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- Article published:
- May 21, 2013, 14:08
- Cycling News
Former downhill world champs Barel and Moseley come out on top
Just seven months after the creation of an Enduro World Series was announced, the first round took place over the May 18-19 weekend in Punta Ala, Italy. Over 500 riders from every mountain bike discipline and many nations arrived to take part in the highly anticipated race.
Locals from the seaside resort came out in force to experience the opening night time trial, the prologue, and witnessed the world's fastest riders tear through the rain-slicked medieval cobblestone streets of Castiglione della Pescaia. France's Alex Cure (Urge Team) and Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis) finished the prologue in the top position.
The podium results indicate what a true test of the all-round rider enduro racing is, with French downhill champion Fabien Barel (Canyon Factory Team), French enduro specialist Jerome Clementz (Cannondale Overmountain) and Australian BMX Olympian and 4X World Champion Jared Graves (Yeti-Fox Factory Team) taking the top three places. Narrowly missing the podium was 16 year old Belgian rider, Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing).
While Clementz took an early lead, winning Sunday’s first stage, Barel put in the performance of the race on the longest, most technical trail, the race's second stage and special time rush, where he took a 13-second lead.
Former downhill world champion and enduro racer, Tracy Moseley from the UK (Trek Factory Racing) beat out another former world champion Emmeline Ragot from France (Lapierre International) and cross country Olympian Cecile Ravanel from France (GT Skoda) in the women's field.
For Managing Director of the EWS, Chris Ball, the event had the perfect mix of epic clashes of top athletes, drama and challenge with riders posting World Cup downhill speeds, Instagramming during the liaison stages, and big names like Chausson and Nico Lau crashing out, Vouilloz racing to maintain a decent overall position after a puncture, and Cedric Gracia snapping his chain at the start of stage 4 and having to run his bike through the entire stage and 10km liaison before picking up a replacement chain for the final stage.
Combined with the spectacular setting, great hospitality from the organisers, perfect trail-ending on the beach by the Mediterranean, and intrigue from the pits as prototype bikes and gear set-ups were tested out, the amazing vibe of the weekend set the bar for the Enduro World Series' debut.
"The riders took enduro to a whole new level today and the racing was some of the most exciting I have ever followed," said Ball.
"We have a lot to learn and a lot to develop both in the following 2013 rounds and in the years to come, but I feel that this weekend marked a whole new chapter in enduro history. We couldn't have asked for a better start and I greatly thank all of our members and supporters for allowing this historic race to happen here in Punta Ala."
The first Enduro World Champions will be crowned at the end of the seven-race series, which heads next to Val D'Allos, France, where riders will be met with chairlifts for uplift and a slightly different format that will provide another opportunity to test riders in the quest for the most versatile all-round mountain bike athlete in the world.
Filmed & Edited by RITM
- Article published:
- May 22, 2013, 16:38
- Cycling News
Italian delighted after Albstadt win
Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) won her first career World Cup cross country race in Houffalize, Belgium, in 2010, the same season in which she finished third overall in the World Cup ranking. She followed it up with her second-ever World Cup cross country win in Albstadt, Germany on Sunday.
"I am very content with myself," said Lechner after her victory. "My aim was a top 10 finish, but as I had good legs and believed in myself, I was able to win the race. It is very special to win the first World Cup of the season."
Albstadt was hosting a UCI MTB World Cup event for the first time, which meant the course was new to most World Cup participants. Lechner felt good about the course from her first course inspection. It was a technical course, with short, steep uphills and plenty of long, technical downhill sections.
In the six-lap race, Lechner had a good start and quickly joint the under 23 world champion Jolanda Neff (Giant XC), who took the early lead, and eliminator World Cup winner Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory) and Katrin Leumann (Ghost Factory).
After three laps, former World Champion Maja Wloszczowska (Giant XC) was moving up and joined Lechner and Leumann at the front, while Neff had dropped back. Engen was joined by Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools), but the duo was already 13 seconds behind at this point.
With one lap to go, Leumann, Lechner and Wloszczowska were six seconds ahead of Zakelj, and the gap to Engen was 18 seconds. The women were by no means assured of their podium positions as it suddenly started to rain, and the course became very slippery and even more difficult to handle.
Lechner was able to open a gap on one of the short steep uphill sections in the final half lap, and she crossed the finish line eight seconds ahead of Wloszczowska and 16 seconds ahead of Leumann.
"After it started to rain in the last lap, it was much more difficult. The course was very slippery, it was like riding on ice," said Lechner. "As I was able to open a little gap on the last uphill, I took no risk on the last downhill."
In the year after Lechner's first World Cup win, she she claimed the bronze medal at the 2011 world championships in Champéry, Switzerland, and ranked fourth in the overall UCI ranking.
During the Olympic season of 2012, she had mainly focused on the Olympic competition, but ended up in 17th position. Even though she had won both the European and world championships team relay competitions and finished top six in the eliminator Worlds, she was not satisfied with her season.
Heading straight into the 2013 cross country season after a long 'cross season, in which she finished seconds off the podium at Worlds, Lechner has been on form thus far. She has won all of Italian national series races so far, except for one. She shares the leader's jersey in that series with Tanja Zakelj from Slovenia.
Lechner was eliminated in the quarter finals of the eliminator World Cup on Friday, two days before the World Cup cross country. That may have been a blessing in disguise as she could conserve energy.
Her team manager Edmund Telser said, "Being eliminated already in the quarter finals of the eliminator race two days ago certainly motivated Eva even more to do well in this race. It is always difficult to know how strong your athletes are before they meet their competitors in the first World Cup race. When I saw Tanja Zakelj closing up from behind, I knew Eva could keep her pace until the end of the race, as she had been riding with Tanja in the Internazionali d'Italia series for the past few months."
- Article published:
- May 22, 2013, 21:10
- Paul Skilbeck
Record-breaking California championships; Meet Hannah Rae Finchamp
NICA experienced a new high with the California High School MTB State Championships, May 19th, when 700 student athletes assembled at Stafford Lake Recreation Area, Novato, just 45 minutes' drive north from downtown San Francisco. It was the biggest event dedicated to high school mountain biking to date in the USA.
The California championship came amid the culmination of NICA spring leagues. Texas had their championship on May 11th, and the New York League's final event will be on June 2.
The New York League got off to a great start on April 27 at Sprain Ridge Park, Yonkers, New York. Hopes are high that this league will tap into the immense cycling energy of New York and grow to rival NorCal for participation figures.
Even amidst the flurry of activities helping newer leagues manage their fledgling events, the greater aim remains clearly in view: providing opportunities coast to coast for high school mountain bike racing by 2020.
NICA has been in conversation with groups in five states that have expressed an interest, and will soon start considering new league applications. The deadline for submissions is June 15. As in past years, the new leagues announcement is planned for Interbike.
May 20th in Healdsburg, California, was launch date for the NICA Booster Club Gran Corsa or "Big Ride" events, the day after the Tour of California. Riders chose 35- or 45-mile options, both of which ended with a gourmet cyclist's lunch prepared by Chef Biju and Dr. Allen Lim, co-authors of The Feed Zone Cookbook and Portables Cookbook.
Meet the Athlete: Hannah Rae Finchamp
Lives in: Altadena, California
School Team: Maranatha High School
Best League Result: 1st place, Varsity Girls, 2012 & 2013, SoCal League
Best Championship result: 1st place California State Championships
Hannah Rae Finchamp handily won her first of two possible attempts at the California High School Mountain Bike Championships in the varsity category. It was straightforward win in the absence of her only real rival in high school racing, NorCal's Kate Courtney, who was away racing in the UCI junior MTB World Cup series opener in Germany.
That is something Finchamp would have understood: Last year she herself had missed the state championships for the ITU OFF-Road Triathlon world championships, where she won the 15-18 age group.
Although only 17, Finchamp already has a clutch of world championship titles, so it is fair to say that she was not exactly over-awed by the day's achievements, but neither did she take the event lightly.
Relaxing in the grass under the willow trees after the race, it was more like she was comfortable in her domain beside the scenic Stafford Lake with racers in other categories flitting by every few seconds. It was only 25 minutes since she had crossed the finish line, but cleaned up and changed into regular clothes it was hard to tell she'd been mountain bike racing at all.
"Today is my biggest high school cycling achievement," she said, putting into context a scholastic cycling career that has seen her take nine out of 10 league events. It would likely have been 10, but she missed the 2013 SoCal series final to compete at a junior elite triathlon in Virginia.
While the winning is evidently important, Finchamp repeatedly refers to community in our conversations.
In October last year she was recruited by the Luna Chix Team as a development athlete, giving her a chance to rub shoulders with some of the world's top pros.
"All the women on that team are seasoned athletes. They have the best advice, and they all love what they're doing. That's the most important thing in being a successful athlete: it's to love what you're doing."
This is the first year of her new high school team, which is coached by Joe Zambrano. "It's a really fun experience to ride with people you've not ridden with before," she says, and gives a shy giggle when asked what the other riders on that team think about having someone of her stature around them. "I think they were surprised by the intensity of racing in the SoCal League. People at these events take it very seriously, the guys and the girls."
Like most of the other athletes in the high school league, she loves the fact that the events are for high school student-athletes only. Comparing the high school events to the triathlons and XTERRA events, she says, "Racing against women my age is intense and competitive because we're all fighting for the same prize."
As to what the high school sporting system can learn from the mountain bike leagues, she is quite forthright.
"It's amazing that it's remained so hidden, yet it's so huge. It's important that we get the word out. Schools tend to put money into other sports, but you can tell from looking around at the level of organization you see in the team camps here that the school teams take this seriously, and it's a matter of opening the school (administrations') eyes and helping them realize this is another way the students can represent their schools."
Hannah Rae began her endurance sport career as a nine-year-old triathlete. "Cycling grew into a passion, I started racing bicycles outside triathlon, and it is my favorite event within the triathlon. As to whether her pro career will be in cycling or triathlon, that is "wherever God leads me," she says.
As to her preference in cycling, she loves the challenges of mountain biking. "Every race brings its own challenge, every course is different. That's why mountain biking is better than road racing. Anything can happen, so you can never stop pedaling. 'Never Give Up' takes it's own meaning in a mountain bike race."
One thing is clear: she can take the punishing schedule of a pro athlete. Already she competes in around 40 events a year. "The best way to train is to race," she states, and it's hard to argue with her results.
Another thing she is clear about is the value of something like bicycle racing to a teenager. "It's a confidence builder. It teaches you where your limits are. As a high schooler you can be insecure, but through cycling you learn you are capable of so much more than you thought on a day-to-day basis. You just have to set your mind to it."
"I would love the opportunity to race for the USA," she says. It seems fair to expect that opportunity will knock in Finchamp's door in the very near future.
- Article published:
- May 23, 2013, 11:15
- Cycling News
Video highlights world class trails in inaugural event
Promoters of the all new Grand Junction Off-Road race taking place on Labor Day Weekend, August 31-September 1 in Grand Junction, Colorado, released a course flyover video.
Named for its location at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, the high desert town of Grand Junction has flourished over the past decade into a world-class mountain biking destination. Those familiar with Grand Junction will recognize trail names like Lunch Loops, Twist 'n Shout, Butterknife, Tabeguache and Andy's Trail; all of which will be featured in the 40-mile Grand event.
With cooperation from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), two shorter course lengths will be offered (15-mile Grand and 30-mile Grand) to challenge the skill and experience of all types.
Riders will start and finish in the heart of downtown Grand Junction with cool, early morning temperatures only steps from the mighty Colorado River.
All riders will leave town crossing over the Colorado and hit dirt within three miles, entering the famous Lunch Loops trail system. After climbing Widowmaker Hill, riders will experience Gunny, a fun section of singletrack that gives a taste of the riding that's to come. Then it's time to Twist 'n Shout, a trail that lives up to its name. Butterknife trail is next, a 6.5-mile section of singletrack that weaves its way through juniper trees and over technical rock features. For a firsthand look of the fun in store, watch this 10-minute trail preview of the Butterknife descent.
After Butterknife, the breathtaking scenery takes over as riders drop down to the Gunnison River with expansive views of towering red rock cliffs before a long climb up Magellan Loop that peaks riders out at 6,600 feet elevation. After a brief descent, riders will then get to experience more than a mile of Tabeguache Trail, riding exclusively on a slickrock climb that offers astonishing amounts of traction.
Riders will also pass through the rock-strewn Rough Canyon, and if conditions are right, water crossings and waterfalls will add to the unforgettable journey. Then it's onto the technical and twisty Andy's Trail before riders finish off on Eagle's Tail singletrack and enjoy a proper cool down or sigh of relief on pavement to downtown Grand Junction.
For those who've done this race's sister event, the Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott, Arizona, riders can expect longer sections of singletrack that are more technically challenging yet still manageable for all skill levels. The 40 Grand is 10 miles shorter in length with less overall climbing of 6,500 vertical feet compared to 7,300 vertical feet at the Whiskey Off-Road 50 Proof. The 15 Grand and 30 Grand are similar in length to the Whiskey's 15 Proof and 25 Proof, making
Registration for the new event is limited to 500 amateurs. For more information on the race, visit http://www.epicrides.com/index.php?contentCat=9.
40 Grand Course Flyover - Grand Junction Off-Road presented by U.S. Bank from Epic Rides on Vimeo.
- Article published:
- May 23, 2013, 22:50
- Alex Malone
Australian hits the front line for first time in Novo Mesto na Morave
In what was a drought-ending win for Australia in last weekend's World Cup opener in Albstadt, Dan McConnell is ready to be in the mix when he takes to the front row at this weekend's second round in Novo Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic. The victory was in a sense a historic one with the result giving Australia its first World Cup XC win since Cadel Evans in 2000 while also proving McConnell his biggest result to date - having rounded-out the top-20 just once prior to his win on the muddy and slick course in Germany.
With the World Cup now in full swing and a team that allows McConnell to concentrate fully on the fine details of training and racing, the three-time Oceania champion arrives in Czech as the number-one ranked rider on the circuit.
"It still feels pretty crazy that I won the first World Cup of the season and am leading the World Cup series," McConnell told Cyclingnews. "It has been a long time since Australia has won a World Cup in cross country so it's very special, hopefully this is going to help motivate the next generation of mountain bikers and help Australia to become one of the dominant countries like it was in the late 90's.
"I don't think I can put the Albstadt result down to just one thing. A big factor is the Trek Factory Team and their support which this allows me to concentrate purely on my riding and making sure I get to the start line ready to go. Besides a few slight changes with training it has been pretty similar to previous years. I think it's just all those ‘one per-cent' extras that are really starting to add up."
Contesting for the win this weekend is certainly an objective for the Trek Factory Racing rider but he admits his ultimate goal remains, as it was before the start of his 2013 campaign to get "results in the top-20" before adding "obviously if the chance comes up to mix it at the front I won't hold back," he told Cyclingnews.
Thanks to his win last weekend McConnell will get to experience an almost entirely different start to his next race. He'll be on the front of the grid when the 140-rider field is put in the hands of the man with the starting-gun.
"This weekend is going to be a bit different to any other World Cup I have raced, I'll be starting front row which I have never experienced before," he said.
"It is possibly the biggest World Cup of the year and one that every rider would love to win. I think you can definitely expect to see all of the top-ten riders in the mix in the first few laps. The course is really tough with four main climbs, 220 vertical metres each lap, rock gardens and if it is wet, there are a lot of roots that can cause chaos.
"I'm really looking forward to it and am hoping for a clean, smooth race. Ill be doing my all to put myself in a position for the best outcome."
- Article published:
- May 24, 2013, 07:15
- Cycling News
Lakata to challenge Swiss marathon specialist
Christoph Sauser (Specialized) is aiming to make it four wins in a row at the Bike Four Peaks mountain bike stage race, which was formerly known as the Tran Germany. In light of his past success, he is the clear favorite for this year's race, something that gives him motivation.
"Being the one everyone is looking for helps. It makes you a favourite so you have to ride fast," said Sauser. "And when I compete, I want to win!"
Just two weeks remain until the race from June 5 to June 8, and Sauser's chances of winning are good. The Cape Epic winner says he is in better shape this year and will come into the race more rested. "This year, I won't compete in any cross country race before the event and thus can prepare better."
Sauser was leading the final meters of the European marathon championships a few weeks ago in Singen, Germany, when he had a technical problem and was overtaken by winner Alban Lakata (Topeak Ergon).
Lakata is Sauser's top rival at the Bike Four Peaks.
"It's my goal to keep the momentum for the Bike Four Peaks and to get the fine tuning for the world championships which are subsequent to the race," said Lakata, winner of the 2012 Trans Alp stage race race.
"Of course I would like to win. But I guess I'm not the only one. There are a few who will go for it."
Besides Sauser, Markus Kaufmann and Urs Huber are top candidates for the podium.
"It will be a tight battle until the very last metre!" predicted Lakata.
The four-day stage race happens in the Alps over 300km and 9,000m of climbing.
- Article published:
- May 25, 2013, 15:01
- Cycling News
British rider celebrates eliminator win in Nove Mesto
British rider Kenta Gallagher (Superior Brentjens) raced to his first career World Cup win in the men's eliminator race in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
"It's cool to win my first World Cup," said Gallagher. "I'm amazed. I didn't think I could do it so early on and with such a hard track. This course is so hard, there's a lot of tactics involved and you have to make your moves on the final straight."
After qualifying fourth, Gallagher worked his way into the finals where he was joined by Miha Halzer, Christian Pfaffle and Simon Gegenheimer after several other favorites were eliminated due to mechanical issues.
"Knowing you are on the podium is already fun racing, but it was now or never for the win," he said.
In the final, Halzer smashed his derailleur in the rock garden, and Gegenheimer had a flat tire. That left Gallagher to sprint against Pfaffle. On the asphalt to the finish line, Pfaffle initiated the sprint while Gallagher waited, but timed his effort perfectly to come around for the win.
Team owner Bart Brentjens said, " I am really happy for Kenta that he won his first World Cup. When I saw him racing the eliminator last year in Houffalize, I was impressed by the enormous power and sprint capacities he has. It is a great start, and I think Kenta will show us some more good results this year."
Gallagher's performance was also watched by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which came to Nove Mesto na Morave to see whether the relatively new eliminator discipline might be added to the Olympic Games in 2016. A final decision will be made in September later this year.
- Article published:
- May 26, 2013, 01:40
- Cycling News
Junior world champ battles virus
Fans and followers of Anton Cooper will have to wait another three weeks to see how the junior world champion stacks up against his U23 rivals. The New Zealander, who was suffering from a stomach bug at last weekend's World Cup in Albstadt, Germany, had to sit out the Nove Mesto, Czech Republic round on Saturday.
The Cannondale Factory Racing rider continues to fight a virus and reported that his health was not good enough to ride at Nove Mesto Na Morave.
"After a visit to the doctor, it was clear that my health is not good enough to race," Cooper said. "I am gutted, but it's obvious that rest is needed if I hope to be 100 percent again by Val di Sole in three weeks time."
The next round of the World Cup is in Val di Sole, Italy, in mid-June.