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MTB News & Racing Round-up, September 8, 2009

Date published:
September 08, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Koerber rides into USA's history books

    Irina Kalentieva (Russia), centre, with gold and the rainbow jersey of XC World Champ
    Article published:
    September 05, 2009, 11:00 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Koerber first women's medallist from USA since 2001

    Willow Koerber gained herself a unique place in the mountain biking history books today. She is the first woman from the USA to take a World Championships medal since Alison Dunlap won the 2001 edition in Durango, USA.

    "Oh, I'm excited, I didn't even realise," she said. "I'm just really happy to be an inspiration. If I can do it then other people can, and I want to show people that."

    Koerber finished third behind Russian Irina Kalentieva and Norwegian Lene Byberg.

    Koerber rode a fantastic race aboard her 29er, the first time a rider has taking a medal on such a bike. She looked like a potential gold medal winner for much of the race, until Kalentieva's charge from mid-field turned the race on its head.

    "'What's going on? None of us can ride our bikes!'", Koerber said she thought at the start. "Everyone seemed to be crashing into each other and falling over.

    "I managed to escape any big crash or problem with my bike. I just stayed calm, because in the past I have panicked numerous times and you just waste a bunch of energy.

    "I won the last race in the US Cup in New York three weeks ago, so that gave me a lot of confidence, and then I really didn't train too much. I just did a bunch of short fun things, so I would be rested and really ready to race today."

    Koerber will not take part in the remaining two World Cup rounds held later this month in Europe. Instead, Koerber is looking ahead to 2010 where she's hoping to continue her outstanding progress from this season.

    Prior to Dunlap's victory on home soil, Ruthie Mathis was the last woman from the USA to medal was in Australia in 1996. Renowned trail designer Glen Jacobs designed both the 1996 Cairns course and today's in Canberra.

  • Byberg draws Dahle Flesjå comparisons with Worlds' performance

    Lene Byberg (Norway), l, with her silver medal from XC Worlds
    Article published:
    September 05, 2009, 11:01 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Silver a delightful Worlds success for Norwegian Byberg

    Norwegian Lene Byberg was satisfied with her silver medal in the Mountain Bike World Championships elite women's Olympic Cross Country race, despite missing out on the victory. She had dominated much of the race, riding solo out front for several laps.

    Byberg's rise throughout the 2009 season has seen her compared to compatriot Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, who has taken 12 months off after having her first child. Byberg's consistency throughout 2009 has been motivating.

    "It is unbelievable because every season for the last couple or three years I've been improving slowly, slowly," she said "This year has just been great. I had been on the podium now and then, but this year its been much more stable."

    "It0s good that there is two of us now," said Byberg, referring to Dahle Flesjå and herself as competitive Norwegian cross country riders. "Hopefully she comes back in great shape for next year."

    Byberg admitted the unique Canberra, Australia, course saw her approach the race differently. Unlike her usual style of riding up through the field, which saw her win the Bromont World Cup, Byberg stayed at the front from the gun.

    "My legs felt good so I decided that I'd try to go fast from the start. It's a special course, because if you go too hard on the first climb you can make so many mistakes around the rocks and technical parts."

    Byberg was clearly disappointed when crossing the finish line. After leading much of the race, Russian Irina Kalentieva passed her leading into the final section of single track. After riding back from 21st place, Kalentieva the continued her charge to take a solo victory.

    "It was a little disappointing after the finish line, but I'm happy," said Byberg.

  • Schurter aims for London after entering the record book

    Nino Schurter (Switzerland) wins the cross country World Championship
    Article published:
    September 05, 2009, 14:36 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Swiss Nino Schurter wins Cross Country elite title on debut

    New Cross Country World Champion Nino Schurter has his sights set on ousting taking the gold medal from Julien Absalon at the next Olympic Games in London. France's Absalon had no answers for Switzerland's Schurter today in Canberra, Australia, who topped Absalon in a strategic battle to the finish.

    Schurter won last year's Under 23 title and became the first rider to win the elite men's cross country race on debut. He believes the mental advantage he gained standing up against Absalon was key to his victory.

    "I was in a really good situation riding on his back wheel, where I could preserve a lot of energy. It proved that we have such a strong team and that helped a lot," said Schurter.

    Schurter refused to think of winning until the final 3.1 kilometres of the race despite bravery in attacking four-time champion Absalon

    "It's amazing, he is the best mountain biker ever," Schurter said. "It's a great feeling. This morning I wasn't thinking that I could beat him and now I've done it.

    Schurter said it was the perfect course, technical with slightly short climbs.

    "Maybe on the second half of the last lap [I started to believe I could win]," he added. "I was thinking he was making a lot of mistakes and he was not able to get the gap on me. So I started think, well, maybe I should try it."

    Absalon is undefeated at the Olympic Games, having won on debut at the 2004 Athens Games. He said he plans to win a third gold in 2012, but Schurter has newly found confidence.

    "I had a lot of luck today to beat him," he said. "If we can beat him again in the next races, maybe in London, that would be great."

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  • Turtur congratulates Canberra organisers on success

    Race director Mike Turtur.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 9:07 BST
    Cycling News

    UCI representative hails worlds a success

    International Cycling Union (UCI) Board of Management member Mike Turtur has dubbed this year’s Mountain Bike World Championships a success. The Oceania Confederation congratulated those involved with the project including the local government.

    "On behalf of the UCI I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the ACT Government, organising committee and volunteers for the outstanding job they have done over the past week," said Turtur. "This World Championships has been an unqualified success for the sport and we congratulate everyone involved.”

    An estimated 40 thousand fans turned out over the six days of racing. After massive crowds attended Friday evening’s four cross event even more people turned out to line Sunday’s 2.4km course to witness British veteran Steve Peat beat his second placed hoodoo in the elite men's downhill.

    "Stromlo Forest Park is a magnificent venue and we have witnessed some thrilling battles this week on the mountain," said Turtur. "The organising committee has ensured a first class experience for everyone from the teams to the UCI officials and, of course, for the thousands of spectators who have come out to support the event."

    After six days of competition France topped the medal table with three gold, five silver and three bronze medals ahead of Spain with three gold, two silver and two bronze. Australia finished third on the medal table with two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

  • Schurter selling Olympic frame for charity

    Nino Schurter's name and the Swiss flag is features on the bike's seat stays.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2009, 9:05 BST
    Greg Johnson

    New world champion supports MS Society

    Top cross country rider Nino Schurter is auctioning off one of his customized Scott Scale frames to raise funds for charity. The Scott Scale is a two of a kind bike, with customized livery featuring the rider’s name and graphics featuring the rider’s homeland of Switzerland.

    The two bikes, one of which will be kept by Schurter, were produced by Scott for the Swiss rider’s use at last year’s Beijing Olympic Games in China. Schurter claimed the bronze medal when he finished third to French duo Julien Absalon and Jean-Christophe Peraud at the Laoshan course.

    Last weekend Schurter out-raced Absalon to claim the elite men’s Olympic Cross Country World Championship in Canberra, Australia. Schurter is the first rider to claim the elite men’s world title in his first year, having claimed the Under 23 world championship a year earlier in Italy.

    At time of publishing the frame had reached 3120 Swiss Francs - approximately 2,944 USD, 1,800 GBP or 3,446 AUD. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

    Click here (goes to an external website) to view the action. The auction ends later today.

  • France collected most medals at mountain bike worlds

    Frenchwoman Emmeline Ragot, World Champion
    Article published:
    September 08, 2009, 20:39 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Australia excelled at championships on home turf

    The dust has settled on the World Mountain Bike Championship in Canberra, Australia, which wrapped up on Sunday after nearly a week of competition. France, a traditional powerhouse mountain bike country, walked away with top bragging rights after winning nine total medals, including three gold, four silver and two bronze.

    France opened the championships with a team relay win. For cross country medals, Alexis Vuillermoz took silver in the Under 23 men's race, Julie Bresset won bronze in the Under 23 women's race, Pauline Ferrand Prevot won the junior women's race, and Julien Absalon won silver in the men's race. Gravity racing went just as well for the well-rounded French with a win by Emmeline Ragot in the women's downhill, a gold and silver by Anais Pajot and Julie Berteaux in the junior women's downhill, and a silver by Romain Saladini in the men's four cross.

    Racing at home, Australia's mountain bikers put in many impressive performances to take second in the medal tally with five total medals - two gold, one silver and two bronze. The hosts were helped by double gold medals in the four cross, one from Jared Graves and one from Canberra local Caroline Buchanan. Shaun O'Connor won silver in the junior men's downhill and Mick Hannah took bronze in the elite men's downhill after taking last year off racing.

    Switzerland tied Australia in total medals, but finished third in the tally by virtue of one less gold. The usually strong Swiss struggled some with a stomach bug that swept through the ranks, but still finished with one gold, one silver and three bronze medals thanks to their talented cross country squad. Nino Schurter surprised everyone with a men's cross country win while Michelle Hediger earned silver in the junior women's cross country. Florian Vogel, Thomas Litscher and Reto Indergand collected bronze medals in the elite, under 23 and junior cross country races.

    The United States of America had a successful world...