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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Sunday, June 17, 2012

Date published:
June 17, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Three mountain bikers selected for Italian Olympic team

    Gerhard Kerschbaumer (TX Active Bianchi)
    Article published:
    June 13, 2012, 16:11 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    First Olympic Games for Kerschbaumer

    Three mountain bikers will represent Italy at the 2012 London Olympic Games in August. The nation qualified two men and one woman per the UCI Olympic qualification process.

    Italy's team manager Hubert Pallhuber picked Marco Fontana and Gerhard Kerschbaumer as the two men who will go to London while Eva Lechner will be the sole female representative.

    After the four World Cups this spring, Fontana is ranked seventh in the elite men's overall standings while Kerschbaumer is fourth among the U23s. In the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Fontana finished fifth.

    2012 will be the young Kerschbaumer's first Olympics. He wore the Italian and European champion's jerseys in 2011 and took three wins in Italy and a second position at U23 World Cup in South Africa earlier this season.

    "I'm really happy I've been selected for the Olympics. I'll try to show what I am worth and to pay Pallhuber back for his trust in me," said Kerschbaumer.

    Lechner is 17th overall in the 2012 World Cup. She finished 16th in Beijing.

    See a recent interview with Marco Fontana on his 2012 Olympic aspirations.

  • Nys qualifies for the 2012 London Olympics

    Belgacom MTB GP Antwerp podium: Tom Meeusen, Sven Nys and Jonas De Backer
    Article published:
    June 13, 2012, 19:22 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Two Belgian mountain bikers headed to Hadleigh Park

    Belgium qualified two male and no female mountain bikers for the 2012 London Olympic Games. While Kevin Van Hoovels had secured his spot in 2011 by virtue of finishing 15th at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, the race was on to fill the second spot.

    The Belgian Cycling federation had set strict criteria for filling the second spot and had said that no one would go as the second rider if the criteria were not met.

    To fill the second spot, a rider had to place in the top 12 of one of the first four World Cups of 2012 or in the European Championships. Several racers, including Ruben Scheire, Sebastien Carabin, Tom Meeusen, Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys were all hungrily chasing the final spot, and finally this weekend, Sven Nys met the criteria. The cyclo-cross star finished 10th in the European cross country championships in Moscow on Sunday.

    "Before the race I was a bit in a panic," said Nys to Belgian media according to Solobike.it. "because I could not decide on the tires. The right choice gave me a ticket to London." Conditions in Sunday's race were very muddy and treacherous, and riders struggled to decide which equipment to race.

    Nys doesn't have much time between now and August to continue to improve his form, but he realizes that he first needs a break. "My plan is ready, of course, but first I have to recover somewhat, especially...

  • Sheppard returns to defend BC Bike Race title

    Chris Sheppard on BC Bike Race singletrack
    Article published:
    June 13, 2012, 20:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Canadian is looking for a hat trick

    Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) will return to the BC Bike Race in a few weeks to defend his title. This year "Shep" is hunting for his third consecutive victory in the seven-day mountain bike stage race, which will happen on July 1-7.

    Sheppard knows he will be a marked man with the number 1 plate. "I feel like I have a large target on my back!" he said. "I love riding west coast singletrack, attacking and challenging myself so, if I'm feeling good my bike and body will stubbornly defend the Golden Fleece!"

    The sixth edition of the BC Bike Race will also include a race within a race, with designated enduro sections timed and tracked. When asked if he would focus at all on the enduro classification, Sheppard said, "Every minute of every stage is an enduro segment to me. If I am feeling 'on', I will let my bike run to test my competition or to gain time regardless of whether or not I am being timed."

    Having won twice before, the defending champion knows just how difficult it will be to do it a third time.

    "Stage racing is a tough beast no matter what your competitive level may be. To take down BCBR three times, a number of factors must occur: one must escape injury and mechanicals; have day-to-day recuperation and, in some cases, sheer luck! Anything can happen and has happened to me each year. I have never really stopped to think about what winning BCBR means, but I do know I have a grand time, get to drink beer, pig out on good food, ride the best trails in the world on the best equipment amongst great friends - and if I win, then that is a bonus!"

    This year is shaping up to be another battle royal because Jason Sager (Team Jamis) is returning to possibly climb the last step onto the podium after two years as the runner-up. Barry Wicks (Kona) has changed over from winning the team category to contesting the solo category and seems to be in great form so far this year.

    Two Germans will be in attendance...

  • Killeen and Last selected for British Olympic team

    Liam Killeen (Giant Factory Off-Road Team)
    Article published:
    June 14, 2012, 14:08 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Two mountain bikers named to final squad

    Two mountain bikers will represent Great Britain on home turf at the 2012 Olympic Games in August. On Wednesday, Liam Killeen was selected to fill the only male spot qualified while Annie Last will occupy the sole women's spot.

    Last, an under 23 racer, has been competing with the elite women throughout the 2012 World Cup season. She is currently ranked 13th in the overall standings and will be competing in her first Olympic Games.

    Killeen is ranked 25th in the elite men's World Cup standings. A veteran of two Olympic Games, he finished seventh in 2004 in Athens and fifth in 2008 in Beijing.

    The two will race at the Hadleigh Park venue on August 11 (women's race) and August 12 (men's race).

  • Cape Epic prize money doubles in three years

    2012 Cape Epic Winners Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser of 36One-Songo-Specialized spray champaign as Max Knox and Kohei Yamamoto of Songo-Specialized look on
    Article published:
    June 15, 2012, 16:58 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    R1 million on offer for 10th edition of mountain bike stage race

    The Absa Cape Epic announced an increased prize purse of R1 million for the 10th edition of the race next year, which consolidates its position as the mountain bike race with the largest prize purse in the world. The event's total prize purse has doubled in a period of only three years.

    Cape Epic race founder Kevin Vermaak said, "I asked Susi (Christoph Sauser) in the early days what his advice would be to grow our event in terms of professional participation, and his answer was, jokingly, to have R1 million in prize money. I'm delighted to announce that we can now offer exactly that.

    "With our rich prize purse, we'd like to honour the effort that so many of the world's top riders make to ride the race, travelling from around the world to be here. The Cape Epic is by far the highest payout of any race in South Africa, road or mountain bike, and I'm happy that we can do this for cycling in our magnificent country."

    Vermaak noted that up to 64 percent of the money would go to top men's teams and the overall general classification while the rest would go to the top women, mixed and masters teams.

    Lynn Naude, Absa General Manager Sponsorships and Events, said, "Celebrating the iconic 10th edition of the race is testimony to how this event continues to grow from strength to strength. The organisers' decision to increase the prize purse will be an exciting incentive and well-deserved reward for the winners of the 2013 Cape Epic. Absa is proud to have played its part in this journey and congratulates Kevin Vermaak and his team on reaching this milestone."

    The race will once again bring 1200 riders into the start chute in 2013.

    "Even if we have all the world champions on the start line, the race remains absolutely achievable for anyone that sets his or her mind to do it," said Vermaak. "Riding...

  • Gould, Davison head USA Olympic Mountain Bike team

    Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)
    Article published:
    June 16, 2012, 6:29 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Wells, Schultz get men's nod

    Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) earned the only automatic nomination for the USA Mountain Bike team for the London Olympic Games and will be joined on the women's squad by Lea Davison (Specialized Racing). Samuel Schultz (Subaru-Trek) and Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) both received discretionary nods and will make up the two-person men's squad.

    Gould automatically qualified by ranking inside the top 10 in the individual UCI World Cup rankings, in eighth, as of May 31, 2012. As the discretionary selection, Davison has finished inside the top 10 at three world cup or world championship events in the last 24 months.

    After finishing in seventh place at the 2011 world championships and earning four top 20 world cup and world championship results within the past 12 months, the soon to be three-time Olympian Wells will fill the men's mountain bike squad, along with Schultz who boasts the top American world cup average finish in 2012.

    "We have a strong team going to London with a solid combination of experience, leadership and young talented athletes who are all capable of standout performances," said USA Cycling V.P. of Athletics Jim Miller.

    "Each member of the team is deserving, we're proud to welcome them as a part of Team USA and look forward to a promising Olympic Games."

     

  • Norway gives up Olympic women's mountain bike spot

    Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida Biking Team)
    Article published:
    June 16, 2012, 21:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Controversial decision disppoints Olympic hopefuls

    The Norwegian Cycling Federation decided to send one woman to the 2012 Olympic Games in London in August even though it had qualified two spots. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa, the recent winner of the European championships and the La Bresse World Cup, is definitely headed to London, but the second spot will go unfilled.

    The two top candidates for the other spot were Lene Byberg and Elisabeth Sveum. Byberg, who unfortunately broken her wrist last weekend at the European Championships, has previously won World Cup races and Sveum has won a U23 World Cup race and finished third in the 2011 European Championships for U23 women. In the past two years, both women helped score the points that qualified the two spots for London.

    The spot given up by Norway will go to another nation that did not initially qualify for the Games.

    A controversial decision

    Procycling.No reported on controversy surrounding the decision. Henrik Alpers had said on Terrengsykkel.no, "What is sad is that ... on the men's side on the road they [the Norwegian federation] has always worked to get as many athletes [to top competitions], regardless of level. The federation is not interested in having anyone there other than a gold [medal] candidate." According to Alpers, the Norwegian federation reportedly also asked Sveum's team to remain quiet about the matter so as not to interfere with the process.

    Sveum was unhappy about missing out on the chance to go to the Olympics. "This is very disappointing," she said to...

  • Canada Cup cross country champions recognized

    Raphael Gagne (Maxxis / Rocky Mountain) is a young Canadian cross country racer to watch.
    Article published:
    June 17, 2012, 19:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Gagné and Walter take elite overall titles

    Elite and junior winners of the cross country Canada Cup were recognized for the achievements this spring and summer. Raphael Gagné (Rocky Mountain/Procycle), Sandra Walter (Xprezo-Borsao), Frédérique Trudel (Specialized-Québec) and Alexandre Vialle (Scott-Pur Power)

    In the elite category, Gagné took the victory of the overall standings. Gagné won the opening race in Mont-Tremblant, and then went on to win the second race in Baie-Saint-Paul. In the third and final race of the series, with the title already under his belt, Gagné went on to place second at the Hardwoord Ski and Bike event.

    Walter was the overall champion of the elite women's category. As Gagné did, Walter won both the opening events in Mont-Tremblant and Baie-Saint-Paul, and then went on to take the second place of the final stop on the circuit.

    In the junior category, Trudel successfully defended her title from 2011, winning the overall title by taking the victory in all three races, earning herself the maximum 200 points available.

    Vialle surged to the top of the overall standings in the very last race in Barrie, Ontario, edging 2011 champion Marc Antoine Nadon. Tied with Nadon, Vialle won the tie breaker, winning more points in the third and final race. Both Vialle and Nadon, as well as third place finisher Peter Disera (Team Ontario) finished the series with 185 points.

    Nicholas Vipond, Mountain Bike coordinator at Cycling Canada Cyclisme, was pleased with the efforts from the local organizing committees. "We received outstanding support from the local venues and the local organizing committees. Hosting these races is critical for the development of...