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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, February 7, 2013

Date published:
February 7, 2013, 20:00

Edited by Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

  • UCI proposes adding eliminator mountain bike discipline to Olympics

    A round during the elite women's eliminator finals featuring Lea Davison (United States) and other riders
    Article published:
    February 3, 2013, 22:03
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Downhill racing not being considered for Olympic Games

    The Olympic Games may get another mountain bike event: the relatively new discipline of eliminator racing. The UCI Management Committee recently expressed its support for a proposal to be made to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  Following a meeting at the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross Championships this weekend, the UCI will request the addition of eliminator events for both men and women, effective for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    "The proposal was made bearing in mind [that the] IOC does like new disciplines, especially if they have a modern and intense format like eliminator," said Peter Van den Abeele of the UCI to Cyclingnews.

    Eliminator is like a four cross event with a format of qualifying and multiple rounds concluding in a big and small final, but they are run on flatter courses and are typically raced cross country racers although gravity racers do sometimes compete, too.  Each heat lasts one to three minutes and rewards those with good speed and sprinting skills.

    The IOC could add an event like the eliminator because it would be a second event for athletes already attending the Olympic Games to race, and it would not have to add to the total number of athletes at the Olympic games or juggle quotas from existing sports.  Those already going to compete in the cross country could double up for a second chance at gold if they also raced the eliminator.

    Eliminators have happened in conjunction with some cross country World Cups for the past two years although they have not yet counted toward a World Cup standing.  The first eliminator world championship was held in 2012 at the Worlds in Saalfelden, Austria.

    At present there are no gravity mountain bike disciplines in the Olympic Games, and at times in the past, some downhill fans have called for the addition of downhill racing to the Olympic programme, often arguing that the discipline could boast much of the sport of mountain biking's growth.

    When asked about the possibility of including downhill in the Olympics, Van den Abeele said, "Downhill was never an option, because it would be hard to organize such a competition in an Olympic city like Rio or Tokyo, Madrid or Istambul." He also noted that the IOC is not ready to increase athlete quotas, another obstacle.

    So what happens next for eliminator racing to try to get into the Olympics? "The process to get Olympic status for a discipline is very easy: all International Federations are requested to express their wishes, and the Executive Board of IOC will decide on the new programme."

    In the meantime, eliminator fans and Olympic hopefuls will have to wait and see what the IOC decides.

    At the same Management Committee meeting, the UCI also expressed support for adding an Olympic points race and a BMX freestyle event.

  • UCI gets behind Enduro mountain bike discipline

    Geoff Kabush (3Rox Racing) is back from racing an enduro event in France
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 14:45
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Four cross worlds to stand alone in 2013

    The UCI will add Enduro racing to its list of mountain bike disciplines, effective in 2014, as decided during a Management Committee meeting held just prior to the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships this weekend.

    Don't expect an Enduro World Cup or international series of the sort now run for cross country, downhill and marathon disciplines. "No World Cup or any other series are foreseen: [the] UCI will simply recognize the enduro format and the events which already exist as well as those which will be organized in the future," the UCI's Peter Van den Abeele told Cyclingnews.

    Enduro racers already have an Enduro World Series, which is in its inaugural year this season. It is run by former UCI technical delegate Chris Ball, who has previously advocated for the UCI to get onboard the Enduro train.

    2013 four cross Worlds on its own

    Following its Management Committee meeting, the UCI also announced that 2013 Four Cross Worlds would be held in Leogang, Austria, instead of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where the rest of the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships is happening.

    "Four Cross Worlds will take place in Leogang on September 21-22: decision to move that part of the event from Pietermaritzburg to Austria - where there is a track, the discipline is very popular and participation will surely be higher - was made in order to avoid the organizer in South Africa to build a new track just for one competition maybe with very few participants," said Van den Abeele.

    It will be the second consecutive year that four cross Worlds are held in Leogang.

  • Henderson and McConnell plan to race in Thredbo

    Daniel McConnell (Anytime Fitness-Trek) trains for his world cup campaign
    Article published:
    February 5, 2013, 03:02
    By:
    Cycling News

    Olympians bolster next round of Australian Mountain Bike Series

    The Australian National Series All Mountain Cup has been bolstered by the confirmation that 2012 London Olympians Rebecca Henderson and Daniel McConnell will contest round two in Thredbo this weekend.

    The duo skipped the opening round in Mt Buller, with Henderson's absence paving the way for Victorian and Target Trek teammate Peta Mullens to claim two of the three stages on offer at Mount Buller. Mullens leads the AMC general classification from Swiss rider Nathalie Schneitter and Tory Thomas respectively.

    Buoyed by her recent signing with the Trek Factory Racing team - the global Trek World Cup team, Henderson is motivated to perform well in the Series which is her first hit out since contesting her the Olympic Games. "I am really excited and motivated to train harder and race well for the new team," Henderson said who is looking forward to a more stable 2013 season after a 2012 season full of highs and lows.

    "Last year was a really long season, we were racing full gas from February all the way until September."

    Following her Olympics campaign, Henderson turned her focus to the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships before injuring her shoulder just days before the competition in Austria last September.

    The injury forced Henderson to take her post season break from the bike earlier than planned, leaving her unsure of her form heading into Australia's national series. "I'm not really sure how my form is at this stage; I had a crash which took me out of Worlds so I had a bit more time to recover after the Olympics," Henderson said.

    "(But) hopefully I can compete against my teammate Peta, who won the first round, as she is obviously in really good form at the moment.

    "The summer for me is about trying to build a strong base of riding before the World Cups and the world championships in September. It's a particularly long season to be in peak form at the moment."

    Henderson, 21, revealed her Olympic experience has made her hungrier than ever to continue competing on the world stage again. "The Olympics bought out the best in me last year, and it is something you can only truly get a grasp of if you are there.

    "I am definitely excited and extremely motivated to be in Rio in 2016," Henderson said.

    Similarly Henderson's coach and Olympic teammate Daniel McConnell will make his AMC debut and will be looking to knock Chris Jongewaard (BH Jet Black Cycling) off top spot in the rankings.

    Jongewaard claimed both the cross country and point-to-point races at Mount Buller and leads the general classification over young-gun Jack Haig (Torq) and series defending champion Andrew Blair (Swell Specialized MTB Team).

    Jongewaard, the five time national cross country champion, says he is excited by McConnell's presence in the series.

    "I think it would be important to Dan’s season to have some strong competition in Australian mountain bike racing and I am looking forward to a challenge," Jongewaard explained.

    "At Thredbo, I will be looking for a solid result and using this opportunity to test the legs leading into the national champs," Jongewaard said of the Australian MTB Championships held at Stromlo Forrest Park in Canberra from February 20 - 24.

    "I can hopefully get some good training in over the coming weeks and I would like to think I have a good chance in retaining the leader's jersey."

    The series received a blow with defending champion Andrew Blair forced to withdraw after suffering an injury during a training crash.

    Thredbo is the second round within the Subaru Australian Mountain Bike National Series before competitors head Bright to conclude the series.

  • Scott11 team becomes Gstaad-Scott team for 2013

    The signing of the contract with the director of Gstaad Saanenland Tourism, Martin Bachofner and Team Manager Claudio Caluori took place right on Gstaad's ski slopes.
    Article published:
    February 5, 2013, 11:32
    By:
    Cycling News

    New title sponsor and development team added

    The international mountain bike downhill Scott11 team is becoming the Gstaad-Scott team after partnering with the Alpine destination of Gstaad Saanenland. Gstaad said it is committed to developing a new bike destination concept.

    In 2013, Gstaad-Scott continues to attack in the downhill World Cup with its athletes Brendan Fairclough, Emilie Siegenthaler, Noel Niederberger, Floriane Pugin and four cross riders Adrian Weiss and Mirco Weiss. French youngster Patrick Thome has just teamed up with the squad. Former downhill pro Cyril Langeau, who was a teammate of manager Claudio Caluori back in 2002, is joining the team as sportive director.

    The team is continuing with its one of its objectives to promote young riders in Switzerland. Therefore, it will also back a development team including Felix Klee, Pascal Tinner, Dominic Tinner, Manuel Marty and Tim Kälin.

  • Challengers aim to upstage Hill and Buchanan in Thredbo

    Past world champion Sam Hill in second place
    Article published:
    February 6, 2013, 03:47
    By:
    Cycling News

    Round 2 of Australian National Series promises close racing this weekend

    World champions Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles) and Caroline Buchanan (Airbornee Bicycles) head to Thredbo this weekend, intent on retaining their leads in the Australian Gravity Cup National Series after solid victories in round one in Mount Buller in January.

    The three-time downhill world champion Hill leads the elite men's rankings by 22 points over Chris Kovarik, with Connor Fearon (Kona Factory Team) a further 41 points behind in third place.

    Likewise, Buchanan, the 2012 BMX time trial world champion and 2009 four cross world champion, leads over Claire Buchar by just 10 points with 2004 cross country Olympian Lisa Mathison (Planet Cycles) in third position, 13 points behind Buchanan.

    Looking to challenge the two headline acts is the power couple of Kovarik and Buchar, with Queensland's Kovarik admitting the presence of Hill in the National Series only serves as motivation to train harder.

    "It's great to have someone like Sam to challenge me as he races consistent fast times not to mention he's a multiple world champ," Kovarik said, nothing that the nature of downhill racing allows him to focus solely on his own race.

    "I never look at trying to beat a certain person or the leader; I always look at the time and gauge how I can beat that time, or how I can find speed in myself and consistency."

    "We all put pressures on ourselves to perform well against others but it really comes down to handling your own performance.

    "If I can prepare myself and get in the right mindset, then I don't see why I couldn't have a faster time than anyone on the day.

    Kovarik hopes his form will carry into the Australian National Championships, which will be held in Canberra from February 20-24.

    "My season goal is to win the National downhill title, and I want to place as high as I can in every other event," Kovarik said. "It would be nice to win the national Gravity Cup Series for sure, but Sam would have to place third or lower at Thredbo for me to overtake him, and I don't see that happening.

    "(But) it all comes down to who has it dialled on the day. That's why this sport is so challenging," he said.

    Similarly, Canadian-born Buchar felt only excitement for Buchanan's return to the sport and enjoys the pair's healthy rivalry. "Everyone has their own journey, and Caroline is such an amazing athlete," Buchar said. "I am glad she is back in the sport, and I am grateful to have some good competition, it will help push me to be my best."

    Recovering from a recent broken collarbone, Buchar's silver medal performance at Mount Buller helped to build the former Canadian downhill national champion's confidence.

    "I was so pumped to be back on my downhill bike racing, and I think I did pretty well," said Buchar "I think I made some progress with getting back up to speed, and I'm working on getting my strength back every day," said the 34-year-old.

    The couple work together for Korvarik's Rider Development Program, with the job providing a solid income for the pair, with the opportunity allowing Buchar to remain in Australia to race during the summer.

    "We are helping out Max Warshawsky, Remy Morton and Phil Piazza (NSDynamics) and also with Zac Moss (For the Riders)," Buchar said. "We are working with them at the National Rounds with skills, tactics and mental development.

    "It was a great chance for us to do what we love and to race and represent our sponsors at some pretty great events," said Buchar.

    Thredbo is the second round in the Subaru 2013 Australian Mountain Bike National Series, with competitors heading Bright to conclude the series from March 15-17.

  • Trujillo and Tingey join Team Jamis

    Skyler Trujillo riding in second place on lap one
    Article published:
    February 6, 2013, 15:37
    By:
    Cycling News

    Full 2013 team roster announced

    Celebrating its fifth season, Team Jamis is returning bigger and better. We are excited to welcome back many of the same faces, as well as two new ones for the 2013 racing season.

    New to Team Jamis is U23 cross country and cyclo-cross world championship team member Skyler Trujillo, 21, of Durango, Colorado, and emerging top female athlete Erica Tingey, of Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Trujillo, at top five finisher at U23 cross country, cyclo-cross and collegiate 'cross national championships, as well as U23 world championship cyclo-cross team member, will bring youth and speed to the team. A Fort Collins, Colorado, native, Trujillo attends Fort Lewis College in Durango.

    Also new to the Jamis squad is Erica Tingey, a relative newcomer. Tingey is targeting 2013 as her top five US Pro XCT breakthrough season, as she chases the US Pro XCT and domestic World Cup schedule. All the while juggling a 3-year-old, which should prove a valuable skill as she spends time on the road with the Jamis boys.

    Nine-time Israeli champion Rotem Ishay, 26, of Durango is returning to anchor the squad. He'll race along side the versatile masters 'cross world champion Thomas Turner, 30, of Canton, Georgia; Austin, Texas's Blake Harlan, 26; and team manager Jason Sager, 38, of Ogden, Utah.

    Team Jamis is excited to mix it up at many kinds of events in 2013: Pro XCT, Big Mountain and Oregon Enduros, Mongolian Bike Challenge, Tour of Malaysia, Whiskey 50, North American World Cups, and everything in between.

    The team will race the Jamis Dakar XCT 650 and Dakar XCR 29'er.

    2013 Team Jamis
    Blake Harlan
    Rotem Ishay
    Jason Sager
    Erica Tingey
    Skyler Trujillo
    Thomas Turner

  • UCI ends World Cup partnership with title sponsor RockyRoads

    The start of the elite women's race in Albstadt.
    Article published:
    February 7, 2013, 15:22
    By:
    Cycling News

    Wanted: New title sponsor

    The UCI admitted on Tuesday that it had terminated its mountain bike World Cup title sponsorship relationship with RockyRoads, but said the 2013 series would go on.

    After mountain bike, 'cross and trials news website RockyRoads.net stopped posting news content in November of 2012 and failed to make payments to its reporters, the UCI's relationship with its World Cup title sponsor seemed to be in jeopardy. In December, the UCI only said in December that negotiations were still underway.

    The UCI promised that the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano will get underway as scheduled in Albstadt, Germany in May.

    "Discussions are already under way with other parties with a view to different partnership packages including naming rights, on-site visibility and promotional opportunities across the disciplines cross country (XCO), downhill (DHI) and eliminator (XCE)," read a statement by the UCI.

    Long-standing presenting sponsor Shimano continues its partnership with the World Cup for another four years.

    The 2013 World Cup will feature eight rounds in eight different countries and will wrap up with the downhill final in Leogang, Austria in September.

  • Lakata and Mennen team up for Cape Epic

    Third place team Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen during the 2012 Cape Epic prologue
    Article published:
    February 7, 2013, 19:10
    By:
    Cycling News

    German and Austrian pair up for second time at MTB stage race

    Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen are paired up as one of the favorite teams to take top honors at this year's Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa. They will race together as Canyon Topeak Ergon.

    Lakata, 33, participated in five previous editions of the Cape Epic, whereas this will be the 27-year-old Mennen's second attempt at a podium finish. Together, they boast plenty of experience to face the fast pace promised at this year's event, which will take place on March 17-24 in the Western Cape.

    Both Lakata and Mennen have an impressive list of victories behind their names. Lakata was the TransAlp and Leadville 100 winner last year, the 2010 marathon world champion, silver medalist at the 2009 marathon world championships, the 2008 European marathon champion, five-time Austrian marathon national champion and has one World Cup win behind his name. He has won two Cape Epic stages and finished in third place overall in 2010 with Kevin Evans.

    Mennen is also last year's winner of the TransAlp, silver medalist in last year's German marathon championships, bronze medalist in the 2012 German cross country national championships, 2012 Bike Marathon Willingen winner and finished in 12th place at the 2012 marathon Worlds. He took second at the UCI World Series Kitzalp Marathon.

    Lakata, who started mountain biking in 2000, said his career goal is to win the Cape Epic.

    Mennen, who started mountain biking 1998, said, "The Cape Epic is one of the most beautiful bike races in the world, and only a real mountain biker can win this race."

    Having won last year's TransAlp with Mennen, Lakata is confident of their abilities. "We won the TransAlp, which is also a tough race, and last year we finished in fifth place in the GC [in the Cape Epic], only one minute and 25 seconds behind the third team. This year finishing on the podium is a goal!"

    Mennen said, "The route looks tough, but every time I watch last year's DVD, I want to do this event again."

    The two will prepare together by doing the Andalucia Bike Race later this month. "That should be enough. We're not married," said Mennen. "We get along very well. Alban is a very experienced and clever rider, and we're both focused and know how hard we can push each other."

    "We believe that we have more potential than finishing in fifth place again. Last year was my first Cape Epic, and I learnt a lot. Until now, my training has gone very well and Alban is also on the right track. Our aim is to improve last year's results and finish on the podium!"

    A sample week of training for Lakata this off-season has included two gym sessions per week, two interval training sessions on the bike per week and two longer rides of four to five hours per week on the road. Mennen has been running, spinning and riding, despite near freezing temperatures at his home.

    Lakata is looking forward to the two stages in Stellenbosch. He finds the last stages more difficult "because you struggle with the lack of sleep. And crossing the finish line is like getting handcuffs off!"

    "My hardest Cape Epic was in 2008, when I got really ill in the middle of the race, and my team forced me to carry on. And my favourite memory was when Kevin Evans, my partner in 2010, helped me to get through the last stages of the 2010 Epic. I know it's a team event, you win and also lose together, but at that time he behaved like a real friend. Riding in the leader's jersey is fantastic, and losing it is not all that great."

    Mennen reckons that he and Lakata will need to have "a big portion of luck, be well and fit, and have good legs" to meet their objective.

    Lakata's other major goal for the year is to win a world championship medal when the event is held in his home nation of Austria on June 29.