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- Article published:
- February 14, 2011, 21:10
- 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.
- Article published:
- February 15, 2011, 15:21
- 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.
- Article published:
- February 15, 2011, 18:54
- 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."
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 UCI denied the "XCS" status. The technical guide is required for stage races seeking inscription.
"The 2011 UCI event inscription information and forms were sent directly to 2010 UCI organizers on April 29, 2010. The deadline for National Federations to submit the inscription requests and technical guidebooks to UCI was July 30," said Kelli Lusk, National Events Director for USA Cycling. "My deadline for organizers to submit everything to me was July 25. Andy submitted his inscription form and incomplete technical guidebook to me on July 24. He had two months to work on his 2011 UCI event inscription and technical guidebook, so to claim his event was denied based on his technical guidebook is stretching it."
Facing the disappointment of not getting stage race status, Bohlmann said, "I think USA Cycling should have gone to bat for us, but I was told that we would only get a one-day race on the Saturday, June 18, and we ended up with a UCI category two cross country race for 2011." The race remains as part of the US Pro XCT although this year, it is not serving as the finals.
Lusk shared her take on how things unfolded. "Andy expressed multiple times prior to my meeting with UCI (at Mountain Bike Worlds) that they did not think they could do the stage race based on finances. He stated he would send an updated technical guidebook, so I sent him a reminder after UCI requested it for review. After I contacted him, he stated they would stick with the one-day format, so I thought that’s what they wanted to do."
In some ways, managing just one day of racing for the US Pro XCT may work out better for the organizers, who struggled to make the race come out in the black in 2010. Going into 2011, organizers are facing the consequences of lower than expected turnouts in 2010, potentially higher inscription costs and race permit fees for 2011, and the withdrawal of some sponsors.
The first edition of the Sand Creek International Classic came about after Bohlmann attended a USA Cycling Promoters' Summit in the fall of 2008. "We noticed there that we could do a UCI race in 2009 for less than we could do a championship event. Since I was in negotiations with Chris Carmicheal about event sponsorship, I went back to him with a proposal," said Bohlmann. "He was game to support us.
Bohlmann was expecting 200 to 225 racers for the 2009 US Pro XCT event in mid-June, but he ended up with 385 pre-registered racers. The last minute extra logistics were challenging, but the future looked bright.
Building on that success, Bohlmann said he knew exactly what he needed to do for 2010. "July is when you have to submit your UCI dates to USA Cycling for the following year. They need time to submit them to UCI and have them review them at Worlds."
Bohlmann wanted to run the 2010 race for the same mid-June weekend as he did in 2009, but was asked to modify his plans. "Kelli Lusk [of USA Cycling] came back to us and asked us to change to July 9-10. We asked why, and they said it would put our race one week after USA Cycling marathon championships and one week before US Mountain Bike Championships in Granby. We wanted to stay on the same weekend we had, but they noted that was the same weekend as the US 24-hour nationals. We ended up going along with the change."
That's also when Bohlmann and his crew stepped up to run a UCI categorized stage race with a Friday time trial, Saturday cross country and Sunday short track. "USA Cycling thought it was a great idea," he said, "and we decided to do a stage race for the elites and amateurs."
Lusk confirmed that she had suggested the date change and was delighted to hear there would be a UCI-categorized elite stage race in the US, but said the decision to require amateurs to do the stage race was Bohlmann's.
As Bohlmann admits, it proved to be a mistake to run a stage race for the non-elites. "We had 152 riders total for the stage race in 2010. We were down 100 riders off what we'd planned, and that's $10,000. The problem was that there was no date coordination. The Mountain States Cup released their calendar with a date that was on top of ours. And there was another, non-sanctioned race in Winter Park on the same weekend. Because USA Cycling has no presence in Colorado on the mountain bike side, there is no coordination of dates among sanctioned and non-sanctioned events."
Bohlmann pointed out that it wasn't just his race that suffered from the date conflict. "The other Colorado races took a hit, too, in terms of the local pros."
"True, we ended up with some Colorado date conflicts, but we tried to work with all the organizers involved – even going as far as granting the Sand Creek Pro XCT the exclusive and last cross country qualification event in Colorado for the National Championships the following week," said Lusk. "They could have attracted a lot more amateur racers had they not imposed the mandatory stage race requirement for them."
There were additional budget considerations, too. In the race's first two years, Sand Creek Sports had sometimes gotten its USA Cycling permit fee waived or its UCI inscription fee reimbursed, but going into 2011, Bohlmann said no one could tell him for sure which fees would be covered.
"In 2009, USAC waived our permit fee of $700. We paid the UCI inscription fee. In 2010, USAC waived the permit fee of $700 and paid the UCI calendar inscription fee which is about $3000. When it came time to help us with inscription fee this year, they couldn't commit which left us with budget questions."
"I assumed I'd have to pay it all and then on top of that in December, the UCI said that all UCI-registered mountain bike teams have to get free entries into UCI races. From what I can figure out, that's $700 worth of entries."
While Bohlmann expressed some frustration with USAC and the process of inscripting UCI races in the US, he wasn't blaming them for the changes to the race. "USA Cycling has been pretty good to me, but they are not always the easiest to work with."
"From 1984 to 1990, I was their Tech Director and I was on the other side, so I know what it's like. I was on the staff when they purchased NORBA."
When asked if the Sand Creek International was definitely on for 2011, Bohlmann said his drop dead date is February 18, and it looks like the race will happen. "I'm very close to making budget." In part, he attributed the positive picture to his organization cutting the total number of promoted racing days from 10 to five in 2011 as well as Kenda USA for coming onboard with additional sponsorship.
He noted that former title sponsor Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) would remain involved at a local level, but was pulling out of race title sponsorship to pursue other marketing directions.
The final budget-cutting measure helping to keep the race alive is moving the race venue to Palmer Park. "The race was held the past two years at Cheyenne Mountain Park, which is just south of Colorado Springs city limits. We had a great venue, but it was expensive."
In 2010, the race attracted competitors and media from 36 states and six foreign countries. Using Colorado Springs Visitors and Convention Bureau numbers, it is conservatively estimated that there was a $200,000+ of local economic impact. The race in 2009 generated about $150,000. In another four months, the numbers will tell what the impact of the 2011 edition will be.
- Article published:
- February 16, 2011, 05:12
- 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 www.cyclenation.com.au.
- Article published:
- February 16, 2011, 15:43
- 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 boastful after victories because for him that amounts to tempting fate. At most Niyonshuti will, after a good result, say that he was grateful for the way the race played out and maybe, in a sudden rush of blood, he might add that he was happy to have won and that his victory was special to him. Niyonshuti prefers to let his legs do the talking.
Kevin Evans, a former teammate, can vouch for Niyonshuti's hunger to be one of the best. He experienced it first-hand during last year's DCM Cape Pioneer Trek. From the very first day of the tour Niyonshuti was racing flat out to achieve a stage victory. At first, Evans did not realize how important a stage victory was for his teammate.
At De Rust, Evans was caught napping in the sprint to the line by the two Swiss riders, Christoph Sauser and Sylvio Bundi. The stage was won by the Swiss duo, despite the fact that Niyonshuti was the first rider across the line.
The Rwandan rider was bitterly disappointed with the result, but he refused to give up and in the end he was rewarded with the stage victory that he so badly desired.
It was after the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, in an unguarded moment, that Niyonshuti first hinted about how important it was for him to represent his country at the Olympic Games.
When Niyonshuti tells the story of his life, it becomes clear that this is a man who truly lives each minute of every day. The well-known saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going" is certainly applicable to him.
In his 23 years, Niyonshuti has experienced unimaginable horrors, but these setbacks have seemingly just made him more motivated to train harder and push himself to the limit. He meets life's challenges head-on and, by doing so, he sets an example to each and every one of us.
The short version of Niyonshuti's life started in 1994 during the genocide in Rwanda in which nearly 800,000 people (roughly estimated at 20 percent of the country's population) were killed in a period of six months. He lost seven brothers.
According to Jock Boyer, technical director of the Rwanda Cycling Federation, Niyonshuti's best friend, Godfrey, was run over and killed by a motorist while he was riding on his bicycle. Godfrey, an up-and-coming cyclist, was a young orphan who lived with his mentor, Adrien, in Rwanda.
The accident happened 18 months after Niyonshuti's father had died from an unknown disease. Niyonshuti lives with his mother in a town called Rwamagana in Rwanda. He has used his race winnings to make improvements to his mother's house which now has electricity, cement floors and running water.
According to Boyer, Niyonshuti is a rider with a remarkable talent. He also has a drive to succeed that surpasses that of most other athletes.
"When I met him almost four years ago, his perseverance soon became apparent. To take part in the Olympics is an important goal for him, but I sincerely hope that he will be able to continue with his cycling career until long after the 2012 Games. Through his cycling exploits, Adrian has become a symbol of hope for many youngsters in Rwanda."
- Article published:
- February 16, 2011, 19:45
- Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net
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 for the hundreds of recreation racers, there are a few technical sections that should give the more experienced riders an option for more difficulty. But of course, there are usually longer go-arounds for the less adventuresome.
One of the highlights of the weekend is the one quarter-mile Le Mans start. It is quite a sight to see nearly two thousand runners sprinting down a dirt road and then trying to find their bike. Many of the top pros find themselves heading out onto the course behind amateurs who happen to be fast on foot.
Racers will have the opportunity to either race solo or in two- or four-person teams. Some teams will be mixed gender, while others allow riders to combine ages to stay under a total number of years such as 150 or 200.
Top-level talent expected to toe the line includes returning solo champions Anthony "Ant" White (United Kingdom) and Michael Melley (Arizona). While Kona will not be sending a team this year, they are sending Cory Wallace. He is the current 24-hr Canadian national champion, was third at the 24-hour World Championships, and was second in the Trans Rockies stage race. He is a legitimate threat to win.
Other key riders with a solid chance at victory in the solo categories include Steven Yore (New Mexico), Catherine Bywaters (Colorado), Timari Pruis (California) and Lindy Lane (Arizona), Kyle Akin (Arizona) and Albert Lewis (Arizona).
In the duo category, the team of Lynda Wallenfels and Dave Harris is showing promise, while the duo male team of Brian Bennett and Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles) is highly regarded.
In the team category of four+ riders, there will be many recognizable including recognizable names like Keith Bontrager, Dax Massey, Ezekiel Hersh, Dejay Birtch, Shannon Gibson, Ben Sonntag, Chloe Forsman, Sarah Kaufmann, Tyler Coplea, Yuri Hauswald and Matthew Slaven.
Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member Keith Bontrager (Trek Store San Diego) will be making a comeback after recent surgery on both his wrists. It will be his fifth time racing on the Old Pueblo course. With 70 24-hr races to his credit, Bontrager has also noticed the growth of these types of races. "To the extent that festivals are attracting riders...that's a good thing. It will be interesting to see if it helps cross country bikes make a comeback.
"For me, it's about getting in the laps. I will be racing on both a Trek Top Fuel and a 29er hard tail. I plan on doing a couple laps on each. Todd [Sadow] is one of the best promoters in the bike business. He has everything together and he makes everyone as happy as can be," said Bontrager.
Ben Sonntag, winner of La Ruta de los Conquistadores, will be kicking off his 2011 training with a low-key effort at Old Pueblo. "I'll be racing in a five person co-ed team, mostly for fun and good training. It's a mixed team of professional racers, weekend master warriors, and some friends from Durango. It's a great escape from winter and a chance to get excited for the upcoming mountain bike race season.
"It's a relaxed atmosphere, but if you want to do a hot lap you can," said Sonntag. "I guess since we won our category last year we want to defend our title. Besides that, it's about a good time and feeling dirt under the tires!"
Junior 24-hour National Champion Tyler Coplea will also be racing on a five-person coed team that includes none other than former four cross World Champion and multi-time USA National Champion Melissa Buhl. While "Buhly" is certainly no stranger to cross country racing, she is undoubtedly using the race to bump up her fitness level for what is likely to be another run at a world championship.
Coplea talked about the race. "Old Pueblo is one of those races that you think about all year. The atmosphere there is like no other. If you get a flat on the trail, every person that comes by you will ask you if you need a hand. For the four days you are down there it turns into a bike town. Street signs go up and a community of cyclists is built in a matter of hours."
Coplea then said, "This year I will be racing with my new team AZ Devo Cycling (Trek-No Tubes-Bontrager). It is a new junior elite team with our main goal of going to worlds this year. At Old Pueblo we plan on never slowing down, beating our time from last year, and drinking tons of recovery drinks -chocolate milk!"
On paper, the fiercest competition this weekend could come from the elite women's teams. Stan's NoTubes will be sponsoring three teams packed with talent including the NoTubes Elite Women's Team. They will be making their debut in Tucson with hopes of winning in the four-person category.
Team leader Shannon Gibson said, "Stan's NoTubes will be back in cactus country for an early season roll in the cholla with a four-woman relay team that includes big guns Kathy Sherwin, fresh off the Cyclo-cross National Championship podium, and Zephanie Blasi, who is already tearing it up early season as a Tucson local, as well as Nina Baum and NoTubes development rider Kaila Hart in her first ever race as a pro."
Sherwin and Blasi are both accomplished professional cross country riders with many years of experience. As anchors for this new team, they are going to be very difficult to beat.
Chloe Forsman, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona, is also set to compete. She has won countless junior, collegiate, and national cross country titles and will be racing on a five-person team called "Chloe and the Colavitos" along with newly married Melanie Meyers-Colavito.
Colavito described her team. "Although only two of us are 'cyclists' by label, the Colavito family is deep in athletic talent. The group includes myself, my husband Kyle Colavito, and his two younger twin brothers Jason and Jon. Kyle is a Cat. 1 road racer; Jason is pretty much a legend in the Tucson running community; Jon can hop in to any athletic event and succeed.
"In terms of our strategy for the race, we pretty much intend to rock out as much as possible," she said. "That may or may not involve winning the race, but instead winning the 'we-had-more-fun-than-anyone-else-and-still-almost-won' category. My personal race strategy will be to not fall asleep during the late night laps, and not freak out when I come around a corner and encounter a giant cardboard alien in the middle of the night!"
The Kona Bikes 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo raises funds for the Arizona Cancer Center's lung cancer research through its Rideathon fundraising program.
Cyclingnews will be on hand this weekend in Tucson to bring you news and photographs from "24 Hour Town" and the 24 Hours of Old Puebo race.
- Article published:
- February 17, 2011, 00:37
- 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 still clearing the drivetrain. Likewise, the chain stays take entirely different paths from bottom bracket to dropout with the driveside stay drooping down below the cranks to clear the chainrings and the non-driveside stay taking a straight shot – much like what's currently seen on many full-suspension frames.
Details such as claimed frame weight, available sizes, projected cost and even release date were unavailable from Giant.
"Other than the information provided in the video (which I realise is very vague), I unfortunately can't provide any additional details... for now, that is," said Giant global communications manager Andrew Juskaitis. "We will be launching this product later in the season, but other than that, I have to ask you to let your imagination wander."
- Article published:
- February 17, 2011, 04:19
- 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 session, he is in fine form and will prove Grave's biggest rival. It is expected to be a tightly fought contest, and Graves knows he will need to start strong to keep the opposition well out of sight.
"Madill is definitely the one to beat this year after the success he has had over the past few years."
"Experience really counts here and Madill is certainly one of the most experienced riders out there."
"I think it will come down to who is best on the day and I hope I have what it takes to cross the finish line in first position."
In the elite women's category, four cross world champion, Caroline Buchanan will not be competing due to overseas commitments, leaving 2010 national championships bronze medalist, local rider Emily Hockey and Jayne Rutter with a good chance at securing their first national title.
The 2011 Australian Mountain Bike Championships will be held from February 22 to 26.