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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Sunday, August 18, 2013

Date published:
August 18, 2013, 00:00

Edited by Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to and results, reports & photos to

  • NICA fosters clean competition among its high school racers

    TrueSport is the US Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) initiative which will provide educational opportunities and implement programs for the NICA community
    Article published:
    August 14, 2013, 22:00
    Cycling News

    New partnership with USADA's TrueSport sends anti-doping message

    The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) has partnered with TrueSport, the US Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) initiative to provide educational opportunities and implement programs for the NICA community that aim to help students develop as athletes while fostering a culture of clean competition and integrity in cycling.

    Together, NICA and TrueSport are delivering a range of programming to high school cycling league athletes, their coaches, and parents that encourages a lifetime of fair competition, making healthy choices, positive behaviors, and a focus on fun, beginning at an early age.

    Austin McInerny, NICA's executive director, said, "This partnership brings together two synergistic missions that focus on developing not just good athletes, but good students, and good people. We're pleased to expand our NICA offerings through this collaboration to further support our mission of helping young student-athletes develop strong bodies, minds, and character."

    The collaboration kicks off by equipping NICA member coaches with the TrueSport coaching education course, enabling them to expand their continuing education knowledge base. The course is a self-guided, online series of three modules, accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE), includes a library of additional resources for enhanced and ongoing learning. Modules cover the topics of: Developing a Coaching Philosophy and Ethics; Understanding Supplements and Energy Drinks; and Navigating Performance-Enhancing Substances.

    Travis T. Tygart, USADA's chief executive officer, said, "This type of grassroots impact is exactly what USADA envisioned in creating the TrueSport initiative. Reaching out to young athletes such as the NICA league cyclists at an early phase in their lives, providing them with tools and skills for healthy decision-making and values-system development, and providing key education on nutrition, the wild world of supplements, and performance-enhancing substances, helps shape a future culture for sport that sets the next generations up for real success."

    Some of the additional initiatives planned for the collaboration include:

    - contributing expert content for the NICA coaches manual, as well as coaching curriculum tools to be used for sport and life training on and off the trail/road/track,

    - providing TrueSport publications, as well as online and interactive resources, for parents, coaches, and athletes to support the ideals of NICA and TrueSport in developing healthy and ethical life choices, as well as strong bodies, strong minds and strong character,

    - delivering timely, relevant and valuable information on these key themes through NICA coaches newsletters, member publications, and social media,

    - partnering on TrueSport Athlete Ambassador appearances and presentations by well-known cyclists, featuring profound stories of athletic and personal journeys, and

    - teaming up at competitions and events to bring TrueSport materials and philosophies to young competitors and their parents, coaches, trainers, and other entourage members.

  • Hannah in fitness race against world championships clock

    The current Australian national champion and defending women's Pietermaritzburg World Cup Downhill champion Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson UR team) has been ravaged by injury and is hoping that one preparation event ahead of the UCI MTB World Championships is all she will need to take her first World title.
    Article published:
    August 15, 2013, 00:23
    Cycling News

    Australian recovering from third broken collarbone in one year

    It has been a rocky road to recovery for Australian downhiller Tracey Hannah, who broke her collarbone during a practice run in the Alps just over a month before the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg. Last year she was celebrating in Pietermaritzburg after winning the women's downhill World Cup round, but after an injury-ravaged year, her world ranking has tumbled out to 26th. The gutsy 25-year-old Aussie is determined to be on the startline at the Worlds in South Africa to challenge for the 2013 world title.

    Hannah produced a fearless run during the World Cup leg at the Cascades MTB Park last year to pip second place Manon Carpenter by a mere 0.95 seconds at the end to take the victory.

    "This is the third time I have broken my collarbone in the last 11 months, so I consider it more of an inconvenience than a serious injury," the Cairns local said.

    "Breaking my femur last year was something that I really did have to get over, and I just dealt with the setback by being positive and working as hard as I could to get back to 100%."

    Having such a long-running battle with injury has meant that Hannah has spent a lot of her time on the sidelines this year, and it is going to be touch and go as to whether she will be available for the Worlds. Not being able to ride has meant that she has had to compensate for this in other areas.

    "At first I had to do a lot of resting and recovering after the injury, and then I started riding on the road a little bit to get my fitness levels up.

    "I am back on the bike now, but it's going to be a close one for Worlds unfortunately," Hannah said nervously.

    Hannah missed out on the most recent UCI World Cup leg in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada in order to make sure that her collarbone has healed enough and will use the Crankworks Festival in Whistler as her final dress rehearsal before she flies out to South Africa for the world championships so preparation time is at a minimum for the Australian star who, if unfit to compete, will be relegated to watching brother and fellow Hutchinson UR team rider Mick Hannah tear down the Pietermaritzburg course.

    "The plan was always to miss the World Cup in Canada and to see whether the bone had healed enough before I go to Whister because that will be my only preparation for the Worlds.

    "I really just hope that I am back on my bike when I get to Whistler and I only have one week to prepare there so I will definitely do my best to get as much preparation in as possible," she said.

    Being the last to win on the Cascades track it seems that the place has a special place in her heart as well as it being a track that highlights her strengths.

    "I really love the track; I like the speed of it as well as the berms and the jumps.

    "It is a really funny flowing track that works really well for me because there are not many places that you can slow down along the whole track," the Australian national champion said.

    Hannah is under pressure to be ready to race at the world championships but she has still set herself the highest possible goal for the competition. She has not planned to go there to make up the numbers that is for sure.

    "My first goal is that I will be able to ride there! After that, I am going there to win - no one goes to the world champs for fun!" Hannah said.

  • Absalon's Mont-Sainte-Anne victory a relief ahead of Worlds

    Julien Absalon (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
    Article published:
    August 15, 2013, 21:12
    Cycling News

    French rider will decide about retirement over the winter

    Julien Absalon won his first cross country mountain bike World Cup while racing in BMC team colors this past weekend in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada. It was also his first World Cup victory in over a year. The victory was both a relief and a confidence builder ahead of the world championships at the end of this month in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    "This is a good sign. I'm reassured about my fitness," said Absalon to L'Equipe after his victory. "I have two weeks to work before I leave for South Africa. The best preparation for Worlds is to win."

    The Frenchman switched teams during the off-season. He came close to winning the World Cup opener in Albstadt, but a mechanical cost him the victory. He was close again twice more, with the pressure to win getting bigger with each passing World Cup round.

    "I finally arrived, and with style. It started to weigh me not get the win, and I wanted to give it to BMC," said Absalon. "I was a little frustrated. But I could see that the pace was there. Looking toward a win at the World Championships three weeks, the timing is perfect ..."

    Winning in Mont-Sainte-Anne was special for Absalon. He reminded immediately after finishing that it was where he got his start winning big races. Fifteen years prior, he won the junior world championship race at Mont-Sainte-Anne.

    When asked about his number one rival, Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower), Absalon acknowledged to L'Equipe the challenges of racing the Swiss star. "I can make it difficult for him. He is almost unbeatable in sprints between 10 and 15 seconds. If I can extend my effort beyond this, he cracks. On short climbs, it is no secret, he is more explosive than me."

    On paper, the Pietermaritzburg course may seem better suited to Schurter, but Absalon is optimistic. "I'll have to use the first long climb to get away," he said before noting that it's not just Schurter he has to watch but also other riders. "Look at last year, no one saw Jaroslav Kulhavy all year and then he won the Olympics."

    Absalon's contract with BMC runs through 2014. Switching teams was a refreshing change for French National Champion, who expects to make a decision by next spring as to whether he will retire or continue racing.

    "At one time, I considered stopping my career in 2012, at 32. Today, I do not know. Rio? Maybe. I'll have to see how the winter goes - it's always a difficult time. The early season work is often the most difficult. If I decide to keep racing, it will be for the adventure of Rio."  The Olympic Games will be held in Rio in 2016.

  • German anti-doping agency responds to Klier's suspension

    Andreas Klier (Garmin-Sharp) at the 2013 Challenge Mallorca
    Article published:
    August 15, 2013, 22:56
    Cycling News

    NADA welcomes his confession

    The German anti-doping agency, NADA, responded to news on Thursday that Andreas Klier had admitted to doping and accepted a six-month suspension.

    "The USADA today issued a press release saying that the former athlete and current sport director for the American pro-cycling team Garmin-Sharp Andreas Klier has been suspended for six months," read the statement. "Klier lived in Belgium from 2001 to 2010, and did not have a German licence. From 2001 to 2007, he rode for the Telekom/T-Mobile team."

    "The NADA worked closely with the USADA during the proceedings. It accompanied the case from the start and was also present at the discussions with Andreas Klier. He made a comprehensive confession and admitted to the use of forbidden substances and methods during his active career. The NADA and the WADA will carefully evaluate this information and use it in their future anti-doping work. The NADA welcomes this confession, which supports the work for a clean sport."

    "The German [federation] continues to be available to all those who want to talk about their doping past and support clean sport."

    Klier admitted to using erythropoietin (EPO), human growth hormone and cortisone and using a prohibited method doing blood transfusions. Garmin-Sharp said Klier will continue in his directeur sportif role after his suspension is up in February.

  • Brosnan mixing it with the top guns at Worlds

    Former Junior men's downhill World Champion Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing Team) has been coming close to the top riders during this season and cannot think of a better place to pip the best than at the UCI MTB World Championships in Pietermaritzburg.
    Article published:
    August 16, 2013, 03:07
    Cycling News

    High hopes for former junior world champion in Pietermaritzburg

    Former two-time junior downhill world champion Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing DH) will be heading into the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships with an 11th place finish in the final UCI World Cup event under his belt improving on that will be something that the Australian has his eyes firmly set on when he takes to the Cascades MTB Park track.

    The Specialized Racing Team rider has been in good form this season and has moved up the rankings into 13th position after he registered two fifth places and a 12th in the World Cup legs so far this season and his form is something that he is happy with in the lead up to the world championships.

    "My preparations for the Worlds are going really well, I feel strong and feel in the best shape I have ever been in!" the South Australian said.

    "I have been doing a lot more work in the gym on my legs for this event because the course is pretty challenging."

    The former junior star has been chasing the big guns this year and has not quite managed to catch them, but he is not focusing on whom to look out for but rather concentrate on himself and see what he can do to beat the more experienced top runners.

    "Going into the Worlds, I always like to just worry about myself rather than the other riders because then you lose sight of what you have to do," a focused Brosnan said.

    The track at the Cascades MTB Park is unique in that the riders feel that there is a large amount of peddling needed and being strong through those peddling sections is something that Brosnan has been concentrating on in his training. With some spectacular jumps and the experience of having ridden there before has got Brosnan really excited about the opportunity.

    "This Worlds track has a lot of pedalling sections so you have to be fit and strong through there so you can keep up your speed. It is pretty fun to ride but super hard to race with all of the pedalling but I have been there and raced there before so I will have my lines dialled when I get on the track to race.

    "The big jumps would have to be the best part!" he said excitedly.

    Being a world champion at junior level has meant that the 20-year-old has had to deal with the hype that comes with competing at the highest level and racing for his country is something that he has come to terms with and relishes.

    "I have been racing for Australia for a few years now, so I know what comes with representing your country and the pressure doesn't really bother me anymore which helps keep me relaxed when I'm racing.

    "Being able to win the (elite) world championship would mean the absolute world to me. It has literally been something I have dreamt of since I was a little kid and if I was the fastest in the world that would be the ultimate prize!" an eager Brosnan said.

    There are five places on the podium and being able to claim one of those is a lot of riders dreams, but Brosnan is aiming higher than that - he wants to go all the way and become the fastest downhill rider in the world.

    "I always go to a race wanting to win the thing so that is my first goal!

    "But getting a medal would also be awesome for me because ending in the top five is a pretty impressive achievement at the Worldss."

    Being at a world championships is one thing, but being away from the major riding meccas of the world is an experience in itself. Travelling to South Africa is something that Brosnan has enjoyed.

    "Travelling to South Africa is something that I have enjoyed, and it has been fun every time I have been there.

    "I really enjoy the country and the monkeys are also pretty funny," Brosnan said in jest.

  • Litscher puts an early end to his season

    Thomas Litscher (Multivan Merida)
    Article published:
    August 16, 2013, 16:20
    Cycling News

    Former U23 world champ to undergo surgery

    Swiss rider Thomas Litscher (Multivan Merida Team) is putting an early end to his season due to saddle sore issues. The 2011 U23 world champion is scheduled for surgery on August 20.

    Litscher had an excellent start into his season. New to his Multivan Merida team, he finished an impressive fourth at the second World Cup of the season in Nove Mesto. Then in the most recent World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, he managed to be in the top 10 for the first half of the race, until the pain caused by an abscess set in and forced him to abandon.

    "Unfortunately the saddle sore I had been struggling with last season returned after a couple of hard weeks training at altitude in July. After the race in Andorra, I modified my saddle to lessen the pressure in key areas, but that only has lead to further complications," said Litscher.

    "After discussing the issue with my coach and the Multivan Merida team, I have decided to put an early end to the 2013 season and get surgery to solve the problem as soon as possible."

    Litscher will not be allowed to get back in the saddle for two months after his surgery, but he is optimistic he will eventually make a full recovery.

  • Canada expands team for mountain bike Worlds

    Cameron Jette (Scott-3Rox Racing) was part of the chase group
    Article published:
    August 16, 2013, 19:50
    Cycling News

    Eight riders added to roster

    Canada will send more cross country riders than initially announced to the the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa at the end of this month.

    "Cycling Canada has expanded its capacity at the world championships, and we're pleased to use this opportunity to build the best team possible for the world championships. We have a lot of depth in our program and these additions will help to insure that Canada's development program is a world leader" said National Team Head Coach, Dan Proulx.

    "In the first two years of this Olympic quadrennial leading into the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, it is important to continue to identify and develop our talent pool so as to continue being one of the top mountain bike cycling nations in the world. The addition athletes to our worlds team roster is aligned with the philosophy of exposing our development athletes to top international competition like the world championships," said Jacques Landry, High Performance Director & Head Coach of Cycling Canada.

    Other members of the Canadian team were announced earlier this month.

    Additional riders for the Canadian team headed to mountain bike Worlds

    Elite men
    Cameron Jette (Scott-3 Rox Racing)

    Elite women
    Mikaëla Kofman (Scott-3 Rox Racing)
    Andréanne Pichette (Opus-OCG)

    U23 men
    Léandre Bouchard (Cyclone d'Alma)
    Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory Team)
    Jérémy Martin (Rocky Mountain Bicycles Factory Team)

    U23 women
    Laura Bietola (RealDeal Gears/Fieldgate)

    Junior men
    Marc-André Fortier (National Team)

    Junior women
    Gabrielle April (National Team)

  • Olympian Candice Neethling excited to race on home turf

    Candice Neethling (BMC-SA) will look to draw on her local track knowledge and experience gained from her London 2012 Olympic Games participation when she tackles the U23 women's cross country race of the UCI MTB World Championships in Pietermaritzburg
    Article published:
    August 17, 2013, 23:05
    Cycling News

    U23 rider eager for mountain bike Worlds

    London Olympian and South African star under 23 women's cross country mountain biker Candice Neethling (BMC-SA) is enjoying a timely return to top form in the build-up to the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships which will take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from August 26 to September 1.

    Having been identified by SASCOC as one of the country's leading Rio 2016 Olympic Games potential medal challengers, Neethling was select to compete in London in 2012 where she gained invaluable experience racing against her elite rivals despite still only being in the under 23 age group.

    Since then, Neethling suffered a tough first half of 2013 however the young star whose future seems bright has started to find the form she would be happy with and will now look to throw her hat into the ring of Worlds top five challengers.

    "I felt I had a tough time getting into the season at the start of the year. The loss of Burry (Stander) was hard for all of us who knew him and that really put me on the back foot at the beginning of the year, but I feel I've progressed nicely in the last little while, just in time for the Worlds," said the Western Cape based competitor.

    "I feel I have a lot more energy this year than I did this time last year too so hopefully I can just give it my best shot in Maritzburg in a couple of weeks' time."

    Neethling spent much of the first half of the season tackling some of the tough European legs of the UCI MTB World Cup series where, being a little off her normal game, she battled to claim the results she had hoped for however returned somewhat battle-hardened from the clashes.

    "Racing overseas is just so different to racing on the local circuit and no one here will ever really understand the overseas level and racing style until they've competed over there themselves.

    "Europe is the hub of cross country racing, so the standard there is the highest and Europeans are just so used to having to fight for every single position they want so that cut-throat racing culture is one they grow up with and are used to even as youngsters."

    Fortunately for Neethling she wasn't alone in the U23 women's field overseas as she enjoyed good company from fellow local talent Mariske Strauss, for whom 2013 has been a year of tremendous growth and success.

    Strauss, having signed for pro team Orange Monkey at the start of the World Cup season, has earned some impressive results this season and the battle between her and Neethling has been a fascinating one to watch both locally and abroad.

    "The competition between Mariske (Strauss) and I has been fierce this year here at home and overseas but I think it has been really good for both of us," said Neethling.

    "With us being really close together now as far as our racing level goes, we're constantly pushing to do better individually and hence the other then pushes harder too in order to keep up or get ahead and so we both have gained a lot.

    "She and I often beat the elite ladies, and I think that competition between us can only be healthy and hopefully together we can try set a new standard for ladies mountain biking in South Africa.

    "It's also great to have another South African rider up there when we compete internationally and in the mix and Mariske has had a phenomenal season and hopefully she goes well at Worldss too.

    Neethling is looking forward to the rare opportunity of competing on the largest MTB stage in her own country and believes her local knowledge of the track, albeit a little rusty, puts her in good stead ahead of the clash.

    "It's really great that they are the ones that have to travel this time around. If we make sure we use this huge advantage properly, then I really think the South Africans can do very well at this year's Worlds.

    "I've raced at Cascades a lot. I've done World Cups, nationals and many other races here and even though I haven't been to the track in a while I feel I know this course really well and its just a matter of refreshing the memory again."

    The science behind a modern day athlete is endless and finding the perfect balance of all variables is what every competitor seeks. For Neethling, resisting the temptation to over train in the final phase before the event and ensuring she remains fresh is her greatest challenge as the international challenge draws nearer.

    "Being properly prepared is definitely crucial, especially with the level of competition at the front of the field these days, however I think a lot over do things a little in the month before Worlds because they worried they haven't prepared enough beforehand and in fact lose their sharpness come race day."

    "For me it's all a matter of trying to get the balance right between training on the course, which is also crucial, but them also making sure I'm properly rested.