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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, February 17, 2011

Date published:
February 17, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Hermida preps for season in Mallorca

    Jose Antonio Ramos Hermida (Muiltivan Merida) is always jovial at the starting line
    Article published:
    February 14, 2011, 21:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    World Champion participates in annual Multivan Merida team camp

    Road racers are not the only pros who spend pre- or early season time in Mallorca. Cross country mountain bike world champion Jose Antonio Hermida travelled to Mallorca, where he is spending the next 10 days with his Multivan Merida Team.

    The Multivan Merida Team has spent the past several years meeting up in Mallorca before the European mountain bike season kicks off. 2011 marks Hermida's seventh year racing with the team, and he remains under contract with the squad through the end of 2012.

    "Mallorca is the first contact between staff and team after the winter break. This is where we get the official material of the season, and it is the time to do long-distance training sessions with the teammates," said Hermida.

    The training camp marks the countdown until Hermida's first days of racing in 2011. Those initial races will all be part of the build-up to the opening cross country World Cup on the final weekend of April in South Africa.

    Just prior to the Multivan Merida team camp, Hermida completed physical tests to help him measure his form. He reported good results including being within 100g of his weight of last year, producing higher wattages and less lactate.

    "I feel like a junior," said the amiable Hermida. "It seems that I am getting better as years go by and this reassures me that cyclo-cross is a great way to maintain a good level during the winter months, as I have done in recent seasons."

    Hermida spent the winter racing cyclo-cross and finished second in the Spanish national championships in that discipline.

  • London 2012 Olympics mountain bike race schedule set

    Maddie Horton speeds through a banked turn on the London area Olympic mountain bike course.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2011, 15:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    Two days of cross country racing on final weekend of the Games

    The best cross country mountain bikers in the world will battle for Olympic Games medals on August 11 and 12, 2012. The organisers, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), revealed the competition schedule for the Hadleigh Farm, Essex, venue.

    Mountain bikers will compete on the final weekend of the Olympic Games in front of 20,000 spectators per day.

    The women will race for approximately two hours starting at 12:30 BST on Saturday, August 11, while the men will compete for about the same amount of time beginning at 13:30 BST on Sunday, August 12.

    Tickets will be available for £45 and £20. Each person is limited to purchasing up to 10 tickets. There will be discounts for those aged 16 or under and those aged 60 and over (as of July 27, 2012). Applications to purchase Olympic Games tickets will be accepted starting on March 15, 2011.

    The partially completed Olympic mountain bike course was revealed in October. Construction began in July and is expected to be finished in the spring of 2011. The venue consists of open, grassy hillsides and has few natural technical features.

    A test event will be run on the new course this summer.

  • Sand Creek International Classic still a go, but shrinks to one-day event

    Todd Wells (Specialized) wins the XCC race and the Pro-XCT series.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2011, 18:54 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Updated: Colorado Springs round of US Pro XCT no longer a stage race

    The Sand Creek International Classic, the fifth stop on the 2011 US Pro Cross Country Tour (US Pro XCT) is downsizing from a three-day UCI-categorized stage race to a one-day UCI category 2 cross country race for 2011. The Colorado Springs, Colorado, event is also swapping venues for its third edition.

    "It looks we are a go for a one-day Pro XCT C2 cross country race," said Race Director Andy Bohlmann to Cyclingnews. "We will also be changing the venue to Palmer Park within the city of Colorado Springs - the most popular place to ride your bike in town."

    Organizers cited financial considerations, experience and administrative errors as the reasons for the changes. Despite recent rumors to the contrary, the race will go on, albeit in a reduced, more manageable format for 2011.

    "This year, I've trimmed the budget to bare bones, but we meet all the requirements," said Bohlmann to Cyclingnews. "We want to do a really good race and concentrate on it happening again in 2012."

    Admin problems

    The organizing company, Sand Creek Sports, Inc, applied to the UCI for "XCS" or cross country stage race status for its 2011 race. The application was filed last summer per the UCI's inscription schedule.

    "I submitted my dates for June 17-18-19 for 2011. And we had to submit our technical guide, too," said Bohlmann. "It was just a week and a half after our last year's event that we were supposed to submit the technical guide, and our venue director was tied up. I sent a copy of our 2010 technical guide with a note saying it would be the same for 2011 as 2011 except we would start the pro men and women earlier in the day."

    "I heard nothing until three days before the UCI Mountain Bike Worlds, when USA Cycling emailed me and asked me for the tech guide for 2011. I just couldn't get our Venue Director to turn it around in three days."

    Without the required 2011 technical guide, the...

  • Highland Fling added to Australian Real Insurance marathon series

    A stream crossing at the Highland Fling
    Article published:
    February 16, 2011, 5:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    Five NSW races comprise 2011 series

    The 2011 Real Insurance Marathon Series will contain five events in Australia. Organized by Wild Horizons, the Highland Fling is the newest addition to the series and will serve as the final round.

    "We've been discussing our involvement... and are really pleased to add the Fling into the Series. It not only gives the elite riders something else to aim at but should be a lot of fun for all the riders measuring their marathon performances against their mates," said Huw Kingston of Wild Horizons.

    The Highland Fling attracts 2,000 racers annually.

    Each of the five series events includes a marathon and a half marathon. The marathon (90 to 120km) caters to serious, fit riders while the half marathons (35 to 60km) are for riders of all abilities.

    The objective of the series is to combine the biggest marathon mountain bike events in NSW into a high profile series.

    A total cash prize purse of AUS$15,000 will be awarded to the overall winners of the different series categories.

    The Real Insurance Cross Country Marathon Mountain Bike Series will include the following events:

    March 19: Capital Punishment, Canberra
    May 1: Dirtworks 100km, St. Albans, Wisemans Ferry
    June 19: Husky 100km, Huskinson, Callala Beach
    September 24: Angry Doctor, Mogo
    November 12: Highland Fling, Southern Highlands

    For more information on the marathon series, visit

  • Niyonshuti on track to be first Rwandan mountain biker at Olympic Games

    Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) and fans after he qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games
    Article published:
    February 16, 2011, 15:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cyclist overcomes genocide and personal tragedy

    It took a long time, 20 years to be exact, but at long last Rwanda has a cyclist who is good enough to represent the country at the Olympic Games. Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) made cycling history last weekend when he finished fourth in the elite men's cross country race of the African Continental Championship at Jonkershoek, near Stellenbosch. In doing so, Niyonshuti did not merely qualify for next year's Olympic Games in London, he was also the first Rwandan mountain biker ever to do so.

    The last time that cyclists of Rwanda competed at the Olympic Games was in Barcelona in 1992, when a team of six road cyclists participated.

    Niyonshuti has matured from a shy, young man to an internationally competitive cyclist. Much of that maturation has come while racing in South Africa - he is regular in the South African mountain bike race scene.

    Doug Ryder, team-owner of MTN/Qhubeka, described Niyonshuti's progress as a mountain biker during the past two years as an amazing and gratifying achievement for him, as well as for his country. "Something that started out as a dream when we began to work with Adrien two years ago after seeing him at the African Continental Cycling Centre has now become a reality." Ryder credited Niyonshuti's work ethic as well as his team's sponsors and partners.

    "In 2009, Adrien achieved two third places in mountain bike races. In 2010, he won not only three mountain bike races but also the Rwandan National Road Championships, and today he qualified for a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games for his country. Incredible development by a rider who keeps getting better and winning more races every year. The future is bright for him."

    Niyonshuti is a firm believer in the principle that any cyclist is only as good as his last race and persuading him to talk about his cycling success is always a challenge. He is not...

  • Thousands head to Kona's 24 Hours of Old Pueblo

    Tucson resident Chloe Forsman will be anchoring the "Chloe
    Article published:
    February 16, 2011, 19:45 GMT
    Dave McElwaine/

    Plenty of pros in attendance to begin US domestic racing season

    Mountain biking seems to have returned to its roots with multi-day festivals becoming more popular every year. Not since the early days of the Sea Otter Classic and the Cactus Cup have we seen such enthusiasm in the ranks of recreational racers. This weekend's race in Tucson is a prime example.

    Mountain bikers from around the world are arriving in Tucson, Arizona, to participate in the 12th annual Kona Bikes 24 Hours of Old Pueblo being held at Willow Springs Ranch. The organizer claims it is the largest 24-hour mountain biking event in the United States. While the event is called a "race", the festival atmosphere dominates, with many racers unconcerned about their placings, let alone winning the race.

    "We are heading down to see the beautiful Southwest desert in springtime, have a beer under the night sky, and watch people race bicycles through the cactus gardens- it's FUN!" said Veteran racer Shannon Gibson (No Tubes).

    Epic Rides President Todd Sadow described the event as "a huge party that happens to have a mountain bike race going on nearby." The event expo area also includes over 30 vendors.

    1,850 participants plus up to 2,000 supporters and spectators and will be living in "24 Hour Town", a makeshift city filled with tents, campers, RVs, and people sleeping under the stars. The city will be buzzing with activity including round-the-clock barbecue, children playing frisbee, and spectators watching the race from the comfort of their lounge chairs. The race organization prides itself on the fact that this town leaves no trace whatsoever in the desert once the event is over.

    Riders will enjoy a fast 16.1-mile Sonoran Desert course with spectacular views of Mount Lemmon and the Catalina Mountains. The terrain is rolling with a combination of hard pack, sand, and rock surfaces. The weather forecast is optimal, complete with a big full moon to aid with nighttime visibility. While the course is designed to be rideable...

  • Tech news: Sneak peek at Giant's new XtC Composite 29er

    Check out the curious twist in the rear stays.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 0:37 GMT
    James Huang, technical editor

    Long-awaited arrival could make a splash soon

    Giant isn't saying much right now but a short video released yesterday reveals the existence of what many riders have been waiting for: an XtC Composite 29er carbon race hardtail.

    "Sometimes a dually isn't the right option," said Giant factory team rider – and well-known 29er aficionado – Carl Decker in the video. "What I really wanted was a full-on race bike 29er hardtail. For some races, it just doesn't get any better than that."

    Several design features are evident from the short clip, with many elements borrowed from Giant's TCR Advanced road range and 'girth' being a clear design objective to tackle two common criticisms associated with big-wheeled frame design: vague handling and wimpy steering.

    The OverDrive front end uses a tapered head tube – but in the 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" dimension more common to mountain bikes – with an enormous cross-section that is expected to yield excellent front-end stiffness. That bulbous head tube area joins with a broad and slightly flattened top tube and a simply gargantuan rectangular-profile down tube. By our eyes, the seat tube starts out fairly narrow up top but morphs into a much broader and flatter shape down below.

    The chain stays also use a large rectangular section and are very widely spaced thanks to the extra-wide PowerCore bottom bracket with press-fit cups.

    Both the chain stays and wishbone-style seat stays sport a curious twist as they connect to the aluminum dropouts (Giant has previously told us that "composite dropouts are scary") and post mount-style brake tabs are cleanly integrated into the rear end.

    Cabling is external throughout for easier setup and maintenance and tyre clearance looks very generous.

    Giant's new design is also highly asymmetrical, with an offset down tube to maximise the available space on the bottom bracket while...

  • Graves commences campaign to snatch back world title

    Jared Graves (Australia) and Tomas Slavik (Czech Republic)
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 4:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    Four cross battle coming up at Australian Nationals

    With just over a week to go until the 2011 Australian Mountain Bike Championships, the UCI's World number-one ranked rider Jared Graves is geared up to tackle the brand new, purpose-built four cross track at Eagle Park in Adelaide.

    In his first appearance for the domestic season, the Queenslander will take to the start line of the highly contested elite men's four cross race on Thursday, February 24, holding high hopes of taking out the national title.

    A seasoned rider, the 28-year-old is no stranger on the world stage having represented Australia in BMX, downhill and his primary discipline, four cross.

    2009 marked a hugely celebrated year for Graves who became four cross World Cup champion before going on to win the UCI mountain bike four cross world championships on home soil in Canberra.

    Graves said he is determined to snatch back the rainbow stripes after narrowly missing gold at the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships to Czech rider, Tomas Slavik.

    "I have been working closely with my coach and training hard for the nationals," Graves said. "If I were to win, I would be a step closer to claiming back the world title at the championships later this year."

    "I am feeling confident and hope to be up there with some of the fastest riders as the race progresses into its final stages."

    Graves is well aware of the stiff competition he will face with some of Australia's most skilled elite riders including Graeme Mudd, current national series leader and state champion Blake Nielsen, Richard Levinson, Ryan Hunt and Ryan Chesney amongst the confirmed line up.

    Although three-time national champion, Luke Madill recently suffered a minor hip injury during a training...