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MTB News & Racing Round-up, September 4, 2010

Date published:
September 04, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Schurter wins World Cup, slapped with fine

    Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) claiming the world cup title
    Article published:
    August 30, 2010, 4:38 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Absalon blamed for jersey protest

    Nino Schurter added the UCI World Cup Champion jersey to his current UCI Cross Country World Champion jersey with his second place at the weekend’s series final, but a dispute over those very jerseys has seen the Swiss rider handed a 5,000 Swiss Franc ($4865 US) fine. Schurter committed a mountain biking faux pas by starting the series’ New York round in his world champion jersey instead of the World Cup leader colours.

    Team director Thomas Frischknecht claimed that the leader's jersey he had been provided with was too small to race in, which is why the world championship jersey was worn. Frischknecht also pointed to Julien Absalon as the source of the protest that saw Schurter fined.

    Frischknecht distributed an inflammatory e-mail afterwards, which read:

    “Julien was at all times a great sportsmen when I raced against him and after too. I did not only respect him for his great results, I liked him as a person as well. Now he showed his real face of a sorry loser. Nino beat him over the whole season fair and square. A wrong jersey does not change the fact that Nino was better in 2010.

    “When I raced against the French armada with Martinez, Dupouey, Chiotti and Absalon I had to live with a second place many times. Sometimes even under special circumstances [when Chiotti won the world title and later admitted to doping]. But I tried to be a fair loser. A champion, and as such I counted Julien up ‘till today, also is a champion in losing.

    “Sorry Julien. I don't know what you were thinking!”

    The fine was 12.5 times that issued when Carlos Barredo (QuickStep) and Rui Alberto Costa (Caisse d'Epargne) came to blows at the Tour de France this year. In that incident Barredo struck Costa with the front wheel he’d removed from his bicycle, before the pair fell to the ground brawling. Each rider was slugged 400 Swiss francs for the incident.

    ...
  • All eyes on Mont-Sainte-Anne for mountain bike Worlds

    The rock garden is one of the most difficult sections of the cross-country course
    Article published:
    September 01, 2010, 0:30 BST
    By:
    Rob Jones

    Team relay kicks off five days of championship racing

    The 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships get underway on Wednesday morning with the team relay and junior women's cross country. After finishing up the World Cup in Windham, New York, the top pros for all three disciplines - cross country, four cross and downhill - made the 800-kilometre trek north to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec. They are joined by the trials athletes for the Worlds. A total of 719 athletes from 39 countries will participate in these championships.

    Monte-Sainte-Anne has a long, long history with the sport - since the World Cup began in 1991 - and previously held the world championships in 1998. This year's World Championships courses are on par with previous courses built by the Gestev organization, and are already well received by the athletes.

    True to its reputation, the cross country course offers diversity; it is both technically and mentally challenging as well as physically demanding. When the athletes think they can rest; the course throws something at them, requiring constant focus. The 4.6-kilometre route is a shorter version of the World Cup course used last year, in line with the UCI's move toward more spectator and television friendly requirements.

    The short start loop takes the riders into the longest climb of the course, which is wide open before the righthand side narrower entrance leading to the first piece of singletrack. The riders then face "Beatrice", a difficult and spectacular rocky section under the Gondola, followed by the second shorter climb (La Marmotte), which features a couple of difficult hairpins towards the top but offers a great view of the St. Laurent river, for those who have time to admire the setting. The rock garden has already claimed one victim. Under 23 rider Martin Fanger from Swiss team crashed hard and is unlikely to race.

    A loose section of singletrack then follows as the riders return towards the finish area. After completing the western portion of the...

  • Aussie world champs commence title defence

    Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team).
    Article published:
    September 01, 2010, 1:33 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Graves, Buchanan aim to keep rainbow jerseys

    Australia's world four cross champions Jared Graves (Toowoomba) and Caroline Buchanan (Canberra) will begin their campaign to retain their coveted rainbow jerseys when racing gets underway at the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canada this week.

    The formidable pair spearhead a 32-racer strong Australian team, who will join more than 800 athletes from over 50 countries in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, to vie for the world title from September 1-5.

    Graves, 27, enters the 2010 championships in impressive form after taking out his second World Cup series title in the United States last weekend.

    Buchanan is even more determined to win back-to-back world mountain bike titles after a disastrous BMX world championships campaign last month, during which the 20-year-old crashed out in the semi finals when a stroke of bad luck saw her brake lever get caught on her pants and put her out of the final.

    The duo were the star performers on home soil in Canberra last year, when Australia played host to the 2009 world championships. Australia recorded its most successful campaign in history, securing five medals - Graves and Buchanan earning the coveted rainbow jersey, Shaun O'Connor winning silver in the junior men's downhill and a bronze for Michael Hannah (men's downhill) and Holly Baarspul (junior women's downhill).

    Two-time downhill world champion Samuel Hill (2006-2007) from Western Australia will also line up on the start line in Mont-Sainte-Anne, as will 17-year-old downhill young gun Troy Brosnan from South Australia, one of the most promising junior talents on the world circuit.

    Australian cross country champion Rowena Fry and national series victor Lachlan Norris will lead Australia's cross country charge.

    Australian team for 2010 Mountain Bike World Championships

    Elite women four cross
    aroline Buchanan
    Sarsha Huntington

    Elite...

  • Choices lie ahead for Ferrand Prevot

    Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France) in the rainbow jersey after the race
    Article published:
    September 02, 2010, 19:57 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Double world champ excels on and off road

    Pauline Ferrand Prevot is used to winning, both on and off road. The French woman earned her second consecutive junior cross country world mountain bike championship on Wednesday at Mont-Saint-Anne, Quebec, Canada. It was also her second world title of the year; earlier this season she won the junior women's road race world championships.

    Wednesday marked her first time competing in Canada and the petite racer, with a long blond braid, smiled and patiently answered reporters' questions while beaming in her new rainbow-striped jersey.

    While many young riders can race and excel at multiple disciplines, older riders are often forced to chose between road and mountain bike competition. As a junior in her final year, she knows that a decision may be in her future, but she aims to postpone it as long as possible.

    "It'll be a tough choice to make to decide what to do," she said. "In my mind, it's possible to do both. I can't imagine a season without both mountain biking and road racing. The two disciplines bring a certain balance in my life, and I'd like to keep doing both."

    Ferrand Prevot admitted that this summer, she's done more road racing than mountain biking. "I've still been getting out on a mountain bike to keep my technical skills up." She spent extra time on the course at Mont-Saint-Anne with her coach, honing her technical skills on a course perceived to be technically challenging by most of the racers.

    As she matures, her decision may come down to the Olympics. The young rider has a dream to compete at the Olympic Games, but she did not specify which year she might be targeting: 2012, 2016 or beyond.

    "There are only two spots for the Olympics for mountain biking and there are more on the road," she said, hinting at a possible direction, before qualifying her response. "I haven't made a decision; I love both."

  • Nys hopes for top ten in mountain bike worlds

    Belgian cyclo-cross star Sven Nys has been competing on the mountain bike this season
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 11:32 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Cyclo-cross champion will be the only Belgian in the men's XC race

    Sven Nys is Belgium's only representative in the men's elite race at the mountain bike world championship cross-country race on Saturday, and he is aiming for a top ten finish.

    Nys is better known as a cyclo-cross rider, having won the Belgian national title seven times and the world title once. But he has also won the Belgian national mountain bike title twice, and finished ninth in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

    “I have already proved that I can place in the top ten in the World Cup,” he pointed out as he prepared for the race in Mont-Saint-Anne, near Quebec, Canada.

    Nys is building toward the 2012 Olympics in London. “I would like to improve on my ninth place in Beijing,” he told the Dutch Sport Magazine.

    “I think I am on schedule. I wouldn't dare to say the word 'medal'. But if things keep going so well, I think I can be close to it. It is a dream which may come true.”

    After returning from the Worlds in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, he will get back to cyclo-cross. “I will give myself three weeks to adapt back to cross. I will have to be ready in early October and will ride regularly over the winter.”

  • Minnaar is all business

    Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) races to second place at Windham Mountain
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 12:25 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    South African as busy off the bike as on it

    Former downhill World Champion and multi-time World Cup overall winner Greg Minnaar is up to more than being a pro downhill cyclist. The South African, who has tried his hand at business before, has started a new business called Global Racing Imports with 23 Degrees Sports' Martin Whiteley.

    The company will open operations by importing and selling OGK Kabuto helmets from Japan. Minnaar announced the news at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, on Thursday evening.

    The helmets are currently in prototype versions, one of which Minnaar is racing. They will become available via the new company and it's website in early spring of 2011.

    OGK has been in the bicycle helmet business in Japan since the 1960s although the shift to racing oriented helmets is more recent. One company official in attendance for the announcement noted that the performance helmets are now wind tunnel tested to maximize aerodynamic performance. The new helmets also reflect the experience the company has gained with motorcycle helmets.

    Minnaar is a director in the new business. "We've sent everything up and we've been getting product ready. We're based in Grenada. I like business and I'm delighted to be involved."

    It's not Minnaar's first foray into business. "In one of my other business ventures, we have villas where people can come and stay and mountain bike. We set up their holidays. They can ride or surf and just enjoy the outdoors in places like Marin County, South Africa and Costa Rica."

    When asked how his downhill background was helping him in business, Minnaar laughed and said, "It probably doesn't at all." Then he added more seriously, "Through the years of dealing with sponsors, I have practice negotiating, and I've made lots of great connections during my career."

    Though Minnaar said he's been busy spending "10 hours a day in business meetings and only about an hour a day riding," he...

  • Changes pay off for new World Champion Engen

    Alexandra Engen (Sweeden) riding the dry, dusty trails.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 15:35 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Swedish mountain biker caps off season with coveted title

    Newly crowned under 23 women's cross country World Champion Alexandra Engen made some big changes this year. First she moved from her native Sweden to Germany, then she joined the Rothaus Cube pro team, and finally, she learned how to manage a lengthy season by balancing her racing with some down time.

    Last year, Engen finished as runner-up at the Worlds, a result that motivated her toward a victory on Thursday in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada.

    "I think even if I hadn't been second last year, I would have wanted to win. It's always been a dream," said a beaming Engen in her brand new rainbow striped jersey.

    "I've always had big goals and have dreamed of what I wanted to achieve. Winning this race is a reward for all the work I've done. I went out there and rode the ride of my life, and I'm so happy I could nail it when it was really important," said Engen to Cyclingnews.

    Engen explained her move from Jonkopings, Sweden, to Freiburg, Germany, during the offseason, crediting it with some of her success in 2010.

    "If you're from Sweden, it's hard to be a pro cyclist. It's too small of a country for cycling, and last year, I was riding and doing all the logistics myself, and I had to ask people to feed me at races."

    Her move was tied to signing with the Rothaus Cube team. "They're like a family, and it works well for me. When making the decision, I thought, 'Hey I'm 22. I'm moving to a new country and learning a new language.' It's like an adventure, so I figured I'd do it. I'd already been living on my own for a few years."

    The transition worked out well for Engen, who was mixing it up in the early season with the elite women in Cyprus for the Sunshine Cup back in March.

    "(Racing in) Cyprus was just training after I moved to Germany in January. That transition took a lot of energy, so I've been cautious to spare my energy and use it on the right stuff," said Engen, who sounded wiser than her racing...

  • Compton to start Worlds cross country despite injury

    Katie Compton (United States) shows off her wound after the team relay
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 22:00 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American recovering after crash during Wednesday's team relay

    Despite a nasty crash on Wednesday during the team relay, Katie Compton will take to the start line in the elite women's cross country world championship on Saturday. She went down while racing the anchor leg for the USA team relay, which finished ninth.

    Compton crashed while riding the notoriously difficult rocky drop. With her front wheel, she hit a rock that had rolled onto the course. Her front end went out from under her and she landed on the sharp rocks. A laceraction on her elbow required stitches from the US team's medical staff. She also lacerated her knee, which cut into the bursa.

    Walking and riding were difficult one day after the crash and her start in the cross country was uncertain, but on Friday morning, Compton optimistically reported she was feeling much better.

    "I seem to be doing better now and will race tomorrow," sad Compton to Cyclingnews. "I'm just not sure about how hard I'll be able to push on the pedals. Today is much better than yesterday and it's early yet, so that is a good sign."

    "I've just been taking it easy and recovering since the relay, and I was planning to do that anyway, so that it hasn't affected my prep too much. A little forced rest at this point won't hurt. My knee is still sore but I don't think it will be bad for too much longer."

    Compton predicted a hard race. "The course is tougher than it looks and the dust makes things techy in a different way since the corners aren't as predictable as they were a few days ago. I think it has a good mix of technical rocks and roots and climbing, which will make for an exciting race."

    The elite women will race the cross country world championship at 11:00 am local time (EDT) on Saturday. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for live coverage of the women's race and the subsequent men's race at 2:00 pm.

  • Shenandoah Mountain 100 wraps up NUE series

    Cheryl Sornson leads Sue Bulter during the climb at the start of the second loop.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2010, 15:26 BST
    By:
    Ryan O'Dell

    Final race will decide women's title for Sornson, Carey

    The Shenandoah Mountain 100, held on Sunday over Labor Day weekend near Harrisonburg, Virginia, will decide the Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series Champions for 2010. The event has been the finals for this prestigious series in years past and is hosting it again this year.

    The weather forecast looks amazing for race day with a forecast for "brilliant sunshine" with temperatures in the upper 70s. This is a departure from the norm for the 2010 series where all the NUE events east of the Rockies have been total wash outs except Shenandoah Mountain Touring's other NUE Series event: the Wilderness 101.

    Jeff Schalk (Trek Mountain Co-op) has the NUE Series locked up for the men's category, but for the race itself, he'll be the target of a group of super fast men all looking for a victory. Leading the charge will be Christian Tanguy (Team CF) who might have been quickest at the Wilderness 101 were it not for a mechanical. Thus far, a victory in a 100-miler has eluded him.

    Chris Beck (Subaru/Trek) and Mike Simonson (Trek 29 Crew/SRAM/Stans No Tubes) are other favorites and Sam Koerber (Trek 29er Crew) has had no trouble rolling the first 50 miles of the Shenandoah Mountain 100 with the leaders in past years. In 2010, he's enjoyed some high altitude training after getting married earlier this summer.

    Local pro Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) pulled it together last year in time to represent and break his home course record, but he may not yet be recovered from winning the Breck Epic in mid-August. Another local pro Nick Waite (Kenda/GT) just showed back up in town after a whirlwind tour of the northeast doing some racing and chilling with his courier brothers in New York City.

    Nobody can count out Brandon Draugalis (PAValleys.com), with his solid skills and super fitness. He will be rolling it without much support from his PA teammates, but even Virginia homies can appreciate his talent so he will be...