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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Sunday, March 18, 2012

Date published:
March 18, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Canadian mountain bikers seeking maximum Olympic team

    Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) with two young Canadian racers
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 19:10 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    World champ Pendrel pleased with support and recent training camps

    Canada's mountain bikers are ready for another top notch season, headlined by the 2012 UCI World Cup Tour, 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

    After a series of three training camps held in January and February in Palm Springs, California, and Victoria, British Columbia, the Canadian Mountain Bike Team is ready to shine once more on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Tour and at the 2012 Olympic Games.

    In terms of the Olympic qualification process, Canada is currently sitting in first place of the women's UCI Olympic Ranking, while the men are ranked in ninth place.

    For the men, nations ranked first through fifth (1-5) will receive three spots, while nations ranked sixth to 13th (6-13) will bring two riders in London. For the women, the top eight nations will bring two riders to the Olympic start line.

    Dan Proulx, Head Coach of the Canadian Mountain Bike Team, has high expectations for the team this season, and feels confident of its potential heading into the season.

    "The team is definitely getting a lot stronger. They have been really working hard and training well together. We've been deliberately flying under the radar in terms of talking about our winter preparation program. It's about getting the work done," said Proulx. "There has been a lot of riding on terrain that is specific to the London course. We've also done a lot of mental preparation and rehearsal for the Games. We've been stressing all along that the Olympics are about grit, determination and hard work. We're not expecting this to be easy."

    The current World Champion in women's cross country, Catharine Pendrel (Team Luna Pro) is excited for the season and acknowledged the support from partners of the...

  • Scott11: New team, new set up, new partners

    Members of the Scott11 MTB Racing team
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 21:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian team camp preps squad for South Africa World Cup

    Scott11 decided to announce its new team as the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup starts this weekend in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    The new Scott11 squad, including Brendan Fairclough, Romain Paulhan, Floriane Pugin, Emilie Siegenthaler, Noel Niederberger and the four cross brothers Adrian and Mirco Weiss, met just a week ago for the first training camp in San Remo, Italy. A few days had to be enough to get used to each other and to the new equipment, before the riders flew to South Africa.

    After the quite intense days in San Remo, the athletes relaxed for a day at the beach in Durban and walked the World Cup track on Thursday.

    Fairclough described the course, "I walked the track today and it was much the same as last year just with a new top section. The top of the track looks fun to ride and will be very challenging if it decides to rain so lets hope for rain!"

    "The last 70 percent of the track is on the flat with a few jumps that look too long to jump but we will see. It's going to be very important to pedal hard and for a long time. I'm very exited to be racing again even though this is not a good track its good to be with the team and racing a new bike."

    The team is a UCI-registered elite mountain bike gravity squad.

  • Video: Hill and Brosnan up the ante for Australian talent

    First year elite rider Troy Brosnan was the fastest man down the mountain
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 3:02 GMT
    By:
    Bike Radar

    Two downhill teammates talk about their training and racing

    This article first appeared on BikeRadar.

    Perth, Australia - miles from the continent's major metropolises of Sydney and Melbourne - is Sam Hill's stomping ground. Monster Energy/Specialized Teammate Troy Brosnan joined him there earlier this year for some pre-season training, which was captured by Specialized's cameras.

    While Hill, once the young up-and-comer, now the elder statesman after winning five downhill world titles (two as a junior) and two World Cup series, needs no introduction, Brosnan now fills the role of young and hungry. He's the reigning junior downhill world champion and junior downhill World Cup winner, and is prepped to break into the elite ranks in 2012.

    And he's giving Hill a run already this season after winning the Australian national series and national championships. His 2012 goals include finishing in the top five in the elite World Cup series, and victory at the world championships, because "no one really remembers second place".

    Hill will become a father in May and says this is providing extra motivation for the 2012 season. "I told you man, I want to win," said Hill on the spot. "I don't want to be anywhere else but first."

    This video is courtesy of Specialized.

  • Video: Adam Craig previews World Cup cross country course

    Adam Craig (Giant) can ride just about anything
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 22:41 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Rabobank-Giant rider at the Pietermaritzburg venue

    The opening round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa will be the season's first gathering of the sport's international stars at one venue, and a crucial test for those with Olympic Games ambitions later in the summer.

    One of the riders competing in South Africa is Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team), a 2008 Olympian and a 14-time US champion in the cross country discipline.

    The 30-year-old American takes a practice lap of the cross country venue, a 5.5km loop at the Cascades MTB Park, with a camera mounted on his bars to record the action.

    Said Craig prior to his ride, "I'm going to hit some sweet jumps and try not to die going down some rocky, weird stuff."

    The following video has been edited to show Craig tackling the loop's more technical features, with running commentary provided by Craig throughout.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

  • Video: Joe Smith pre-rides Pietermaritzburg downhill course

    Crowds flocked to watch the cycling showcase of the 2011 downhill event, where American Aaron Gwin (pictured) claimed victory on the course in 2011, and now eagerly anticipate the start of the 2012 UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg in less than two month's time.
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 23:40 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Helmet cam recording of entire World Cup course

    The elite of the mountain biking world have assembled in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa for the first round of this season's UCI Downhill World Cup and on Sunday, March 18 the gravity racers will compete for top honours.

    One of the 134 downhillers who will vie for victory on Sunday is Great Britain's Joe Smith (ChainReactionCycles.com/Nukeproof). The following is a helmet camera video of the complete downhill course shot by Smith on a practice run.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

  • Nys in Pietermaritzburg in search of an Olympic selection

    Sven Nys (Belgium) having a laugh at the starting line
    Article published:
    March 17, 2012, 11:42 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Cyclo-cross star wants to start in London mountain bike race

    Sven Nys is one of the top cyclo-cross riders in the world, but he is not satisfied with that alone. This weekend he opens his campaign for a spot on the Belgian Olympic mountain bike team, riding the World Cup race in Pietermaritzburg.

    The 'cross season only recently ended, and he would rather have had a longer break before competing again. “I had only three weeks relative calm after a very severe winter," Nys told Het Nieuwsblad. "But here I must gather the necessary points for later in the season, if I want to get a good starting place.”

    Although he must only finish in the top sixty, he knows he goes to the start at a disadvantage. "I realize very well that in three weeks I can not hit my peak. The races in May and the European Championship in Russia are my main goals."

    Nys finished eighth in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. And while he hopes to travel to the Olympic games in London, it won't be tragic if he doesn't.

    "Then that's no drama. I can take comfort in the thought that I have nothing to reproach myself with. I will try for a  place until June. If not, then I will turn the knob and prepare for the upcoming cyclo-cross season. "

  • Schurter delighted after Pietermaritzburg win

    Nino Schurter pulls away on the final lap of the Momentum Health XCO International, which provided prime practice ahead of this weekend's 2012 UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg
    Article published:
    March 18, 2012, 15:25 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Second year in a row for Swiss success

    Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) celebrated a sweet victory over Burry Stander (Specialized) and Manuel Fumic (Cannondale) in the elite men's cross country race at the South African World Cup, the first round of the 2012 season.

    "It's awesome to start the season like this," said Schurter. "It builds confidence towards my main goal of the season, the Olympic Games."

    Schurter made his ambitions clear right from the start. He set a pace that only a few could follow. Even last year's World Cup champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) struggled, two-time Olympic champion Julien Absalon (Orbea) never saw the front and former world champion Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida) eventually dropped off the pace of the leaders.

    Only local favorite Stander and Fumic were strong enough to stay with Schurter for most of the race. They worked well together until Fumic fell off the pace. That left Schurter and Stander to repeat the battle they fought last weekend at the same venue for the World Cup test event.

    Schurter employed the same strategy, trying to put Stander on the defensive on the descents. It was the strategy that helped Schurter beat Absalon here a year ago. In a difficult, downhill rock garden section with a bit more than one lap to go, Schurter dropped Stander and never looked back.

    Schurter's teammate Florian Vogel was less fortunate. The Swiss rider suffered a flat tire far from the pits and was seen running with his bike - without a rear wheel - to the pit where he decided to abandon the race.

    "This is hard to accept. Mechanicals happen once in a while, but this one came about in the worst...

  • New Zealand women's Olympic mountain bike team battle heats up

    Kiwi Karen Hanlen had a great ride before crashing, and still managed to finish eighth
    Article published:
    March 18, 2012, 20:37 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hanlen, Joseph mix it up with world's best in Pietermaritzburg

    Those who weren't paying attention to the 2012 New Zealand Cross Country Mountain Bike Cup might have been wondering who Karen Hanlen was during the elite women's cross country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on Saturday in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    Whakatane's Karen Hanlen raced to a surprising eighth at the first round of the World Cup. Hanlen put herself in a position to not only challenge for the race lead, but to claim a result that will allow her to build on what has already been a form summer.

    After winning every national level event in New Zealand this summer, including the National and Oceania Championship titles, Hanlen travelled to South Africa. This first World Cup of 2012 has been her first opportunity since the 2011 world championships to benchmark her rapid progress in the sport against the world's best - and at the end of the first lap Hanlen was not only in the lead group on course, but outright second.

    Lining up beside Hanlen on the fourth row of the start grid was Wellington's Rosara Joseph, and with the London Olympics forefront in both athletes' minds also a very clear understanding of the importance of performing well in Pietermaritzburg.

    Hanlen's aggressive start rocketed her into contention at the front of the field, and after the second lap and some settling on the very technical race course she solidified a position behind the lead group of eighth, which she protected and held through to the end of the five-lap race. Hanlen had been targeting a breakthrough into the top 12 at this first World Cup, and was delighted to finish inside the top 10 and only 2:17 behind the race winner Maja Wloszczowska of Poland.

    Kiwi rival Joseph meanwhile worked steadily away after a slower start, and recovered course...