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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, February 2, 2012

Date published:
February 02, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • South Africa World Cup course gets facelift

    Pietermaritzburg downhill World Cup course designer course designer Nigel Hicks
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 20:49 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Some tweaks planned for fastest course on the circuit

    With the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg fast approaching, downhill course designer Nigel Hicks is chomping at the bit to give the Cascades MTB park track a facelift.

    Renowned for the tough flat middle section, the Pietermaritzburg track may not always be international riders' favourite venue, but is one that brings balance to the UCI downhill calendar and sets a unique challenge for riders.

    "The Cascades track is not a technical track by any means. However, due to the unfortunate lie of the land, it's one of the most physically demanding tracks in the world, particularly because of the lung busting pedal section in the middle," said Hicks.

    "We may have been gifted leftover materials from the construction in the centre's car park though which, if this is the case, we'll use these to make a couple of changes to the finish and podium area and then a few subtle changes to the middle section.

    "It would make a big difference if we could make things flow better through the middle section and even though it would still be very much a pedal section these changes should really help reduce the time it takes riders to get through this tough stretch," he said.

    Smaller may well be better when it comes to the planned course alterations with subtle variations of existing features potentially having a significant impact.

    "We'd look to shift the two table tops just before the N3 stretch down the road a couple of metres and make both of them a little bigger. That would make them 23 metres and 20 metres respectively and, together with moving them, would really help make this stretch a little shorter time wise," said Hicks.

    "We're going to be laying down granite overburden on the entire course, which will make a massive difference when it rains and could even speed things up even further," he said.

    The Cascades course is one of the fastest tracks around and the apparent lack of numerous tight twists and...

  • Gallery: Whole Athlete-Specialized Team training camp

    The 2012 Whole Athlete - Specialized Team
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 22:10 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team holds first team camp of 2012 in Marin County

    As it enters its fourth season, the Whole Athlete-Specialized Cycling Team held its first training camp of 2012 at the Whole Athlete Performance Center in Marin County, California. Fourteen juniors, six U23s, three athlete-mentors, and five coaches came together to take part in the holistic methodology that defines the successful development program. Riders were treated to organic food, yoga classes, sport psychology workshops, kinesiology taping, foam rolling techniques, and of course epic training rides in West Marin and on Mt. Tamalpais. After an unusually dry Northern California winter, the skies opened up just in time to douse the camp. Despite the timing, the cold, wet weather could not dampen the riders' high spirits.

    Having just earned the distinction of USA Cycling's 2011 Mountain Bike Club of the Year and a recipient of the Center of Excellence award, the Whole Athlete-Specialized Team looks to build on its continued success as it forges ahead. For the 2012 season, the team's focus continues to be the US Pro XCT series and National Championships, as well as the two North American World Cups and qualifying riders to the world championships for the fourth straight year.

    Among the returning riders for 2012 are 2011 junior 15-16 cross country national champions Lucas Newcomb and Kate Courtney, both entering the Junior 17-18 field this year. New additions to the team include 2011 MTB and cyclo-cross world Championship team member Cypress Gorry, and NorCal High School League Frosh Series Champion Sean Bennett.

    Guided by its philosophy of "dedication, integrity and fun", the Whole Athlete-Specialized Development Team is a non-profit funded program providing young cyclists avenues to the highest levels of the sport.

    2012 Whole Athlete - Specialized Team Roster

    Junior Men
    Jacob Albrecht (17-18)
    ...

  • Real Insurance XCM series announced for 2012

    Dylan Cooper and Matt Fleming at the Real Insurance XCM series
    Article published:
    February 01, 2012, 2:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Second edition adds a round

    CycleNation together with Real Insurance announced the event line-up for Australia's biggest mountain bike series, the Real Insurance XCM Series. After a successful inaugural series in 2011, which drew more than 4,500 participants across all of the events, the series is expanding to Victoria with the inclusion of the Wombat 100.

    With more than AUS$17,000 on the line, this year the overall series winners in both the men and women's categories will not only be awarded, but so will the overall category winners.

    Participants' top three events out of six will count towards their overall series ranking, which means there will be more competition from interstate riders.

    "It's great to be involved in the Real Insurance XCM Series again in 2012 particularly as it expands to Victoria," Real Insurance Head of Marketing Anne Grobler said. "We look forward to increasing the profile of mountain biking in this country."

    2012 Real Insurance XCM Series

    March 17 - Round 1: Capital Punishment
    April 22 - Round 2: Wombat 100
    May 5 - Round 3: Convict 100
    June 30 - Round 4: Stevens Bikes Husky 100ker
    September 1 - Round 5: Wollombi Wild Ride
    November 11 - Round 6: Briars Highland Fling

    For more information about the series, visit www.cyclenation.com.au.

  • Giant Factory Team announced for 2012

    Liam Killeen (Giant Factory Off-Road) has his sights set on the Olympic Games in London.
    Article published:
    February 01, 2012, 16:04 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    DH world champion Hart and XC Olympian Killeen lead diverse team

    On the heels of its most successful year ever, the Giant Factory Off-Road Team rolls into the 2012 season with new goals, the rainbow stripes of a world champion, and plenty of momentum.

    Danny Hart, the reigning downhill world champion, returns to lead the downhill division of the squad. In just his second season on the pro circuit last year, Hart rocketed through the ranks on his Giant Glory. The 20-year-old Briton scored three World Cup podiums and won the world championship with an electrifying ride in Champéry, Switzerland.

    "It was a wild ride in 2011," Hart said. "I've been training hard in the off-season, and I'm looking forward to another great year with Giant."

    As in years past, the 2012 team represents the diversity of mountain biking in all its forms. In downhill and cross country, from the Olympics and World Cup competition to sell-out festivals, marathons and enduro events, the team covers the broad spectrum of off-road racing.

    Hart is joined on the World Cup circuit by Andrew Neethling, who had his best season ever last year after joining forces with Giant. Neethling won the South African National Championship and the Jeep Air DH event at Crankworx Whistler, and he found his stride on the World Cup circuit, scoring a career-best third-place finish in Windham, New York. Neethling finished 15th in the World Cup and is aiming for a top-10 standing this year.

    The cross country team is led by four-time British Champion Liam Killeen. The 29-year-old joined Giant last year to boost his bid for the 2012 London Olympics. He raced his XtC Advanced SL to the British National Championship and has big goals for 2012. With the Olympics being held in his...

  • South Africa scoops 2013 Masters Mountain Bike Worlds

    Director of the 2013 UCI Masters Mountain Bike World Championships
    Article published:
    February 01, 2012, 19:46 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Event to be held back-to-back with elite Worlds for first time

    Cycling South Africa clinched another coup by winning the rights to stage the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, a week before the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships will take place at the same venue.

    The announcement was made at the International Cycling Union (UCI) management committee meeting last Friday afternoon at cyclo-cross Worlds, confirming that the masters MTB event will be bolted onto the elite world championships at the Cascades MTB Park next year.

    The awarding of the Masters Worlds to South Africa is significant at a number of levels. The Masters Worlds has for the last five years been held in Brazil, and in 2013 it will for the first time be a precursor to the elite world championships.

    "It will be a fantastic opportunity for local mountain bike riders over 30 years of age to ride in the Masters World Champs," said event director Alec Lenferna.

    "More than that, it is a major vote of confidence in CyclingSA, and for Pietermaritzburg as a premier cycling destination," he said. "Hosting events like the UCI BMX Worlds, the UCI MTB World Cup and the UCI World Cycling Tour finals really puts CyclingSA on the global map."

    Pietermaritzburg has hosted the UCI BMX World Championships and Supercross, the UCI MTB World Cup, the Msunduzi Road Challenge leg of the UCI World Cycling Tour, and will this year host the UCI MTB World Cup and the final of the UCI World Cycling Tour, and is eagerly looking forward to hosting the UCI MTB World Championships in 2013.

    "Pietermaritzburg's vision is to become a globally recognised centre of excellence for cycling, and a hospitable and top class host of world class events," said Lenferna.

    The next major international event, the UCI MTB World Cup, in Pietermaritzburg will place at the Cascades MTB Park from March...

  • Local hero predicted to take out Motatapu Mountain Bike Title

    Mark Williams (Willy) racing at the 2011 Motatapu event
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 2:40 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Williams and Fluker picked as favorites

    Motatapu Race Director Gemma Boyle is predicting a local to win the 2012 Motatapu Mountain Bike men's race title for the first time in the event's history.

    "Winning the Motatapu has proved an elusive title with only three men's winners in the seven years the event has been run, and four winners in the women's field," she said.

    Local Queenstown legend Mark Williams (Willy) has finished inside the top 10 every year for the last five years.

    "Mark has been training hard for the Cape Epic race in South Africa and recent races show he is peaking nicely for Motatapu coming up on March 10th. With his experience on the course, we are picking him for a win, especially with the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships clashing with the Motatapu this year."

    Williams says while he'd like to race the Oceania Championships, he loves Motatapu and considers the race as the same level of competition as the Oceania race.

    "With some of the boys being away at the Oceania, it leaves a few podium spots," he said. "I should have a good shot at one of those podium positions."

    Mark sees Brent Miller from Christchurch as his main competition and reports that Miller has openly stated he wants a shot at the record. Miller was just over a minute faster than Williams at the 2011 event.

    "With the track hard and fast this year with the dry weather we've been having, we should have a crack at the record time," said Williams. "While it will be hard to beat Anton (Cooper)'s time (1:48:43), with a hard track and favourable winds we should be in with a shot," he said.

    Williams will also be riding his weapon of choice, a 29-inch mountain bike, which he expects to be faster over the Motatapu course.

    As an added incentive, organizers are offering a special prize for anyone who breaks the course record this year.

    "The women's race looks wide open as well," said Boyle, with her pick being Kate Fluker from Dunedin. There are...

  • Team CF returns for its third season

    Brandon Draugelis (Team CF)
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 17:35 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Off-road team adds two racers to its roster

    Riding high after two successful introductory seasons, Team CF is returning in 2012 for its third year as one of the top elite teams on the domestic endurance and cyclo-cross circuits. The American team will keep its elite riders from last year plus will add a few more to its growing roster.

    Last year, the elite mountain bike squad focused on the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series as well as other select 100-mile events and off-road stage races and came away as a dominant force, putting at least one argyle-clad Team CF rider on the podium at nearly every race it attended.

    Christian Tanguy racked up five 100-mile wins, ensuring his place as the 2011 NUE series champion. He also claimed his fifth consecutive Michigan cross country state championship title.

    Former NUE champion Cheryl Sornson and Selene Yeager teamed up and scored an impressive eighth place in the overall GC at the Cape Epic stage race in Africa. Domestically, Sornson won three 100-mile races and took second overall in the NUE series as well as repeated her 2010 overall championship placing in the Michaux Endurance Series. Along with a pair of MASS endurance series race wins, Yeager placed second overall at both the Trans-Sylvania Epic and Breck Epic stage races, with individual stage wins at both.

    Chris Beck and Brandon Draugelis scored numerous first place and podium spots...

  • Gravity team Hutchinson United Ride expands in 2012

    Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson United Ride Team)
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 20:25 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hannah siblings among top riders joining World Cup-level team

    The Hutchinson United Ride Team announced its roster for 2012 including Mick Hannah, Tracey Hannah, Fabien " CousCous" Cousinié, Guillaume Cauvin and Tim Bentley. Starting out as a conversation in the Morewood Bikes factory some years ago, the gravity team has come along way and now boasts riders from France, South Africa and Australia.

    New for 2012 are title sponsor Hutchinson and the Australian siblings Mick and Tracey Hannah.

    "I'm excited to be joining with United Ride. We have very similar goals for the next two years, and I feel like with the support of Morewood and Hutchinson and the great atmosphere within the team, we can achieve all that we set out to do," said Mick Hannah.

    "I am also excited about the opportunity to travel and race with Tracey. She is really focused right now and I think that together, along with the rest of the team, we will have a great season! It's going to be a great year!"

    Tracey Hannah is making her comeback to racing. The former junior women's downhill champion is back with more motivation and speed than ever. She will participate in select World Cup rounds in 2012.

    "Racing on the World Cup Circuit!" exclaimed Tracey Hannah. "What is even more amazing, I will be racing right beside my big bro 'Sick Mick', who taught me some of the things I know. There is nothing better than feeling confident and ready going into a season, and because of United Ride we both can relax knowing we will be on one of the best teams out there, riding with some awesome new gear. I can't wait to see what unfolds in the up and coming months. I couldn't be happier!"

    Cauvin finished third at the last junior world championships in Champéry while fellow Frenchman Cousinié will double up as team manager and rider.

    "In 2011, I was in the top 20 during the...