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MTB News & Racing Round-up, September 12, 2009

Date published:
September 13, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Two events to go in the Northern California championships

    The Lagrange Fall Classic cross country course is not only fun and challenging; it’s also awash in beautiful autumn color.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 11:45 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Whiskeytown Lake and Weaversville hosting final rounds

    Two more races remain in the Giant Northern California Mountain Bike Championship. The penultimate round, the Whiskeytown Classic, at Whiskeytown Lake will happen over the weekend of September 25-27. The series finals will be the famed Lagrange Fall Classic in Weaverville on October 16-18, when the category championships will be awarded in cross country, downhill and super D.

    The Whiskeytown Classic will kick off on the afternoon of Friday, September 25 with a short track on a three-tenths of a mile course with a fireroad climb and a flowy singletrack descent. Saturday's cross country will be on a 10-mile, 80% singletrack course. Beginners will do one lap, sport riders will do two and experts and pros will do three.

    "Whiskeytown Lake has become a favorite destination for Northern California mountain bikers," said organizer Vic Armijo. "This is some of the best mountain bike riding in the state. The trails and ditches built during the gold mining era are so much fun to ride."

    The Whiskeytown Classic will conclude with the super D on Sunday afternoon on a course that's almost entirely singletrack, has some great flowing sections, a rock garden and only a couple of short climbs. It's well suited for riders on an all-mountain set up.

    The series will wrap up three weeks later at the Lagrange Fall Classic. That weekend will start Friday, October 16 with a super D that's mostly singletrack and comes with long winning times of around 28 minutes. Saturday's cross country is on mostly singletrack trails that were dug by hand during the gold rush days of the 1850s. The beginners will race a 14-mile loop, all others get 22 miles. The short track will happen on Sunday morning, and the series will conclude that afternoon with the famed Lagrange Downhill with a long course that starts way up near the top of Weaver Bolly Mountain and runs for about eight minutes. There's a bit of everything on this one, steep and loose, fast and smooth, twisty...

  • Tanguy turns heads at 100-miler races

    Christian Tanguy (Fraser / Cannondale) finished second at the Shenandoah Mountain 100
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 15:24 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    'Revelation of the series' challenges NUE series favorites

    Before this year's National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series of 100-mile mountain bike races in the US, not many had heard Christian Tanguy's name. But after four second places and one win in series races in 2009, he's become an established member of the rank of fast guys.

    "Christian is the revelation of the NUE series this year. His fitness is world class," said fellow competitor and Shenandoah Mountain 100 winner Jeremiah Bishop (MonaVie / Cannondale). "He's opening some eyes for sure."

    The 34-year-old Tanguy placed second at the Mohican 100 and the Lumberjack 100 races earlier this season. In August, he finished second at the Wilderness 101 and he won the Fool's Gold 100. Last weekend, he was second at the Shenandoah Mountain 100.

    Tanguy, who rides for Fraser / Cannondale, attributed his success this year to a lighter bike and help from his inlaws in watching his child so he could spend more time training. He hails from France, but now lives in Rochester, Michigan - a suburb of Detroit - with his family.

    "I was fortunate this year because my inlaws took care of the babysitting and that left me more time to train. It made a big difference."

    "I also shaved weight on the bike where I could, and now I have a similar bike to Jeff (Schalk) and Jeremiah (Bishop) which was not the case before."

    Tanguy has been in the US for 10 years, and he still speaks with a heavy French accent. His competitors know his climbing talents well, but this year, they've been a little surprised to see him get faster on the descents, too. Tanguy proved he could stick with Bishop and NUE series leader Jeff Schalk on the descents last weekend by hanging tough on downhill sections of trail.

    "In previous races, I always got dropped on the downhill," said Tanguy. "This time, I was maybe 50 yards behind, and every little portion going back up, I'd make it back up to them. It showed improvement for me."

    When asked how he trains...

  • Meirhaeghe retires effective immediately

    Filip Meirhaeghe (Belgium) races to 19th at the World Championships in Canberra, Australia.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 16:32 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Belgian mountain biker shifts focus to non-competitive life

    After returning home from the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra, Australia, this past weekend, Filip Meirhaeghe said his final farewell to professional cycling competition. Days following his 19th place finish in the cross country world championship race, the 38-year-old Belgian announced his retirement.

    "For me, real life starts now," said Meirhaeghe, contented with his decision. "In January, I started a new job. I have two roles. I work with a company that organizes events for charity, and I've also been asked to be a part-time coach for youth in mountain biking."

    Meirhaeghe is best known for his mountain bike racing accomplishments, but he also raced road, track and cyclo-cross. He won a silver medal in the cross country mountain bike race at the Olympic Games in 2000 in Sydney and was World Champion in cross country in 2003 in Lugano. From 1999 to 2002, he won three other world championship medals.

    At the 1997 World Mountain Biking Championships in Chateau d'Oex, Meirhaeghe was one of four riders not permitted to race due to a hematocrit above 50 percent. A high hematocrit can be indicative of EPO use, although it is not proof.

    Meirhaeghe tested positive for EPO in an out of competition test in 2004. He served a 15-month doping suspension, and then returned to racing, in January of 2006, on the road for Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and off road for Versluys-Landbouwkrediet-Sportstech. He previously raced for Specialized off road and Domina Vacanze-Elitron on the road.

    In his retirement, Meirhaeghe probably won't quit riding. "With my strong performance on Sunday, I might just have to keep riding. But I've turned a corner, and I'm building a new future.

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  • Näf returns to racing at Champéry World Cup

    Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida Biking Team) was showing the pain as Julien Absalon (Orbea) put the pressure on.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 17:07 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Multivan Merida teammates Näf, Hermida chase Absalon for the overall

    Ralph Näf of Team Multivan Merida will return to competition at the penultimate round of the World Cup this weekend in Champéry, Switzerland. Näf had to sit out the World Championships after an elblow injury sustained during training in the weeks prior.

    "The gash I suffered at my elbow has healed completely, and I can train at full intensity again," said Näf. So I am going for a podium spot in Champéry."

    Näf is still a contender for the overall World Cup, which Julien Absalon (Orbea) leads comfortably. It's mathematically possible for both Näf and his teammate Jose Antonio Hermida to overtake the Frenchman.

    "This weekend, my main goal is to defend my second place in the World Cup's overall," said Hermida. "I've turned my attention to winning. Everything is still possible."

    The pair will be joined by Jochen Käss, who, like Näf, is also making his return to elite competition following injury. While training on Mont Ste. Anne's World Cup course, the German suffered a broken upper arm and underwent surgery. Less than two months after the accident, Käss is back to racing World Cups after testing his legs and his healing arm at a local race last weekend.

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  • Jongewaard jailed over hit-and-run

    Chris Jongewaard couldn't keep up with the front riders, but had a solid run.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 5:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Australian mountain biker to serve at least nine months

    Australian cross country mountain biker Chris Jongewaard will serve at least nine months behind bars following the February 2007 motor vehicle accident that saw former training partner Matthew Rex left with serious injuries. Jongewaard was sentenced today after being found guilty last month of aggravated driving without due care and leaving the scene of an accident.

    Judge Wayne Chivell sentenced Jongewaard to two years imprisonment in the South Australian Dirstrict Court on Friday. Judge Chivell declined to suspend the sentence, which includes a non parole period of nine months.

    Judge Chivell found Jongewaard guilty of the alternate charge last month, after finding him not guilty of causing serious harm by dangerous driving, the original charge which the four time national champion pled not guilty to.

    Jongewaard and Rex had been out celebrating the latter’s 22nd birthday with a group of friends on the night of the accident. The court was told Jongewaard had been speeding and drink-driving when he hit Rex, who was cycling at the time.

    When handing down the verdict last month, Judge Chivell said the reckless and dangerous way in which Rex was riding was a substantial cause of the accident, but it did not relieve Jongewaard of his responsibility for causing the injuries. Rex had also been drinking prior to the accident, with witnesses also telling the court earlier in the trial they believed Rex had taken drugs earlier that evening.

    Rex was left with a broken back, broken hip, fractured leg, punctured lung, severed arteries and internal bleeding following the accident. Jongewaard was omitted from Australia’s Beijing Olympic Games squad after being charged over the incident.

    Cycling Australia announced Jongewaard would face a disciplinary hearing following the guilty verdict. It allowed Jongewaard to start last weekend’s International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra,...

  • Action resumes at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Lene Byberg (Norway) lead from lap one.
    Article published:
    September 12, 2009, 16:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Champéry, Switzerland hosts penultimate ride

    After a break of six weeks, action resumes this weekend for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Champéry, Switzerland. The cross country athletes will compete in round seven of the World Cup amid the Swiss Alps, just one week after world titles were awarded in Canberra, Australia.

    On the start line in Champéry, site of the 2011 World Championships, will be new world champions Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) and Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower). They will go up against the World Cup leaders in the men's and women's categories - Julien Absalon (Orbea) and Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Racing). Both Absalon and Byberg finished second at the World Championships, so this will be their chance for revenge.

    However, there will be more than these four riders looking for victory in Champery, particularly in the women's race. The top five riders are within 153 points of each other, and the top-four - Byberg, Elisabeth Osl (Central Ghost Pro Team), Kalentieva and Marga Fullana Riera (Massi) - are within 53 points. This race for the World Cup title is far from over with two races remaining.

    On the men's side, Absalon is all but uncatchable, with a 412-point lead in the standings ahead of Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (Multivan Merida). However, the battle for the remaining podium spots in the overall standings is extremely close, with Hermida, Burry Stander (Specialized Factory Racing) and Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida) all separated by only 50 points.

    The 4.8-kilometre circuit is only slightly changed from the World Cup race held here two years ago. A short climb before the finish of the lap has been removed, a few technical sections have been tweaked and a long start loop constructed, but there is much that is familiar about this course, which consists of two loops radiating out from near the finish line. The first sends the riders out along a river for a very fast gravel track section, interspersed with technical...