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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, February 23, 2012

Date published:
February 23, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Platt tops favorites lists for MTN Sabie Marathon

    2011 Sabie marathon winner Karl Platt from Germany
    Article published:
    February 21, 2012, 16:54 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    First 2012 UCI marathon world series set for Saturday

    The MTN Sabie marathon, which is scheduled to take place this coming Saturday, February 25, may turn out to be a dress rehearsal for the Absa Cape Epic.

    Germany's Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (both Team Bulls), who have perfected the art of winning the Epic, have indicated that they will compete in the MTN Sabie race. Kevin Evans and David George (Nedbank360Life), as well as Jacques Rossouw and Brandon Stewart (Team Fedgroup-Itec Connect), will also compete.

    The MTN Sabie will be the first event of the UCI Marathon World Series in 2012, and it is likely that more of the world's best riders will be participating.

    Last year Platt made played the "waiting game" to achieve victory in Sabie. Despite valiant efforts by the South African and Namibian riders to put him under pressure, the German rider refused to be intimidated. He simply continued to ride at his own pace, biding his time for the right moment to dish out his own punishment.

    The Jantjiesbos climb which was a new addition to the race in 2011, definitely has the necessary qualities to become one of the legendary climbs in South African mountain biking. When Platt eventually attacked on the Jantjiesbos climb, it was game over for his opponents within minutes. Not one of the local riders was able to stay with him and his lead of a few seconds quickly turned into minutes.

    The route that the riders had to take to get to the top of the Jantjiesbos climb was a technical challenge with lines to be picked over rough terrain. Afterwards Platt, a four-time winner of the Epic, was full of praise for the way the MTN Sabie marathon...

  • Kleinhans determined to win mixed category at Cape Epic

    Ariane Kleinhans hugging her husband Erik, at the end of the 2011 Cape Epic prologue
    Article published:
    February 21, 2012, 19:08 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team Contego ready to take on 2012 edition of race

    Erik and Ariane Kleinhans, a married couple from Stellenbosch, are aiming to win the mixed category at this year's Absa Cape Epic. The pair will race as Team Contego from March 25 to April 1. This year will be their second Cape Epic together.

    "The Absa Cape Epic is the best known mountain bike stage race in the world and very special in South Africa. If you tell people that you're a mountain biker, they always ask whether you've done the Cape Epic," said Ariane, 28.

    It will be Erik's fifth edition of the race. "We just love to be part of it," he said. "We feel positive about winning the mixed category after we finished second in 2011. But the competition is always tough, and we'll have to work hard for it."

    "We have a bit more experience in stage racing than last year, and I'm also in my second year as a pro rider, with a lot more training and racing in my legs. We really feel we have an excellent chance of winning," said Ariane.

    The pair makes a good team, according to Erik, because they live together, train together and sleep together. "I'm sure our best attribute is the fact that we really care about each other and know each other very well," he said.

    "With Erik's experience of six stage races in the last year, he knows exactly how to motivate and support me, to get the best out of me," said Ariane. "It's actually very easy to be in a team with him, as he is so selfless and helpful all the time. I couldn't have wished for a better partner."

    The two began training to prepare for the Cape Epic this year in December. They started with longer rides and last month added in some intervals.

    "Training together motivates me, especially the interval training," said Ariane. "When I see how hard he's racing, I automatically push myself to the limit. When we do long rides, I usually stay in his slipstream or I ride the road bike, while he's on...

  • Adelaide to host Australia's best this weekend

    Chris Jongewaard leads Paul van der Ploeg and Dan McConnnell
    Article published:
    February 21, 2012, 23:11 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike national champions to be crowned

    Adelaide will once again be the cycling capital of Australia when it hosts the 2012 Australian Mountain Bike Championships from February 22 to 26. This weekend, all eyes will be on the Eagle Mountain Bike Park for five days of cross dountry, downhill, four cross and observed trials action, with a host of Australia's mountain bike elite set to contest the championships.

    Cross country

    With the London 2012 Olympic Games now less than 200 days away, the Olympic format cross country races will attract much of the attention with many mouth watering contests in both the men's and women's fields.

    All Mountain Cup standings leader Andrew Blair has been the most consistent throughout the season to date, taking the win in the opening round in Perth and finishing third in Mt Buller. Blair will face tough opposition from former national champion and 2008 Olympian Dan McConnell, who claimed the honours at both Mt Buller and Stromlo last weekend.

    Four-time national cross country champion Chris Jongewaard will be eager to defend his title as he aims for London, with 2011 under 23 champion Paul Van Der Ploeg showing recent strong form in the elite fields. Sid Taberlay is also be expected to perform strongly.

    In the women's cross country, series leader Jenni King has been in scintillating form taking the win in all three rounds, however a fierce battle looms with defending champion Katherine O'Shea and rising young star Rebecca Henderson, the 2011 Cycling Australia Elite Female Mountain Biker of the year and under 23 national champion. Both are showing solid form of late. The trio will be pushed to the limit however from Tasmania's Rowena Fry who will take a leave of absence from her GreenEdge-AIS team to contest the championships.

    Downhill

    In...

  • Pietermaritzburg cross country course revamp nearly done

    Nick Floros is the man behind the changes being implemented to the 2012 Pietermaritzburg World Cup cross country course
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 10:18 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Shorter Cascades course should better suit climbers

    The cross country course for the 2012 UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa is undergoing a major facelift ahead of the international season-opener from March 15-18, slashing the circuit in half to make life easier for the teams, and offering double the opportunity for the spectators.

    Course designer Nick Floros' layout proved popular at the 2011 event, but left the team support crews struggling to shuttle between the two feed zones that were some distance apart. "The main reason for the change is, with South Africa being quite some way away from where a lot of the teams are based in either Europe or America, they usually aren't able to bring as big a support team with them as usual and hence we needed to rework the practicality of the feed zones," said Floros.

    "Because of this, instead of the previous 5.6-kilometre single loop, we're now going to have a two-loop course with each loop being 2.3 kilometres and the two feed zones on the course now much closer together, which obviously helps the riders' support teams a lot."

    With the changes to the popular Pietermaritzburg track nearing completion, the refreshed appearance of the course is starting to take shape and riders are chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of what they might be in for in less than three weeks' time.

    "The guys will find racing a little bit harder with this new layout, and the track probably suits the climbers in the field a little more than before. They used to have to climb quite a bit in the first half and then could recover on the downhill in the second half," continued Floros.

    "Now they will have to do a bit of a climb initially, then descend a bit, then there's a big climb before the last descent to the finish."

    Spectators heading to Cascades to view the live...

  • Kulhavy uses Sunshine Cup to test form and equipment

    Jaroslav Kulhavy in front of the building of the Cyprus National Olympic Committee
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 16:27 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Czech rider sees series as perfect preparation in Olympic year

    Cross country mountain bike world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) spoke at a press conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Tuesday, just two days after winning the opening round of the Sunshine Cup in Voroklini.

    The Czech racer has become a regular at the early season three-race series, and since the preparation has worked so well for him in the past, he's back again to kick off his season in the same way during this Olympic year.

    "It's the sixth time in a row that I have come to Cyprus to ride the races of the Sunshine Cup," said Kulhavy. "It's a perfect preparation for the season. I like it very much. I can test my form, and I can test my new bike."

    Kulhavy, who is also the defending World Cup champion and one of the favorites for an Olympic gold medal in London in August, finds the technically demanding trails of Cyprus to his liking.

    The Sunshine Cup is organized by the Bikin' Cyprus agency and the Cyprus Cycling Federation. A representative, Alekos Orountiotis, was happy to hear words of praise from Kulhavy. "It's very important to have the world champion here. We are happy he is here. It shows the results of our efforts all these years."

    The Sunshine Cup is one tool of the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) for increasing visitors to the island between November and March, but the series is taking nothing for granted. The recent financial crisis in the region has affected the event - financial support for the race has decreased.

    "Hopefully, this is only for one year and we can support the Cyprus Sunshine Cup in the same way as the years before," said Orountiotis.

    The press conference with Kulhavy was held in the building of the Cyprus National Olympic Committee. He departed the event,...

  • Epic Pro Cycling team opens season with win

    The Gear Movement / Epic Pro Cycling Team
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 18:56 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Old Pueblo success in the Arizona desert

    The Gear Movement / Epic Pro cycling team won the 13th annual 24 hours in the Old Pueblo this past weekend in Arizona. The team overcame world-class competition from the Kona factory racing team to set a record breaking 23 laps in the four-man open category.

    Bryan Alders, Jordan Williford, Sam Morrison and Chris Baddick comprised the winning Gear Movement / Epic Pro Cycling team while Barry Wicks, Kris Sneddon, Spencer Paxson and Sean Babcok made up the runner-up Kona Factory squad.

    Alders took the first lap of the 16.1-mile cactus lined course, putting the team in contention behind Kona, before Baddick moved the team into a commanding position at the front of the race. As the evening progressed, the lead stretched to almost an hour. The team managed to avoid flats caused by the Cholla cacti that lined the course.

    Williford, an experienced night rider and veteran of the Old Pueblo race, battled through mechanicals in the early hours of the morning and put Morrison on track to lap the Kona team by sunrise. Morrison said the sunrise gave him extra motivation. "As soon as the sun came up, I knew we would be able to lap second place. The daylight and warmth made the morning laps really enjoyable."

    The women's four-person category was won by the Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's team including Sarah Kaufman, Sue Haywood, Jennifer Smith and Susan DeMattei. This year's race was dedicated to DeMattei.

    See Cyclingnews' coverage of the 24 hours of Old Pueblo.

  • Afxentia stage race features as Cyprus Sunshine Cup round two

     Annika Langvad (Team Fujibikes Rockets) on her way to a win
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 21:30 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Who can beat Kulhavy and Langvad?

    The second round of the 2012 Cyprus Sunshine Cup will kick off on Friday with the first stage of the Afxentia stage race. 120 men and 50 women are registered for the three-day SHC-categorized event.

    Going into it, Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) and Annika Langvad (Fujibikes Rocket) are the favorites to beat, but a lot can happen in three days.

    Kulhavy will have to watch out for the brothers Lukas and Mathias Flückiger (Trek World Racing), who should be better prepared than in Voroklini. Last weekend's challengers Liam Killeen (Giant) and Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak-Ergon) are likely to be podium contenders again while Frenchman Maxime Marotte (BH Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) has just arrived on the island and will jump into the series this weekend.  Marotte finished 2011 ranked fifth in the World Cup.

    "Wolfram was pretty strong on the uphill. I had to suffer a lot, especially in the first two laps," said Kulhavy of Kurschat's efforts in Voroklini. Kulhavy added that he considers these Sunshine Cup races are part of his training, but thinks that is probably the case for most of  the favorites.

    Under 23 world champion Thomas Litscher (Felt Oetztal X-Bionic) and Fabian Giger (Rabobank-Giant) are two others to watch.

    Greek champion Periklis Ilias also will appear at Mantra tou Kampiou near the village of Kapedes, where the stage race takes place. He will be trying to get as many points as possible to secure a Greek spot for the Olympic Games in London in August.

    With 160 points awarded to the winner of the Afxentia stage race, doing well is important for both world ranking and Olympic qualification.

    The points are particularly important for Annika Langvad, who is fighting for an Olympic spot...

  • SRAM Singletrack Mind Enduro Series returns for 2012

    Amy Bardsley-Smith in the lush Awaba rainforest
    Article published:
    February 23, 2012, 0:54 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Three new venues added to growing series

    The Chocolate Foot race organizational team announced the SRAM Singletrack Mind Series in Australia for 2012. After a 50 percent increase in participation in 2011, three new venues have been added for this season.

    The Singletrack Mind Series will kick off in the city of Orange where the trail fairies have been busy. In addition, the Series will visit the Southern Highlands Cycle Club's newly extended Welby track, and a venue that has a big buzz presently - Kowen Forest in the ACT.

    Entries will open in March for the entire Series and will host a wide range of categories to suit the avid racer right through to fun team categories for the weekend warrior, juniors or novice enduro competitor. Due to popular demand, a new category has been added - the three-person team category will now include a masters option.

    For more information, visit www.chocolatefoot.com.au.

    2012 SRAM Singletrack Mind Series Venues
    April 29: Kinross State Forest - Orange
    June 24: Kowen Forest - Canberra
    August 19: Coondoo Road - Nowra
    September 18: Welby - Southern Highlands of NSW
    October 28: Lidsdale State Forest - Rydal
    November 25: Awaba Mountain Bike Park - Lower Hunter Valley