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MTB News & Racing Round-up, September 26, 2009

Date published:
September 26, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Three weekends in row to go for Gravity East Series

    Richard Rude Jr. of Santa Cruz – All Ride Academy rails a berm at an earlier Gravity East race (Highland MTB)
    Article published:
    September 23, 2009, 15:56 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Final stops in Pennsylvania, Vermont and New York

    The Gravity East Series will finish out its sophomore season of downhill racing with events on each of the next three weekends. This weekend, September 26-27, Gravity East will open as the first major racing event hosted at the brand-new Vertical Earth Gravity Park at Pennsylvania's Blue Mountain.

    The following weekend, October 3-4, will again see a new track as Mount Snow, Vermont, will use the Gravity East Series to unveil the recently constructed "Trail 13".

    Then, on October 10-11, the top downhillers in the East, and from throughout North America, will compete in the Gravity East Finals at Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, New York.

    All three venues will also host rounds of the 2009 Gravity East e.thirteen Dual Slalom Series.

    For more information, visit

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  • Dahle Flesjaa racing British Cross Country Series final

    Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
    Article published:
    September 23, 2009, 16:28 BST
    Joolze Dymond

    Athletes from six countries heading to Newnham Park

    Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa will race the final round of the British Cross Country Series at Newnham Park, Plympton on Saturday, September 26. She will join athletes from Belgium, Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and of course, Great Britain at the UCI category one ranked event.

    Newnham Park has been home to World Cups and National Championships. For the first time in years, riders will be able to tackle the infamous "Pipeline" as part of a classic Newnham 7km loop.

    Dahle Flesjaa, who returned to racing this summer after having a baby, will face challenges from Kate Potter, Sue Clarke and Annie Last. Points-wise, all eyes will be on Mel Spath and Jenny Copnall, as only four points separate them in the series.

    In the elite men's race, Adrian Lansley will take up the pole position, but Oli Beckingsale is looking for another win to end the series and take another title. Another favorite is Liam Killeen.

    Both male and female expert titles have already been decided with Scott Thwaites taking a clean sweep so far, while Emma Smith has three wins and barring incidents, she should comfortably score the overall win.

    The Grand Vets are setting up for a battle royal with arch rivals Ian Wright and Roy Hunt separated by just four points. The race will go down to the wire.

    While Ruby Miller is in an unassailable position in the junior women's series, that's not the case in the junior men's series in which Kenta Gallagher and Steve James are tied. James will be looking for revenge after nationals.

    Nina Davies should scoop the overall masters title as she is going into the last round a massive 26 points clear of both Kim Hamer-Hurst and Emma Bradley.

    In the Master men's division, just eight points separate the top three. Chris Rathbone is at the top of the standings with three wins and one dropped round. It could be Matt Barrett who walks away with the title.

    In the veteran...

  • Hermida enjoys most successful season

    Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (Merida Multivan) looking like a warrior
    Article published:
    September 23, 2009, 17:10 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Spaniard bookends World Cup season with wins

    Multivan Merida's Jose Antonio Hermida ended his World Cup season last weekend as he began it - with a victory. On Saturday, Hermida won the elite men's cross country race in Schladming, Austria. His result was good enough to secure him a second place in the overall World Cup Series.

    "With this race, we can say the season is over. It's a year I consider the best in my career. I only won a silver at the European Championships, but it is the first time I've won two World Cups in the same year," said Hermida, who also won the Spanish National Championships after riding to victory in the World Cup opener in South Africa in April.

    In Schladming, Hermida was part of an initial lead group of 10 riders. World Cup overall winner Julien Absalon (Orbea) launched an attack and got a 10-second gap over the rest, but he couldn't make it stick.

    "Just as my teammate Ralph Näf broke his chain, Absalon attacked. I took responsibility and pushed hard to keep him from getting more of a gap." Eventually Hermida reeled the former world champion back in.

    "I was feeling strong on the uphills. I was trying to conserve energy so I could attack him. After regaining his wheel, I passed him and went hard at the front. I got a gap that gradually grew." Hermida would go on for a solo win with a 30-second advantage over compatriot Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Orbea) and 1:26 over Swiss racer Mathias Flückiger (Trek World Racing).

    "There are two keys to winning a race: not making mistakes and winning the psychological war," he explained. "I worked hard on both this weekend, but mainly it was a psychological battle."

    After his win, Hermida was congratulated by mountain bike legend, Thomas Frischknecht, who informed Hermida that he'd won the shortest-ever World Cup round with his finish time of just over one hour and forty minutes.

    Hermida can also claim that he is a member of the world's best team after this weekend when...

  • Moseley caps off season with World Cup win

    Tracy Moseley en route to victory in the women's downhill final.
    Article published:
    September 23, 2009, 18:12 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Carefully planned strategy on tough course bodes well for next season

    Tracy Moseley capped off her season on Sunday with a victory on one of the toughest downhill tracks in World Cup racing. The famous Schladming track in Austria dropped 750m over a distance of 2.2km and tested racers with steep rooty sections strewn with large holes and drops, as well as super high speed sections.

    Moseley only qualified seventh in the elite women's downhill, but she tweaked her race day strategy by splitting the course into three sections in her mind and racing the top half solidly while keeping something in reserve for the final third of the course so as to not suffer from arm pump in sight of the finish line.

    Many of her competitors went out too aggressively, including Frenchwoman and World Champion Emmeline Ragot, who had a fall that ultimately cost her second place in the overall rankings, a place that Moseley happily inherited with her win.

    "Now that is a nice surprise! After qualifying, I went back to looking at how I needed to attack this course differently and it worked out," said Moseley. "My style of riding is steadier than most and that worked out well here."

    The British rider is already looking forward to 2010. "I'm really stoked because next year the race courses are very similar to this one and it's nice to know I can win on this type of terrain. It's a great confidence boost to go into the off season with a win."

    Moseley's win brought her Trek World Racing team's total to 12 podiums for the year. The team ended up ranked second in the downhill final World Cup standings.

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  • High school mountain biking goes national

    The Sophomore Boys race start at a NorCal High School League Division 1 race.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2009, 9:40 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    New American organization NICA based on NorCal League

    High school mountain biking will take a step toward becoming a more mainstream sport on October 1 with the new The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) forming. The organization will promote and facilitate interscholastic high school mountain biking in the US.

    The national program is evolving from the already successful 10-year-old NorCal High School Mountain Bike League and its younger sibling the SoCal High School Mountain Bike League. Specialized Bicycle Components has signed on as the national founding sponsor, and Easton Sports Development has created a sponsorship match program to support NICA.

    NorCal League founder Matt Fritzinger is heading the NICA, which kicks off by supporting four regional programs - two in California, one in Colorado, and one is Washington state.

    By 2020, NICA's vision is to have developed high school mountain biking coast to coast by providing successful models of league development to interested regions.

    "This is a tremendously exciting step not only for us, but for mountain biking in the US. Our programs provide a range of positive experiences for teenage kids, many of which would not have come to the sport if it were not for their high school team," said Fritzinger.

    "This is exactly the kind of thing we need to develop not only mountain biking but all kinds of cycling in the US. If league graduates want to go onto racing activities, that's great, and they can choose which discipline inspires them," said 1990 Mountain Bike World Champion Ned Overend. "But many of these kids go on to a healthy, fulfilling life of recreational cycling - both on and off road - which they then introduce to their families. You can see how this will create growth in future generations."

    NICA is currently looking for additional major corporate partners and individual supporters as well as founding board members.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a related NICA feature coming...

  • British downhill series heads to South Wales

    A rider in the British NPS.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2009, 16:52 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Final round at Rheola

    The British Downhill National Points Series is headed to South Wales this weekend, September 26-27, for its final round. The last time a race was held there, Marc Beaumont took home a gold medal and the national champion's jersey. This time, racers will tackle a course with a fast, open sectino up top and a revamped finishing area. In the middle, there will be plenty of roots and rut.

    "It's like Fort William with trees," said Rob Warner of the Rheola course.

    For more information, visit

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  • Paez gearing up for Gimondi Bike

    Leonardo Paez (TX - Active Bianchi)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2009, 14:30 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    TX Active-Bianchi sending nine riders

    Colombian Leonardo Paez will lead the TX Active-Bianchi team at the eighth edition of the Gimondi Bike marathon in Iseo, Italy, on Sunday, September 27. Paez will be looking to continue his streak of four consecutive marathon wins since finishing 10th at the marathon World Championships in mid-August. The race is dedicated to Felice Gimondi, a former Tour de France (1965), Giro d'Italia (1967, 1969, 1976) and Vuelta a España (1968) winner.

    For the 38km race, Paez will be joined by teammates like Julio Caro, Andrea Tiberi, Cristian Cominelli, who is about to switch over to cyclo-cross racing for October. Stephane Tempier will sit out due to the flu. Beginners Federico Barri and Cristian Boffelli, young junior Edoardo Togni and juniors Cesare Fognini and Federico Galli will also race for the team.

    Paez will face some stiff competition from other teams, including the junior men's cross country world champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer, Italian marathon champion Mirko Celestino and last year's podium finishers Marzio Deho, Ramon Bianchi and Alexey Medvedev. Robert and Alexander Gehbauer from Austria will also be on hand.

    In the women's race, Eva Lechner is the favorite, but she will compete against Daniela Bresciani, Elena Gaddoni and Sandra Klomp.

    In total, 1,500 cyclists are expected to attend.

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  • Strobel happy after best-ever World Cup result

    Luke Strobel (United States of America)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2009, 18:46 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American hires coach and prepares for more structured 2010

    The World Cup finals were held last weekend in Schladming, Austria, on a track that 23-year-old downhiller Luke Strobel (Team Maxxis Rocky Mountain) found to his liking. The native of Washington state experienced his first time in a World Cup hot seat back in Schladming 2007, and this year, he scoreed his first single digit World Cup place, a 9th.

    Strobel enjoyed his first injury-free season in 2009, but his results were not quite what he'd hoped, in part due to bad luck. Nonetheless, together with Aaron Gwin (Yeti Fox Factory Team), Strobel has been leading the way for a new generation of talented American downhillers.

    Finishing with a ninth place in the World Cup validated Strobel's work throughout the season.

    "I am happy to end the season on a positive note. I really love the track in Schladming, and I knew I could do well there," said Strobel. "Coming into the race, I just wanted to ride my bike and have fun. It would be hard not to have fun on that track.

    "In my run I had a pretty big mistake up high on the track so I just pinned it after that with nothing to lose."

    Over winter the American will work with a coach for the first time. He hopes to bring more structure to his racing.

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