all the World Cups.

    The 26-year-old Wloszczowska skipped the final World Cup in Windham so she could arrive earlier at the Worlds in Mont-Sainte-Anne and better prepare herself for the big day.

    "I knew that the course here was technical and that I'd need to know it well, which was especially true given the conditions we faced. So we decided to come straight here and rest and be fresher," she said.

    That extra prep time paid off on a wet, slippery day. Wloszczowska got herself a gap as she became the solo leader during the race. "I knew the course was very technical, and it was good to have that gap, so I had room to be allowed to make some mistakes. I prefer dry conditions because if you are strong, you can be sure you will be at the top, but when it is raining, it is more of a case of luck."

    Good strategy helped too. "I tried to save some power for the last lap, which was very hard. I was afraid of getting caught."

    Getting caught was never an issue for Wloszczowska, who remained off the front for the duration of the race, finishing ahead of Irina Kalentieva (Russia) and Willow Koerber (United States), and winning what was her first world championship title.

    Although the Polish racer had previously earned two silver medals, in 2004 and 2005, the past few years, the Worlds haven't gone so well. "I was fourth and fifth and twice I DNF'ed. Last year, I couldn't start and in 2007, I didn't finish due to a crash. I had been missing the gold and now I have it," she said, smiling.

    Wloszczowska had a tough earlier season, but the world championship title erased...