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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, April 3, 2014

Date published:
April 03, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • New Backcountry.com team added to US domestic mountain bike scene

    Evelyn Dong (Backcountry) before the race
    Article published:
    March 27, 2014, 17:55 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sager, Woodruffs and Dong comprise squad

    The recently launched new-for-2014 Backcountry.com Professional Mountain Bike Team will compete in major North American cross country mountain bike and stage races throughout the year, including the Sea Otter Classic next month in California, the Whiskey 50, the BC Bike Race and the 2014 US Pro XCT Series, which kicked off earlier this month.

    The Backcountry.com team's roster includes four riders - two men and two women.

    Chloe Woodruff, 26, is an accomplished domestic level cross country racer. She has visited 10 Pro XCT podiums and won three associated Pro XCT short tracks. She is a former 11-time collegiate national champion and has represented the US at Worlds five times.

    TJ Woodruff first raced a mountain bike 1997 and has never looked back. All things bike related are a way of life for him: riding, coaching (his 9 to 5), and a healthy dose of wrenching are the daily norm. Fortunately his wife, Chloe, is equally addicted to two wheels. A pro since 2006, TJ knows the ropes and is a friendly force out on the trail.

    Jason Sager, 39, is serving as team manager and rider. Sager specializes in mountain bike stage races such as the Mongolia Bike Challenge and the Sudety Stage Race in Poland. He counts 10 major cross country wins in his career.

    Evelyn Dong, 27, has been making a splash already this season with two strong performances at the Bonelli and Fontana rounds of the US Cup. A fomer competitive Nordic skier, Dong is also a copy writer for Backcountry.com. She has made the Pro XCT podium six times and was fifth at US cross country nationals in 2013.

  • Evans and Knox penalized for shortcut at Cape Epic

    Max Knox of FedGroup Itec gives his partner, Kevin Evans a hand
    Article published:
    March 28, 2014, 8:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Time penalty costs them the African leaders' jerseys

    An appeal by Kevin Evans and Max Knox (FedGroup Itec) against their one-hour penalty for taking an illegal shortcut in the Cape Epic failed on Thursday night.

    The penalty effectively ended their pursuit of the red Africa jersey - for the first all-African team to finish - and they appeared to be taking it easy on Friday's stage 5.

    Other riders complained after Evans apparently took a short cut across an uphill switchback on stage 4.

    The Commissaires Panel said in a statement that a protest had been made to the race office: it was stated that a member of team 13 (Kevin Evans) deviated from the course (took a shortcut) and in doing so gained an unfair advantage over other riders.

    "Review of Go-Pro camera footage from the rider immediately behind the rider in question, as well as footage from team 13's own Go-Pro (attached to the bicycle of the accused rider) confirms that the incident occurred, and that an unfair advantage was gained."

    Organizers shared the video clips, which clearly show the infraction.

  • Jeremy Powers adds mountain bike racing to his 2014 season

    Jeremy Powers in his new US champion's kit, slip-slides his way to 15th
    Article published:
    March 31, 2014, 21:35 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    US cyclo-cross champ will spend more time off-road

    US cyclo-cross national champion Jeremy Powers is switching up his racing plan for 2014, including adding more off-road events like mountain bike and gravel road races.

    "I am planning on doing some mountain bike races as well as increasing the mountain biking in my training," said Powers to Cyclingnews. "I haven't done mountain bike racing in so long, I don't know what to expect or how my body will react."

    Powers, now 31, was passionate about mountain bike racing when he was growing up.

    "That's how I got into racing. I started out at 12 or 13 years old as a mountain bike racer," he said. "I loved it. It's where I put all my energy. I wrote a million sponsors like Powerbar, Spinergy and Titanium bike manufacturers, and I got a bunch of equipment. I was a total dork about it. I got to go to bunch of races the next year and I won some, which catapulted the whole thing."

    "The thing to aspire to when I was growing up was the Devo program, and so I reached out to them and I did what they asked and went to the races they'd be at. I got on the team when I was 15."

    Powers made the podium a bunch at NORBA mountain bike national series races as a junior, and he turned pro in his final year as a junior. Highlights included a second place in the junior expert category at Mount Snow, a fourth place at Seven Springs, and winning a big race in Napa California in 2001 that was sanctioned as a World Cup, but wasn't technically a World Cup in today's way.

    "I won Napa, and Paolo Pezzo kissed me on the podium - I'll never forget it," remembered Powers. "She was wearing the famous gold pants, too. She was definitely one of those mountain bike stars who had wall space in my room."

    Powers seemed on track for big-time mountain bike success, but after making the short list for the team headed to mountain bike Worlds, he became ill with mono. It kept him off the bike for six months straight and wiped out any chance of...

  • Dream come true for Mennen and Hynek at Cape Epic

    Robert Mennen and Kristian Hynek of Topeak-Ergon Racing won the overall
    Article published:
    April 01, 2014, 21:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Topeak-Ergon team helped by sportsmanship of another squad

    Topeak-Ergon's Robert Mennen and Kristian Hynek won the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race this past weekend after eight days of competition in South Africa. For both riders, winning the Cape Epic was a dream come true.

    Mennen, 28, and Hynek, 33, spent four days racing in the leaders' jerseys before clinching the overall title as first-time winners on Sunday.

    "I can't believe that Kristian and I came here, and won this thing!" Mennen said after the race. "The Cape Epic was right at the top of my 'must win' list. This is the biggest win of my career!"

    Hynek was also overjoyed at the result. "This means as much to me as my European 2012 Champion's Title, which shows precisely how important a result they think it is."

    The winning result would not have been possible without the fair play principles exercised by Jochen Kaess and Markus Kaufmann of the Centurion Vaude team. Kaess and Kaufmann twice helped the Topeak Ergon team - giving wheels twice sacrificing their own ambitions in order to allow Hynek and Mennen to chase theirs.

    "Without their help, it is unlikely that we would be stood here," said Mennen in tribute to the Centurion-Vaude team.

    Alban Lakata was originally supposed to be on the Topeak Ergon team, but he had to sit out due to injury after tearing his Achilles tendon in a skiing accident. In his absence Hynek and Mennen paired up.

  • Injured Pendrel out of Pietermaritzburg World Cup

    Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) sets the pace on her way to winning
    Article published:
    April 02, 2014, 18:17 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Luna Pro rider breaks collarbone

    What a different a few weeks makes. Late last month, Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) was off the front, winning the Fontana round of the US Cup and US Pro XCT. Yesterday, she broke her collarbone in a crash.

    Pendrel crashed while training, and while the injury does not require surgery, she is prohibited from racing for the next six weeks, which means she will have to miss the opening round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa next weekend.

    "I'm feeling pretty pain free so far, so optimistic for a speedy recovery. Bummer to miss the first WC though!" said Pendrel according to her team.

    "The second worst thing about breaking your collar bone on April 1st is having to convince people it's not a bad joke," Pendrel also said on her Facebook page.

    While it's only the second time that she's broken a bone during her career, it is the second time in two years that the Canadian Olympian has fractured her collarbone. She also did so in the summer of 2013 and had to sit out several major races.

  • Wloszczowska eager for swift start at World Cup

    Having come in a close second place in the 2013 UCI MTB and Trials World Championships held in Pietermaritzburg, Liv Pro XC rider Maja Wloszczowska is hoping that she can get off to a fast start at the Cascades MTB Park
    Article published:
    April 03, 2014, 1:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Former world champion eager for opener in Pietermaritzburg

    Former women's cross country mountain bike world champion and 2012 Pietermaritzburg World Cup winner Maja Wloszczowska is hoping to get her 2014 campaign off to a positive start when she returns to a place where she has had success in the past. She is aiming to relive her victorious memories from two years ago, when the 2014 UCI Mountain World Cup opener takes place at Cascades MTB Park on April 11-13.

    The former Polish national champion has been working hard in the off season with teammate Jolande Neff and the rest of her Liv Pro XC team as she prepares for what promises to be another tough season of racing. Wloszczowska has had a tough time in the European winter and will be glad to be racing again when the season starts.

    "It is always hard to train in the winter but I have been trying to work as hard as I can," she said. "I have been a little sick in the off-season but nothing too serious, nothing that stopped me from training for longer than two weeks. For me it wasn't the best off-season but it wasn't the worst I have had either."

    Having notched up a memorable win in 2012 and then missing out on the top spot on the podium at the UCI 2013 Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, Wloszczowska's results at the venue tend to suggest that she enjoys the track in Africa's "Bike City".

    "I have had some amazing results in Pietermaritzburg in the past, and I really want to repeat my win from 2012 when I passed Emily Batty on the last downhill on the course.

    "That was probably the most emotional race of my whole career," the 30-year-old reminisced fondly.

    The Pietermaritzburg cross country track is like nothing that the riders experience in the...

  • Kulhavy watches the clock closely ahead of Pietermaritzburg World Cup

    Pictured en route to third place in the elite men's cross country encounter in Pietermaritzburg two years ago, 2011 World Champ Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) will be hoping his recent fractured knee-cap won't hamper his chances on improving on this PMB personal best when he takes part in the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg
    Article published:
    April 03, 2014, 17:34 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Olympic champion returns to racing after injury

    2012 Olympic Games cross country mountain biking gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy is in a race against time to ensure he is ready for the season opening leg of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg on April 11-13. He recently made a welcome return to action after being side-lined for more than six weeks by a fractured knee-cap he sustained in early February.

    Competing in the UCI category 1 Kamptal Klassik this past weekend in Langenlois, Austria, The Specialized Racing star finished in ninth, just two minutes and 28 seconds behind winner Jan Skarnitzl. Understandably a little off his usual pace, compounded by a puncture on the opening lap, Kulhavy is now looking forward to the real test next weekend's World Cup season opener presents.

    "I was expecting (my return) to be worse," said the 29-year-old. "I was unable to train properly for six weeks, so I think (my result in Austria) is a good result."

    "I did not want to push too hard first time back but I hope that now my performances will improve considerably. The World Cup in (South) Africa will show where (my fitness) really is though!"

    "There is still a lot of work to do," he said.

    The Czech ace sustained the injury in a freak accident on Sunday, February 2 when he slipped on an ice patch whilst walking to his car and landed hard on his knee, fracturing the kneecap of his right leg in the process.

    Four weeks of immobilization of his knee followed by two weeks of rehabilitation meant Kulhavy was forced to delay the start of his 2014 season with many, including some of his medical team, initially fearing he would be forced out of the first few rounds of the World Cup.

    "It's...

  • Stemper out of Redlands

    Jim Stemper (Kenda-5 Hour Energy) gets a helping hand from eventual stage winner Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp).
    Article published:
    April 03, 2014, 22:00 BST
    By:
    Pat Malach

    Rider struck by race medical vehicle during opening stage

    Stage 1 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic ended poorly for 5-hour Energy/Kenda rider Jim Stemper, who was struck by the race medical vehicle after chasing back to the main group during Wednesday's Highland Circuit Race.

    "He had two punctures on the day," 5-hour Energy director Frankie Andreu told Cyclingnews while en route to today's time trial in Biog Bear. "The second time he was trying to catch back up to the group, and the medical car ran into him."

    Stemper's bike and a wheel were broken in the crash, but he was able to get a new ride and finish the stage more than eight minutes down on winner Dion Smith (Hincapie Sportswear).

    After the race, Stemper was diagnosed with a broken collarbone and will not start today.

    "He's out," Andreu confirmed.

    Stemper conveyed his frustration on Twitter, writing, "Congratulations! For your long chase back to the group, you get to be run over by the med car! At least the doctors were on scene spit spot," and, "X-Rays show broken collarbone. Time to start doing everything to get back racing asap, I didn't train that hard to watch other guys race!"

    Stemper, 28, is a five-year veteran of the team and was part of a heated battle for the Tour of California mountains classification last year. He placed second in the mountains classification at the Tour de Beauce in 2013.

    The 5-hour Energy team is now down to just seven riders in the Redlands race. Chad Beyer is currently the team's best placed rider, sitting 16 seconds down in 28th with four stages remaining.