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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, February 21, 2013

Date published:
February 21, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • North American Enduro Tour releases 2013 calendar

    A racer at the Oregon Enduro, which will be part of the North American Enduro Tour for 2013
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 20:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Seven rounds happening from May to September

    The North American Enduro Tour is back for 2013 and will include dates from the Oregon Enduro Series, the Big Mountain Enduro Tour and stops at Crankworx Whistler and the Colorado Freeride Festival. It features seven rounds in the USA and Canada running from May to September.

    "The North American Enduro Tour is proud to provide world class mountain bike enduro events again for 2013," said Devon Lyons, General Manager of the Oregon Enduro Series.

    "Athletes have come to expect competitive, well organized, high level events from us over the past couple of years and we want to work to share the sport of enduro racing via the best venues on the continent."

    The North American Enduro Tour is in its third year of operation. Its simple format involves timed (descending) stages linked by transfer (climbing) stages that are not factored into the overall structure of results.

    2013 North American Enduro Tour
    May 25-26: Oregon Enduro - Hood River, Oregon
    July 6-7: Big Mountain Enduro - Keystone, Colorado
    July 21-22: Wasatch Enduro - Canyons Resort, Utah
    July 25-28: Colorado Freeride Festival - Winter Park, Colorado
    August 9-10: Crankworx Whistler - Whistler, British Columbia
    September 8-9: Oregon Enduro - Mt. Hood, Oregon
    September 28-29: Big Mountain Enduro - Moab, Utah

  • Buchanan eyes Australian national downhill title

    Four cross world champion Caroline Buchanan
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 21:57 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former four cross star will battle Hannah in Canberra

    Caroline Buchanan will be aiming to continue her unbeaten form in 2013 when she competes in the Australian women's downhill championships in Canberra this weekend. Buchanan is currently undefeated in the 2013 Australian Gravity Cup National Series after claiming victories at Mount Buller and Thredbo, with the 22-year-old looking to add a downhill national title to her glittering resume.

    "Buller was really rocky and quite a short and technical course," Buchanan said. "Thredbo was really long and physically demanding and Stromlo is short course with jumps. "They are all completely different tracks and if I can do well and win all three, then I know I have most of the whole package of riding before world championships selection."

    Buchanan made her return to mountain biking after a stellar 2012 BMX season in which she won the BMX time trial world championships, finished in fifth place on her Olympics Games debut in London and was crowned the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup champion.

    Next week, the Canberra native, who claimed the 2007 and 2008 under 19 downhill national titles, returns to her home track and the site of her 2009 four cross world championship victory.

    "I haven't raced at Stromlo since I raced at worlds in 2009 so it's been a while, it will be nice to be back in my hometown and hopefully have everyone out cheering," said Buchanan. "I have done a little bit of practice on the track in Canberra. They've changed it, they have some really cool new sections they've put in which has made it fresh and exciting."

    Buchanan's run to the top of the sport may be halted by the return of four-time national champion and former under 19 world champion Tracey Hannah.

    Hannah, who suffered a broken femur after a serious crash during a training run at a World Cup event in France in July 2012,...

  • Vos to open mountain bike race season in Cyprus

    Marianne Vos (NED) riding in second position
    Article published:
    February 19, 2013, 17:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    Top notch women's field expected at Sunshine Cup

    Olympic, road and 'cross world champion Marianne Vos will race round 2 of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, the SHC-categorized Afxentia mountain bike stage race, on March 1 to 3. The Dutch woman will participate in the race while doing a training camp on the island of Cyprus.

    "This is a really big honor to have Marianne Vos at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup," said Mike Hadjioannou head of the race organizing group Bikin' Cyprus.

    Vos used to race her mountain bike before switching her focus for much of her elite-level racing career to road, track and cyclo-cross. She won the 2012 London Olympic road race and the road world championships in 2006 and 2012. She is the reigning 'cross world champion as of earlier this month and also has previous world titles on the track.

    The only cycling discipline where she lacks a world championship medal is mountain biking. She finished fourth at the Worlds in Livigno while racing there as a junior in the cross country race in 2005.

    Vos will compete on the Giant Pro Cross Country team off-road this season while also racing for the Liv/Giant Team on the road.

    She will come to race in Cyprus with her young teammate, Jolanda Neff. The 20-year-old is the current U23 cross country world champion.

    The Afxentia stage race spans three days and is drawing a top notch field, including three-time Olympic medal winner Sabine Spitz (Haibike) and 2011 world championship bronze medallist Eva Lechner (Colnago-Südtirol).

    It will be Lechner's first time at the Sunshine Cup, and like many riders, she is using the first two rounds to prepare for the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa. Lechner will be joined by her teammate and 2012 junior world champion Andrea Waldis.

    Other fast women on the start lists in Cyprus include Alexandra Engen, Katrin...

  • Two-time Crocodile Trophy winner Huber ready for Cape Epic

    Urs Huber of Stokli Pro during stage 1 of the 2012 Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race
    Article published:
    February 19, 2013, 21:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider to partner with four-time Cape Epic winner Platt

    Crocodile Trophy winner Urs Huber will pair up with Karl Platt as the Bulls team for the first time at this year's Cape Epic. The mountain bike stage race, now in its 10th year, will kick off with a prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate on Sunday, March 17 and end eight days later on Sunday, March 24 at its long-established Lourensford Wine Estate finish. It will be Huber's fourth time competing in the Cape Epic.

    Huber, 27, enjoys participating in the Cape Epic "because it's one of the biggest races for a mountain biker to win. Karl is a four-time winner of the Epic, so he knows everything about the race and how to win it. I'm sure that I can profit a lot by riding with him."

    "Of course our goal is to win some stages and an overall podium finish, but it won't be easy. There’s never an easy stage in the Epic. We'll give our best and see what happens."

    Huber started mountain biking in 2001 and turned pro in 2007. He and Platt have been training together quite a bit since the beginning of this year.

    "It's important as this will be our first Epic as a team. I really hope that we have no bad days during the race and race well as a team. We'll give it our all every day."

    Huber's favorite Cape Epic memory is finishing in second place in stage 1 in 2011. "But I couldn't complete the race as I broke my arm. My hardest Cape Epic was my first one in 2009. I didn't know before just how tough a race can be. Once you reach the finish line, you feel tired, happy and relieved. The race can be summed up in one word - indescribable!"

    Huber won the bronze medal in the marathon world championships in Italy (2008), the European Championships in Germany (2008) and the Swiss Championships (2009). He is also...

  • McConnell and King rally ahead of Australian mountain bike nationals

    The start of the elite men's race with Lachlan Norris, Paul van der Ploeg, Dan McConnell and Josh Carlson
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 4:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Both riders aim to defend cross country titles in Canberra

    Reigning Australian cross country national champions Daniel McConnell and Jenni King have predicted tough battles ahead at the 2013 Subaru Australian Mountain Bike Championships in Canberra. The trails of Stromlo Forest Park will host Australia's best mountain bikers from February 20 - 24 as they vie for the coveted green and gold national champions jersey in the cross country, eliminator, trials and downhill disciplines.

    McConnell, a two-time Olympian and Australia's sole male mountain bike representative in London, will go head to head with fellow Victorians Chris Jongewaard Paul van der Ploeg.

    "Last year I had the green and gold jersey, and it was the first time I was able to step it up and get some pretty good results," McConnell said of his international season during which he improved his UCI world ranking from 80th to 22nd.

    "It was pretty cool, and I got a fair bit of recognition out of it. It would be awesome to get that chance again," he said.

    Jongewaard, a five-time cross country national champion, remains undefeated in the 2013 All Mountain Cup National Series after claiming victories in the first two rounds at Mount Buller and Thredbo.

    A four-time former junior national champion, van der Ploeg will be looking to make his mark in Canberra after recently returning to competition from shoulder surgery just two weeks ago, where he enjoyed immediate success by clinching two of three stage wins in Thredbo.

    "Chris (Jongewaard) is a fair level in front of everyone, and I think he's the guy to beat. Paul van der Ploeg is there as well so there will be a few guys to watch out for," McConnell said.

    "It's a fairly technical course, so there are always a few surprises that...

  • Devastated Kevin Evans forced out of Cape Epic

    Kevin Evans (Team FedGroup Itec)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 15:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Stewart to partner with MacDonald instead

    For the first time since the inception 10 years ago of the Absa Cape Epic, an eight-day international mountain bike tour, Kevin Evans (FedGroup Itec) will not be competing. After consulting with the team of doctors treating him, it was decided that it would be unwise for him to ride in the Epic. The body cavity where his appendix was removed has still not drained properly.

    Since October last year, Evans has been in hospital on three occasions to be treated for the same problem.

    However, Evans remains optimistic. "I think the doctors are now, for the first time, treating the cause of my problem instead of just the problem itself. It feels as if the body cavity is, at long last, beginning to close."

    Evans has competed in every Cape Epic up to now and he admits that not being able to compete this year is a great pity. He managed to win four stages in the Cape Epic, and he always finished seventh overall or better.

    Last year he was second overall. "But remember that I am, first and foremost, a husband and a father. Therefore my health will always be my main priority."

    Evans was discharged from hospital last week. He will know by Thursday, after another MRI scan, when he will be able to start training again.

    "I might be able to do the Joburg2C and Sani2C but, if not, it won't be the end of the world. It is important for me to be patient. My biggest goal for the next 18 months will be to try and win a medal at next year's UCI World Marathon Championship in Pietermaritzburg."

    Brandon Stewart, FedGroup Itec rider and team owner, said Evans' withdrawal from the Epic is a great loss.

    "We are all disappointed about it. But we will continue to support Kev 100% until he is back to full strength and on the top step of the podium. I will now do the Cape Epic with Neil MacDonald. He has been in awesome form during the past few weeks."

  • Carey switches focus to shorter mountain bike and cyclo-cross races

    Amanda Carey (Stan's NoTubes Women's Elite Team)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 22:15 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    No more 100-milers for former NUE Series champ

    Amanda Carey spent every stage of the 2012 Breck Epic battling with another rider. The excitement and challenge of that mountain bike stage race got her thinking that it was time for some major changes to her pro racing career. In 2013, she is moving away from 100-milers and toward shorter cross country races and mountain bike stage races. She also is planning a full cyclo-cross season for next fall and winter.

    "Breck Epic was the most fun I had racing my bike all year. Yeah, you're out there suffering and you might have missed a turn, or you might be sick of pushing your bike, but you don't forget to have a good time," Carey said to Cyclingnews.

    "I raced Yolande Du Toit of South Africa every stage last year. She climbs like a mountain goat and is the nicest person on the planet. We were wheel-to-wheel for four hours a day - totally going at each other - it was a turning point of my season when I realized that I liked racing with people."

    Carey spent three years focusing on the 100-mile mountain bike marathons of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, and while she proved that she can win the series, she realized that she wasn't having as much fun any more.

    "I love the format and love the community," said Carey of NUEs. "I'm not burnt out, but it's fair to say I was getting a little bored. It was three years in the series with the same races and competitions. For me, it was starting to feel a little stagnant, and there was a real hardship, and that's why I'm ready to step back from the NUE."

    Carey said she was the only rider on her previous Kenda/Felt Team who focussed on the NUE, making it a lonely endeavor. "I was training alone, travelling alone, flying alone and renting cars alone," she said. "I didn't have a mechanic or team there or teammates. I stayed in hotels alone. You know how 100s go - you're out there riding by yourself. I think I got a bit lonely last year."

    "I had great results and...

  • 2013 UCI Marathon World Series opens this weekend in Sabie

    Team Bulls racers in action in Sabie in 2012
    Article published:
    February 21, 2013, 15:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    European favorites to battle South Africans at Sabie marathon

    Some of Europe's top endurance mountain bikers will be out for revenge at the 2013 UCI Marathon World Series opener in Sabie, South Africa on Saturday. The race comes less than one month before the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race.

    Last year's race turned out to be an unofficial test between the top riders from South Africa and some of Europe's best riders. The local riders eventually dominated, with Kevin Evans taking the win in 2012. Max Knox finished second and David George was third. Germany's Karl Platt, who finished fourth, nine minutes behind Evans, was the best placed international rider. Frenchman Thomas Dietsch, who finished ninth, and Germany’s Tim Bohme (11th) were the next best of the European riders.

    Quite a few of Europe's best marathoners will be back in action at the MTN Sabie. German Steffen Thum, the overall winner of the 2011- 2012 UCI MTB Marathon World Series, has already entered, as has his compatriot Simon Gegenheimer, who finished fourth overall in the same series.

    Thum, who finished 24th overall last year, is no stranger to Sabie. Thanks to his consistency, he managed to finish in the top 25 last year every time he raced in the World Series.

    "I have to be honest with myself. At this stage I am not yet ready to race to win," said Thum. "I will be happy with a top-10 finish. It is important for me to get some points from the race because it is the first of the UCI's World Series."

    Thum reckons it will be tough for the international riders to beat the South Africans on their home turf. "The South Africans are used to the conditions and there is also the matter of pride at stake."

    However, Thum predicts that Platt and his teammates from Team Bulls will be capable of spoiling the local riders' fun.

    Platt, who has won the Cape Epic a record four times (2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011), has become almost a household...