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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Sunday, February 3, 2013

Date published:
February 3, 2013, 18:00

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 mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

  • Unior Tools Team expands into cross country and enduro racing

    Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools Team)
    Article published:
    January 30, 2013, 14:30
    By:
    Cycling News

    Former world champs Cunningham and Žakelj strengthen roster

    The Unior Tools Team, which finished the 2012 season ranked by the UCI among the top 15 gravity teams, is expanding its focus to include cross country and enduro racing in 2013. The team has signed several new riders, including 2007 junior downhill world champion Ruaridh Cunningham, cross country Olympian Tanja Zakelj and Slovenian junior downhill champion Jure Zabjek.

    The new riders join Jess Stone, Ziga Pandur and Nejc Rutar, and together, the team will compete in the full downhill and cross country World Cup circuit, selected international events and also some enduros.

    Zakelj was the junior cross country world champion in 2006 and the U23 world champion in 2008. More recently, she finished in the top 10 at the London Olympic Games in 2012.

    "Reliable and relaxed people in the team, great sponsors and blue color - for me this is a perfect combination that will help me reach my goals," said Zakelj. "I want to repeat my best results in the World Cup and world championships, or even get higher. Generally this means constantly being among the top 15 riders on the planet."

    Cunningham said, "Having ridden a Trek last year as a privateer, the step up to the Unior Tools Team is an amazing opportunity for me. I'm looking forward to working with the team and with their support, I feel I can achieve the goals I've set for myself this season. They include top 20 placing overall in the World Cup and top five placing in BSD."

    Stone is back in Europe after some time in New Zealand. "Being able to concentrate on just my riding full time is very important before the start of the new season. I feel focused and ready for a season of some good racing. I'm really looking forward to having new members onboard and being able to learn from them and ride with them this year."

    Pandur is aiming for a top 30 in the World Cup and Worlds. "With the support of the team, it feels more than possible. We are always serious when we need to be, but most of the time the atmosphere is relaxed and this is just what works for me."

    Rutar, one of the best Slovenian downhillers, will switch his focus to enduros. "The 2013 season will be full of new things for me. I will race enduro - a new and exciting discipline for me. The team itself will also experience a lot of changes, especially with Tanja and cross country on board. The whole thing inspires me and gives me motivation ahead of unknown and new territory."

    The team's six riders will be supported by mechanics Rok Jurca and Ben Evans, team manager Tine Mahkovec and PR manager Grega Stopar.

    "Cooperation with Tanja Zakelj brings new challenges for us, but also great benefits," said Mahkovec. "It is no secret that Unior is rapidly growing on the bicycle tools market and additional exposure in the cross country scene means a lot. Nejc's decision to focus on the enduro is also very positive and as a team we will continue to give him our best support. Ruaridh, Jess and Ziga are names with large fan base and each of them will bring their share of good results and promotion for the team and our sponsors. Jure is also fast and can do a lot in the junior category."

    "All in all, we have amazing team of individuals, all capable of constant and high results, plus a team of hard working mechanics and best possible gear. We just can't wait to get on the road!"

    The team is sponsored by title sponsor Unior Tools, a European hand tool manufacturer, entered the bike market a decade ago. Its riders will race Trek Session 9.9 and Trek Superfly SL 29er bikes.

  • Team CF rolls into its fourth year

    The Team CF train charging with Selene Yeager, Kristin Gavin, and Kathleen Harding.
    Article published:
    January 30, 2013, 21:07
    By:
    Cycling News

    Full MTB and 'cross roster announced for 2013

    Team CF is kicking off its fourth season with some fresh faces and a new open to the public club team. The American squad was founded by cystic fibrosis researcher Dr. Jim Wilson and races off-road disciplines.

    Best known for its accomplishments in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, Team CF's Cheryl Sornson captured the women's overall series title in 2012 while Christian Tanguy was second. Selene Yeager again took the PACX series win while Nikki Thiemann helped lead the cyclo-cross field on the national circuit. Among the other returning racers on the team are Kristin Gavin, Kathleen Harding, and Cary Smith.

    New riders from 2013 include Philadelphia-based Jesse Kelly and Janine Verstraeten as well as American Ultra-cross Series Champion Stephanie Swan out of Pittsburgh. Roger Masse, runner-up in the Masers NUE Series and Gerry Pflug, four-time NUE Singlespeed Series winner are also on the roster.

    Team CF will be focusing once again on the NUE Series, mountain bike stage races and cyclo-cross both - traditional and ultra endurance.

    The team is growing involvement at a grassroots level by inviting riders to join the Club Team via teamcf.dnacycling.cc.

  • Hurikova joins Specialized Racing's cross country World Cup team

    Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy crosses the finish line at the London 2012 Games
    Article published:
    February 1, 2013, 16:05
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sauser moves on to marthons and stage races

    Tereza Hurikova will join Specialized Racing for this season, adding to an already strong roster. She joins Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy, Japanese national champion Kohei Yamamoto and US national champions Todd Wells and Lea Davison. After a highly successful 2012 season, Specialized Racing is well positioned to continue its winning ways on the elite cross country UCI World Cup race circuit.

    "After another highly successful 2012 race season capped off by winning the coveted title of 'World Cup MTB Team of The Year', expectations are high for another stellar season," said David Hyam, Sports Marketing Director for Specialized.

    Czech Hurikova is a former junior world champion who is transferring from the Sabine Spitz Haibike Team. "Entering into this great team is a dream come true," said Hurikova. "I look forward to focusing on the races and am excited to know I'll have the best bikes and support available on the circuit. This is a step in the right direction, and I believe I can achieve great results with Specialized."

    Notably absent from the World Cup oriented team is defending Cape Epic champion and 2011 Marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser, who is transitioning to a full international marathon race calendar.

    "It was time for a change!" said Sauser. "Cross country racing only got shorter, and I got older... it's not a good combo. In the past, I always enjoyed racing marathons, and now I am ready for the complete switch."

    "Not having the winning results in cross country lately also helped me to change my goals. Waiting for days in hotel rooms just for a 1.5km circuit race started to pull on my nerves. Now I am so excited to go for the big laps, where I will find more adventure and new places. My focus will be on the Cape Epic and world championships, but also TransAlp, 4Peaks and the Classics towards the end of the season."

    Another notably absent rider is Burry Stander, a former Specialized Racing team rider who was killed in an accident while training on January 3.

    Hyam said, "With the recent tragic loss of one of the sports true Iicons as well as a rider who played such an integral part of our Specialized Racing Team, the determination and enthusiasm within our riders burns brighter and stronger than ever before. Emotions are high, and I know that each and every team rider will have Burry's memory foremost in their minds as the season begins in earnest."

    For the 2013 season, the men will be racing aboard S-Works Epic 29ers, and the women aboard S-Works Fate 29ers.

  • High school mountain bike documentary premiers in California

    Singletrack High will debut in early February.  It's a documentary about high school mountain bike racing.
    Article published:
    February 1, 2013, 19:30
    By:
    Cycling News

    Singletrack Times screening doubles as NorCal League fundraiser

    A new documentary about high school mountain bike racing, named "Singletrack High", will debut on February 6 in Mill Valley, California. The film's premier will raise money for the NorCal High School League, one of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) leagues.

    "Singletrack High" follows a diverse group of high school students through the 2012 mountain bike racing season in the NorCal High School Cycling League. Through their experiences, the film explores the positive outcomes of keeping kids active on bikes at the age when many trade in two wheels for four.

    Vanessa Hauswald, Executive Director of the NorCal League, said, "Working with Pedal Born Pictures all through last season made me look at the League with a whole different perspective; it was really inspiring. They beautifully captured the essence of what the League is all about. This is what the future of cycling looks like."

    Filmmaker Jacob Seigel-Boettner, who produced the film with his brother Isaac, said, "Even as former high school and collegiate cyclists, it was an eye-opener for us to see the impact that racing in the NorCal League has had on these kids. Being part of a high school mountain bike team has helped them find acceptance, accept themselves, and expand their worlds. We are very grateful to all of the student-athletes and their families for opening up their lives to us, both on and off the bike."

    Singletrack High was produced by Pedal Born Pictures. The screening is a fundraiser for the NorCal High School Cycling League. Tickets are US$15 at the door or online in advance.  The event opens at 7:30 pm local time at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California.

    Watch the trailer at vimeo.com/45295483.  For tickets, visit www.142throckmortontheatre.com.

    Tags:
    NICA
  • Kulhavy heads to South Africa via Cyprus

    Adrian Hegyvary (UnitedHealthcare) works to bring back a couple riders.\
    Article published:
    February 2, 2013, 11:44
    By:
    Cycling News

    Olympic Champion will open MTB season at Sunshine Cup

    Olympic gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) will open his 2013 mountain bike season at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup on Cyprus, where he'll be doing part of his preparation for the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in March.

    It will be the seventh time that Kulhavy takes part in the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, but it will be the first time the race has ever hosted a current men's Olympic cross country champion.

    In 2012, the Czech rider also kicked off his season in Cyprus, arriving as the then-reigning cross country world champion. In a press conference in Nicosia, he told the media about his dream to win gold in London and how important racing and training on Cyprus was to reach his big goal.

    This year, Kulhavy has another goal in mind. The Sunshine Cup will serve as his final race preparation for his first Cape Epic in South Africa. He will riding the week-long mountain bike stage race for the first time and is teaming up with teammate Christoph Sauser to ride in memory of their mutual late teammate, Burry Stander, who was killed in a training accident when hit by a taxi on January 3.

    Kulhavy will race Sunshine Cup rounds 1 and 2, both of which he won last year. Round 1 is a single day race in Voroklini on February 23 while Round 2 is a three-day stage race in the Afxentia Macheras Mountains on March 1 to 3.

  • Norway to host 2014 Mountain Bike Worlds

    Julie Bresset (France) carried her Olympic form into Worlds
    Article published:
    February 2, 2013, 20:00
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hafjell gets elite championships while masters goes to Lillehammer

    The UCI announced the location of its Mountain Bike World Championships in 2014 after a Management Committee Meeting at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday.

    The UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships will be in Hafjell/Lillehammer in Norway while the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships will be in Lillehammer, Norway.  No specific dates were specified but both events are typically held in late August and early September.

    Hafjell hosted a downhill World Cup in 2012 and will host a triple World Cup in 2013.

    2014 will mark the first time that Norway has hosted the Mountain Bike Worlds since its inception in 1990.

  • Beerten joins new Specialized enduro team

    Anneke Beerten going over the tire product line with Chris Wyatt and Kevin Drake
    Article published:
    February 3, 2013, 16:05
    By:
    Cycling News

    North American Enduro champ Keene also part of squad

    Specialized is backing the growing enduro discipline of mountain biking by sponsoring an enduro racing team for 2013, including current four cross world champion Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands and North American Enduro Tour champion Curtis Keene. The two will compete in the Enduro World Series, Big Mountain Enduro events (BME), as well as the North American Enduro Tour.

    Beerten, who makes the move from the Milka Superior MTB Team, is looking forward to the 2013 enduro season and said, "After a couple of successful seasons in four cross and winning the world championships back-to-back, I'm looking forward to defending my rainbow jersey and to change my focus to enduro racing."

    "I am excited to join the Specialized Racing Factory Enduro team, a team and brand that share the same passion as I do for racing and riding bikes. With Specialized on my side, and the best bikes to ride, I am convinced that it is going to be a great new season!"

    Keene said, "I'm excited to be part of the Specialized Global Enduro Program for 2013 and beyond," said Keene. "Specialized has put an amazing program together ...  to give me the best equipment and support possible. I'm very grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to racing. The season can't get here fast enough - let's do this!"

    Sports Marketing Manager Geoff Rogers said, "Curtis and Anneke have a very diverse skill set which makes them super fun to watch. We feel very lucky to have such great athletes on the team and are really pumped to see so much growth and awareness around the enduro racing scene!"

    For 2013, both riders will race on S-Works Enduro, and S-Works Stumpjumper FSR bicycles.

  • Vos still has strong desire to win after Olympic gold

    Marianne Vos (NED) riding the snowy Louisville course
    Article published:
    February 3, 2013, 17:55
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    Looks to race MTB in the future

    Marianne Vos is arguably the greatest cyclist of all time. No other rider, not even Eddy Merckx, has dominated across all of cycling’s disciplines as she has. But when you have won all that you can how do you stay motivated? Simple, says Vos. “I like winning, and I can’t stand losing.”

    She is only 25, but Vos already has a trophy room that looks like Ali Baba’s cave, filled with prizes from her amazing career to date. With her two Olympic gold medals from the 2012 road race and 2008 points race are rainbow jerseys from two road race championships, and now six elite ‘cross Worlds titles after Louisville. She has had national titles in the time trial, road race, mountain biking, cyclo-cross and track, and piles and piles of awards from her various road victories.

    The one item most prized is her Olympic medal from London. After coming sixth in Beijing, she poured all of her focus into the 2012 Games. The monk-like existence of an Olympic athlete was punctuated only by an untimely fractured collarbone last May, but the incident never stopped her singular focus.

    Once she had achieved her goal, Vos told Cyclingnews she was surprised by the how much she was in demand by the media.

    “I thought after Beijing it couldn’t get much bigger, but after London I’ve been so busy – all the interviews with media, television. It’s cool, but it’s hard to stay in the normal rhythm for an athlete.”

    “I took a holiday and asked myself what do I want more, and the answer I got during my holidays was to have fun on the bike.”

    “When cyclo-cross season started, I wanted to have good preparation and go for it 100 per cent again. I said OK, I won’t do anything else, not too much, because I need my rest and I need proper training to be good in Louisville.”

    Now that she has achieved her goal, the only unconquered territory is mountain biking. She has a national title from her junior years, but she quickly abandoned the summer discipline for the road, and claimed her first elite world championship at 18.

    Vos will now return to putting down base miles for her road season, where the world championships in Florence, Italy will be her major goal. But before she gets to work crushing spirits on the skinny tires, she has decided to dabble in the world of knobbies.

    “I’ll do the normal road schedule, and add some mountain biking to get something new after the Olympics. I’ll start at the Cyprus Sunshine Games in March,” she said.

    Will she try to compete at the elite level, perhaps taking in a World Cup or two? “It’s not on the program yet, I will try to qualify for one of them in July or August. It would be pretty cool; it’s a new challenge. I’ve done a beach mountain bike race last month, and it was cool to do something different.”

    With unwavering commitment to her sport, Vos will continue to fight for victories for several more years, and she confirmed to Cyclingnews that she intends to go to Rio for the next Olympic Games in 2016.

    “It’s such an amazing experience to go and race for your country. But it’s a long time to focus on. In the meantime I’ll see how things go on the mountain bike. I know I need to work on my technical skills. I’m looking forward to see how far I can get with that.”