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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, January 13, 2011

Date published:
January 13, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Evans recovers after appendectomy

    Stage winner Kevin Evans leads through a water crossing in the Watervalberg area
    Article published:
    January 12, 2011, 15:45 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    South African mountain biker to miss season opener

    The opening round of the 2011 MTN South African national marathon series will be without the man who has dominated the series during the past seven years. Kevin Evans (360 Life) will miss up to the first three races of the series following an appendectomy.

    Saturday, January 15 will be the first time that Evans does not take part in the Attakwas marathon from Oudtshoorn to Mosselbay. However, he will be there to support his 360 Life teammate, David George.

    "If I am quite honest, I have to admit that not riding the Attakwas is definitely not the end of the world. It is such a tough race!" said Evans who was last year's winner.

    Evans hopes to participate in the Barberton marathon on January 29.

    "But I won't go out with all guns blazing. I will just ride to see if I can be of some help to David during the race," said Evans. "In all probability I will also miss the next race of the MTN series because we will then be racing the Tour of South Africa. If you miss three races of the MTN series, it will take an incredible effort to win overall."

    Despite his bad luck, Evans is far from being despondent. "In a way this is a blessing in disguise. I now have the opportunity to focus only on being at my best during the Cape Epic and the South African marathon championship, instead of having to compete weekend after weekend.

    "I just feel sorry for David because, when I start racing again, I will not only have fresh legs, but I will also be much stronger because of the time I now have to do some good basic training. David might have to hang onto my pockets to keep up with me."

    Listening to Evans' account of his appendix problems during December, it becomes clear that he was lucky not to have ended up in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

    The first doctor consulted by Evans did not realize that it was an appendix problem. Evans, therefore, kept on training and going for physiotherapy while his ailment just...

  • Trek-Lorca Taller del Tiempo morphs into Wild Wolf-Trek team

    Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Trek-Lorca Taller Del Tiempo)
    Article published:
    January 12, 2011, 17:29 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    New name, sponsorship for Spanish squad

    The Trek-Lorca Taller del Tiempo mountain bike team will become the Wild Wolf Trek Pro Racing Team for 2011. Wild Wolf is a new sponsor for the Spanish team after signing a two-year agreement. The company, started in 2010, offers supplements for athletes and healthy-minded non-athletes looking to enhance their performance.

    "We believe that this partnership with Trek and the other sponsors of the team is a winner," said Edward Martin of Wild Wolf.

    In 2011, the team will race the mountain bike World Cups and other international events such as the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race from March 27 to April 3.

    "This agreement with Wild Wolf will allow significant growth not only in sporting level, but also in terms of image," said Juan Antonio Vilar, Sports Team Manager of Wild Wolf-Trek Pro Racing.

    "It is a further step to becoming one of the top teams in the international arena. Now we'll be working very hard to show the brand Wild Wolf the its commitment to this sport is a successful one. I believe that 2011 will be a great season for us."

    The team's official debut, including a presentation of its racers for this year, will take place on February 27 at the Maremma Cup, in the Italian town of Massa Marittima. Last year's riders included Francisco Abad Carbonell, Miranda Agusti Sanchez, Tereza Hurikova, Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez and Sandra Santanyes Murillo.

    The community of Murcia and the Lorca City council continue to sponsor the squad.

  • Orbea's sponsorship of Absalon pays off

    Julien Absalon (Orbea) climbing out of the saddle
    Article published:
    January 12, 2011, 18:40 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    French mountain biker important to company's international marketing

    A recent article by the BBC highlighted the relationship between top athletes and the manufacturers who sponsor them. In particular, the BBC looked at how French Olympic mountain bike champion Julien Absalon's relationship with Orbea had benefited the bike company.

    Orbea, located in Mallabia in Spanish Basque country, has produced bikes since the 1930s after starting out as a gun manufacturer in 1840. For the past six years, the company has thrown its hat into the pro mountain biking industry.

    Absalon has been Orbea's top signing and winning the Beijing Olympics on an Orbea only helped the company establish its brand in international mountain biking. Absalon's own reputation in mountain biking's history is secure with 17 World Cups to his name and two Olympic gold medals. As the results of the Cyclingnews Reader Poll indicated last week, Absalon is also a favorite among mountain bike fans.

    Going into the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Absalon, 30, has his sights set again on gold. The combination of man and machine has to be just right for an athlete to win gold at the Olympics.

    "Both things are important - man and machine but Julien is a machine," said Ixio Barandiaran, Absalon's team manager to the BBC.

    Orbea's Marketing Manager Joseba Arizaga thinks that Absalon's bike will help play an important role come race day. "It could be a minimum advantage, but at the end of the day the differences between these top level riders is so small that whatever improvement you could provide to the rider - is very important," he said.

    The relationship may be paying off for Orbea, which has 200 employees and makes 600 bikes per day. Since signing Absalon in 2005, company sales have gone from 48.5 million euros to 60 million euros in 2009. However, it's impossible to quantify how much of that growth is due to Absalon.

    By racing and winning on Orbea bikes, Absalon's endorsement of...

  • US Cup, Triple Crown calendars released for 2011

    Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized) is coming off a brilliant weekend of racing at the Triple Crown Finals.
    Article published:
    January 13, 2011, 7:58 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Three series and several stand-alone mountain bike events featured

    US Cup race organisers have announced a complete schedule of affiliated mountain bike events for 2011, including a revamped Triple Crown series, some stand-alone Triple Crown-style events, an East Coast regional series and a West Coast regional series.

    The Triple Crown returns for this year but instead of featuring one race each in three regions of the country, all three races will be in California. The series starts in Bonelli Park in San Dimas on March 12-13, then moves to Soutridge Park in Fontana on March 26-27. Both of these first two rounds will double as the opening two rounds in the US Pro XCT.

    The Triple Crown, with its format of super D, short track and cross country racing, will wrap up with the Santa Ynez Valley Classic in Los Olivos, California, on June 4-5.

    Additionally, the US Cup has awarded some stand-alone Triple Crown-formatted events for 2011 on the East Coast. First up is the 23rd annual edition of the Massanutten HooHa! at Massanutten Resort near Harrisonburg, Virginia. The HooHa! is returning to its first weekend in June spot on the calendar, June 4-5.

    "Last year, Massanutten hosted the Triple Crown Series Finals. I was blown away with how good the riding trails, short track and resort layout were," said Ty Kady, Marketing Director of the US Cup. "This year, although they won't be a final in the Triple Crown Series, [Promoter] George Willetts and staff will still put on a first class, US Cup Triple Crown stand-alone event. We are excited to be working with them again."

    The second stand-alone US Cup branded Triple Crown event has been awarded to Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania. The event is slated for August 13-14, and unlike the California-based Triple Crown Series, the Bear Creek Triple Crown race format is looking to be open to both pro and amateur riders, according to events director Gary Kline.

    "The beauty of co-opting with these stand-alone events is that...

  • Wells to appear at Bay Area Dirt Roll fundraiser

    Todd Wells (Specialized) has won two mountain biking national championships already this year.
    Article published:
    January 13, 2011, 18:05 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Ride with the US national mountain bike and 'cross champion

    Olympic mountain bike team member and multiple-time US national champion Todd Wells (Specialized Factory Racing) will make a rare Bay Area appearance for the second edition of the Bay Area's annual fundraising ride, The Dirt Roll, to be held on Sunday, February 6. Both road and off-road bicycle rides are offered.

    The Dirt Roll is produced by The Northern California (Nor Cal) High School Cycling League and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. It is a benefit ride attended by a host of mountain bike pioneers and cycling enthusiasts with an interest in ensuring that kids have safer roads and great trails for cycling. Proceeds from the Dirt Roll support the ongoing advocacy work being conducted by both organizations.

    "I'd like to see a lot of cyclists come out and ride with me, we'll have a blast!" said Wells. "I've heard about the Camp Tamarancho trails, and I'm looking forward to riding them. And for somebody like me, who makes his living from the sport, there's something special about coming to one of the places where it all began."

    "But think about the cause, too, because that's what you're really signing up for. These two organizations have done so much to provide and maintain good riding facilities over the years, it's scary to think how it would've been without them."

    The Dirt Roll offers both recreational and competitive cyclists the opportunity to participate in a fun and well organized event, either on asphalt or dirt.

    Ride groups are arranged according to ability level. All rides start at the San Geronimo Golf Course west of Fairfax, California, at 10:00 am (they roll out at 10:30 sharp). The rides, which are supported, traverse the pride of the Bay Area mountain bike trails: Camp Tamarancho; or for road riders, bucolic Marin backroads.

    Both rides return to the San Geronimo Golf Course for a shower, lunch and awards ceremony with prizes. Then it's time to watch the Super Bowl on the big screen.

    A...

  • Attakwas marathon draws international field

    Ischen Stopforth rode to a win in the race and the series.
    Article published:
    January 13, 2011, 18:09 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Platt, Sahm among favorites for South African series opener

    There is no guarantee that a South African mountain biker will win the MTN South African marathon series opener in Attakwas on Saturday, January 15.

    With international ranking points on offer for the first time, a talented field of overseas mountain bikers is expected as favorites. Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (both Germany) and Johnni Junker Nielsen (Denmark) have entered, which means that the South African riders will have their work cut out.

    Kevin Evans, the defending champion, will not be racing because of an appendectomy three weeks ago. This means that David George (360Life) and Max Knox (DCM) are definitely the pre-race South African favourites. But rumour has it that Mannie Heymans (Garmin-adidas) is on good form at the moment and hungry to pull off a big one.

    Platt and Sahm are no strangers to the South African mountain biking scene. They have won the UCI-sanctioned Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Platt also won the inaugural Cape Epic with Heymans as his teammate.

    Platt belongs to a small, elite group of racers who can boast of having won the "Triple Crown of endurance" twice: the Cape Epic, the TransAlp and the Trans Rockies all in the same calendar year. The first time Platt accomplished this, he did so with three different racing partners. In 2007, Platt and Sahm completed the endurance hat trick together.

    George competed in the MTN Attakwas for the first time last year and surprised everybody by finishing second, after Kevin Evans. Max Knox (DCM) was third.

    George's biggest mistake last year was that he pushed himself too hard in an effort to catch up with Evans. At one stage the time gap between the two riders was less than a minute, but over the last 20 kilometers George paid the price for his hard racing. This enabled Evans to ride away from him to win by more than five minutes. George is determined not to be left behind again during the last few kilometers.

    "I...

  • Italy prepares for 2011 marathon Worlds

    Alban Lakata makes his first race appearance as marathon World Champion.
    Article published:
    January 13, 2011, 19:45 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Events for elite and amateur racers on tap

    The The 2011 UCI Marathon Mountain Bike World Championships will take place on Sunday, June 26 in Montebelluna, a small city in the Italian province of Treviso, about 55km from Venice. It will be the second time Italy has hosted the marathon Worlds; the last time was in Villabassa in 2008.

    The annual, popular Gunn-Rita Marathon is doubling as the marathon world championship in 2011 and therefore will be open to both amateur and elite racers.

    In keeping with the UCI's Worlds protocol, the elite racers will have to be selected to compete by their national federations. The elite men will race a 116.8km course with 2,910m of climbing while the elite women will race 98.5km with 2,290m of climbing.

    Amateur racers will be able to choose between competing on the "marathon" course, which is 77.1km long and features 1,980m of climbing and the "classic" course, which is 51.7km long with 1,380m of climbing.

    All four courses will explore the Montello hills.

    Other side-events are being planned. On Friday evening, June 24, an urban cross and a street bike competition will be held in the city of Montebelluna while a kids' race and mountain bike school will feature on Saturday, June 25.

    Registration for the amateur events is already open, with participants signed up from Norway, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Australia. In 2010, Alban Lakata (Austria) won the world title ahead of Mirko Celestino (Italy) and Burry Stander (South Africa).  Esther Süss (Switzerland) earned the women's rainbow jersey ahead of Sabine Spitz (Germany) and Annika Langvad (Denmark).

    For more information, visit www.gunnritamarathon.com.

  • Neethling, Killeen added to Giant team for 2011

    Andrew Neethling (Giant Factory Off-Road Racing Team)
    Article published:
    January 13, 2011, 20:59 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Full cross country, downhill rosters released

    With the addition of several World Cup riders in downhill and cross country racing, the Giant Factory Off-Road Team will field its strongest lineup ever in 2011. South African downhiller Andrew Neethling and five-time British cross country champion Liam Killeen join a diverse squad that includes 19-year-old World Cup downhill sensation Danny Hart of Great Britain.

    "Our commitment to off-road racing at the highest level is a reflection of our broader commitment to the off-road cyclist," said Giant Global Marketing Director An Le.

    "Working closely with this diverse group of athletes - from Olympic cross country racers to super D champions to top World Cup downhillers - keeps us ahead of the pack in developing new technologies that benefit off-road riders at all levels."

    The downhill squad will be led by Hart, who last year emerged as the world's top young downhill racer. After winning the 2009 Junior World Cup title, Hart made a successful transition to the elites in 2010, racing his Giant Glory to eighth overall in the World Cup series and eighth at the World Championships. The only top-10 rider under age 20, he was widely recognized as the future of downhill racing.

    "I am super happy to be a part of the Giant program for the foreseeable future," Hart said. "I had a great 2010 season, and this year is going to be better. I just want to go racing!"

    Neethling, a consistent top-10 World Cup finisher and winner of the 2010 U.S. Open, joins Hart and two-time US downhill champion Duncan Riffle to give Giant a powerful punch in the downhill discipline.

    "Giant has always had a great racing heritage, and I look forward to being part of it," Neethling said. "I've always looked up to the team and felt they had superb bikes. I know I will have the bikes, support and environment to reach all my racing goals."

    Veteran Carl Decker, whose successful 2010 season on the Anthem X 29er included wins at several major American...