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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, August 22, 2013

Date published:
August 22, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Sanders relishing mountain bike world championship debut

    Hoedspruit local, Samantha Sanders (Valencia Cycles Team), has competed in two marathon World Championships so that experience could prove to be a massive advantage for her when she takes to the Cascades MTB Park course at the end of August for the UCI MTB World Champs.
    Article published:
    August 18, 2013, 16:12 BST
    Cycling News

    National champion to elad South African team in Pietermaritzburg

    Current South African women's cross country mountain biking champion and Hoedspruit resident Samantha Sanders has been boosted by her recent triumph at the national championships to lead the South African women's charge at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from August 26 to September 1.

    Heading into her first world championships, the Valencia Cycles Team rider is looking to tap into her international experience when she lines up against the who's who of female cross country racing.

    "While I have never competed at the cross country championships, I did spend time competing in Europe last year and took part in a number of World Cup races and European Nationals," Sanders said.

    "I have also taken part in two marathon world championships and from these experiences, I feel that I have a very realistic approach to Worlds.

    "It is difficult to put into words the intensity of racing at this level and the many intricate challenges that go along with it."

    Becoming the new champion of South Africa provides a serious confidence boost for any rider and it could not have come at a better time for Sanders with just a few weeks to go until the world championships begin.

    "Winning the national championship definitely gives you a surge of energy and renewed motivation.

    "For me personally, having started with a new coach recently, it has boosted my self-belief in that it serves as a kind of confirmation that our training recipe is working," Sanders said.

    Preparations for the world championships have been quite subdued for Sanders who has not been riding competitively in the lead up to the event and has opted to take some time out to prepare herself.

    "I am not doing any races at all, and I am focusing on getting myself into the best possible physical condition I can. Mentally...

  • Wloszczowska happy to return to Pietermaritzburg for Worlds

    The current Polish National women's cross country champion Maja Wloszczowska has been in great form in 2013 with a number of second place finishes in the World Cup legs and cannot think of a better venue to claim her second UCI MTB World Championships title than at the Cascades MTB Park - a place where she has won before.
    Article published:
    August 19, 2013, 18:00 BST
    Cycling News

    2010 world champion hopeful for another rainbow jersey

    When former world champion and Polish women's cross country mountain biking national champion Maja Wloszczowska takes to Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, which will take place from August 26 to September 1, it will be a reappearance at the venue she remembers fondly after her 2012 UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg heroics.

    2013 has been a memorable year for the world number four, who has climbed up the rankings substantially over the past 12 months. Wloszczowska has been close to the top of the sport throughout the year, but is still to break through the second place barrier that she has occupied on a few occasions throughout the year, including at the most recent leg of the UCI World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, and claim her first win of the season.

    "It was so close again in Canada!" the Giant Pro XC Team rider said.

    "That was my third second place this year at the World Cup, but it's still great because I was hesitant on whether I was going to go to Canada or not with the time zone changes and a lot of travelling making my preparations for Worlds a little bit more complicated."

    "I decided not to be a coward and fight for everything, so it was definitely worth going and it has helped because I'm happy with my form and with two more weeks of training before Worlds I'm confident I will be ready to go."

    Winning in Pietermaritzburg last year has meant that the Pietermaritzburg track has stuck with Wloszczowska with victory only having further boosted her already visible fondness of the course.

    "Usually when you are strong and especially when you win - you like the course - but, actually, I liked it already before my victory there last year.

  • Swiss team finalized for mountain bike Worlds

    The current men's Cross country world number one Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing) will be pushed all the way by a number of the world's top riders - especially Julien Absalon (BMC MTB Racing) and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing).
    Article published:
    August 19, 2013, 21:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Defending cross country champ Schurter heads team

    The Swiss Cycling Federation finalized its roster for the Swiss National Team representing Switzerland at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships starting on August 26. Racers will compete in cross country, eliminator, downhill and team relay events in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    Switzerland is a powerhouse nation at mountain bike Worlds each year, and with eight elite men and five elite women on the cross country roster, including defending cross country world champion Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) and defending eliminator world champion Ralph Näf (BMC), the nation is set up well for another year of strong performances.

    Swiss team for the UC Mountain Bike World Championships

    Cross country

    Elite men
    Martin Fanger (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
    Lukas Flückiger (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
    Mathias Flückiger (Stöckli Pro Team)
    Fabian Giger (Giant Pro XC Team)
    Martin Gujan (Team TX Active Bianchi)
    Ralph Näf (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
    Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower MTB Racing)
    Florian Vogel (Scott Swisspower MTB Racing

    Elite women
    Corina Gantenbein (Fischer BMC Team)
    Katrin Leumann (Ghost Factory Racing Team)
    Nathalie Schneitter (Colnago Südtirol)
    Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team)
    Esther Süss (Wheeler_iXS Team)

    U23 men
    Andri Frischknecht (Scott Swisspower MTB Racing)
    Reto Indergand (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
    Matthias Stirnemann (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
    Marc Stutzmann (RSC Aaretal Münsingen)
    Enea Vetsch (bskGraf-Rollmat-Koba-MTB)

    U23 women
    Linda Indergand (Strüby MTB Kader)
    Jolanda Neff (Giant Pro XC Team)
    Andrea Waldis...

  • Australian team confirmed for 2013 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships

    Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    August 20, 2013, 4:28 BST
    Cycling News

    MTBA sends "best [team] we have presented at a world championship"

    The final Australian team heading to South Africa for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships was confirmed on Tuesday. The team taking part in the championships will take place from August 26th to September 1st at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg was announced last week, and has now been confirmed with athletes on their way to the titles.

    Fresh off their ground-breaking seasons, Dan McConnell and Rebecca Henderson spearhead what MTBA Executive officer Tony Scott believes is Australia’s best world championship team yet.

    "The Australian Team for 2013 is what I think is the best we have presented at a world championships," said Scott. "Dan McConnell has already performed [in cross country] at a level not seen in decades, as has Rebecca Henderson.

    "Dean Lucas has taken out a downhill World Cup in the junior men category in 2013, while Tegan Molloy has also gained a podium spot while Janine Jungfels has won a World Cup silver medal [in trials]," said Scott.

    "Add to these excellent results against the world's best we also have Sam Hill, Troy Brosnan and Michael Hannah who are building into the Worlds, as is Caroline Buchanan who is in form after recently being crowned BMX world champion.

    "We have a stellar cast of athletes who will put Australia on the map in 2013," said Scott.

    Australian team for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

    Elite men cross country: Daniel McConnell, Paul Van Der Ploeg.
    U23 men cross country: Michael Crosbie.
    U23 women cross country: Rebecca...

  • Hermida raring to go ahead of mountain bike Worlds

    The current Spanish national champion Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) is coming off a solid second position in final leg of the World Cup before the start of the UCI MTB World Championships and will take a lot of confidence into the competition.
    Article published:
    August 20, 2013, 17:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Former world champion hopes for a good day in Pietermaritzburg

    As the showcase mountain biking event of the year draws ever closer, final preparations are being put in place by organisers and riders alike and Spanish national men's cross country champion Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) is adding his final few touches to his preparations before he heads to Pietermaritzburg for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships starting on August 26.

    The Multivan Merida rider has had an up and down season so far in 2013, but looks to be hitting his straps after he recorded a second place finish in the most recent UCI World Cup event held in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada. The result will be a good confidence booster ahead of the premier event of the 2013 mountain biking calendar.

    "My preparation has been going well leading up to Worlds and my second place at Mont-Sainte-Anne was important in helping me get ready," the current world ranked number eight said.

    "I am pretty happy with the shape that I am in at the moment, but I do still think that I can improve a bit before the Worlds, but we will see."

    Hermida has been to Pietermaritzburg on a few previous occasions. He won the World Cup event that was held there in 2009. Then, he had mechanical issues at the World Cup leg there last year and so will be looking to avoid these this time around and give himself the best possible chance of regaining the world championship crown that he won in 2010.

    "Last year, I really didn't have a good race in Pietermaritzburg, I had some small problems that didn't help me," said Hermida.

    "I couldn't repeat my good results that I achieved in 2009 and 2011, but if all goes well this year I really think I have a good chance because I really like the course there," the former...

  • NICA runs pilot program to include middle schoolers

    The 2013 Texas High School Mountain Bike League gets under way!
    Article published:
    August 20, 2013, 21:15 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Minnesota tests out involvement of younger student-athletes

    The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) is running a new pilot program to include middle schoolers in some of its mountain bike programs, which hitherto, have been only for high school students.

    "We've gotten some feedback that by the time kids get to high school, they're already tracked to other sports. They're missing the opportunity to try riding earlier and maybe get into it," said Austin McInerny to Cyclingnews.

    "We have seen that many middle schoolers are starting to ride. Some of our bigger high school teams have local middle schools overflowing with kids who want to get on their high school teams."

    McInerny said the pilot program is a chance to figure out what works and what doesn't with the younger students and to learn some lessons. When he asked League Directors who was interested in including middle schoolers, Minnesota and Utah volunteered.

    "They had parents asking, 'What do I do with my seventh or eighth graders?' Those leagues have started and practices are underway."

    McInerny noted that the involvement of middle schoolers will not focus on racing, but about getting them to have fun and enjoy mountain biking. "We don't want to overemphasize the competition side of it. We want it to be fun among their peers first."

    The way the program is working, seventh and eighth graders who want to participate can form a club at their middle school. They have to have a coach who has gone through NICA's training. Then, if the high school team and its coach and riders agree, they can allow the middle schoolers to join in one or several practices per week, with a focusing on skills and riding. They'll also start to learn some basic trail-side mechanical skills.

    At some race TBD in the middle of the pilot league seasons, middle schoolers will be invited to attend and participate in a race, likely between 45 minutes and one hour long.

    "It's a chance to be on same course...

  • Zirbel returns from broken collarbone

    Tom Zirbel (Optum) spent another day working hard on the front.
    Article published:
    August 20, 2013, 22:06 BST
    Cycling News

    Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies rider races at USA Pro Challenge

    US national time trial champion Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) is back in the USA Pro Challenge peloton after breaking his collarbone at the Cascade Cycling Classic in July.

    The Optum rider won the time trial championship in June, then took the sprints classification at the Parx Philly Cycling Classic. He hit the podium in several mid-west regional races before helping teammate Mike Friedman claim the overall win at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. He took a small break before starting things up again at Cascade, where he crashed out of the breakaway on the final day.

    "It was just one of those dumb things," Zirbel said of the crash. "Another rider was actually trying to hand me something - ice or something. I looked over to try and grab it just as someone was slowing down in front of me. So it was just overlapped wheels, and I landed wrong - just enough to break [the collarbone] slightly."

    Zirbel said the bones were not displaced and healed relatively quickly, allowing him to ride outside within a week and to put 100 percent focus on the race in Colorado, where he now lives.

    "I feel really good, but I've raced like seven times in the last two months," Zirbel said. "So I feel like I'm a little under-raced, but I really just feel good. And it's not often as a pro where you get to focus 100 percent on a race for two or three weeks, so that's been nice."

    Zirbel said the Optum team is hoping to make it onto the podium, citing several opportunities for team sprinter Ken Hanson and other opportunities that will present themselves for breakaways. The rider known for his size and power output said he is also looking forward to wearing his stars-and-stripes kit during the stage 5 time trial in Vail,...

  • Lesotho struggles to send its first team to Worlds

    Four top riders from Lesotho lining up for the finals of an elminator race on August 17. From left to right: Phetetso Monese (marathon national champion), Teboho Khantsi (road national champion), Lichaba West (junior cross country national champion) and Tumisang Taabe (elite cross country national champion and President of the National Federation).
    Article published:
    August 22, 2013, 10:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Seven athletes trying to get to Pietermaritzburg

    The small African nation of Lesotho is aiming to send its first-ever team to a world championships. The nation has named a total of seven riders to the squad for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa starting on August 26.

    "The seven athletes have earned their place by consistently high results in the country and outside. They have outperformed everyone else in the national championships. Lesotho is ranked 43rd in UCI rankings - third of African nations and all the riders in our team are ranked in UCI cross country rankings," said Mark West of Lesotho Cycling to Cyclingnews.

    Unfortunately for the riders, their attendance at Worlds may be jeopardized by a lack of funding.

    "We recently heard devastating news - that some of our funding for the MTB World Championships has fallen through and now we are desperately trying to secure more funding," said West. "We have been granted an allocation for up to five out of the seven riders through our National Olympic Committee programmes, but we do not feel it is fair to leave the other two selected riders out of the team after training and dreaming for so long."

    The country's national federation runs on an annual budget of $6000, and while political wrangling has temporarily tied up those funds, West said his group has not been deterred from holding a full calendar of races and events throughout the season.

    "Unfortunately, the cost to send the additional riders to world champs - although small compared to other national federation budgets - is well beyond us," said West.

    "The team riders themselves are from very poor backgrounds. Some have dropped out of school because parents could not afford school fees, and others are self-employed trying to eke out a living for themselves and their families. The Worlds are only 'round the corner in...