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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, January 27, 2011

Date published:
January 27, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Whole Athlete-Specialized kicks off 2011 with winter training camp

    The Whole Athlete-Specialized mountain bike team
    Article published:
    January 24, 2011, 22:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Development squad gets in early season training together

    The Whole Athlete-Specialized Cycling Team held its first team training camp of 2011 at the Whole Athlete Performance Center in Marin County, California this weekend.

    True to the company's holistic philosophy, the team not only enjoyed road and mountain bike riding on the bucolic back roads and scenic slopes of the famed Mt. Tamapais, but also practiced yoga each day, were treated to organic meals and participated in an array of presentations and workshops from sponsors, docs and supporters.

    From Team Sport Psychologist Dr. Joan Steidinger leading the young athletes in finding their "power zone", to kinesiology taping expert and Team Chiropractor Dr. Sara LeMarch showing the kids how to prevent and treat common injuries, the junior and under 23 riders were treated like professionals.

    For the 2011 season, the team will focus on the US Pro XCT series and National Championships, with the additional goal of again qualifying riders to the world championship team. In 2010, four juniors from the team represented the US in Mont Sainte Anne.

    Junior and Under 23 cross country racers comprise the bulk of the team, with a small contingent of Under 23 road-focused athletes as well. The young athletes range in age from 14-19, including current US National Champions, Kate Courtney (cross country), Keegan Swenson (cross country) and Zach Valdez (24-hour).

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

    2011 Whole Athlete - Specialized Team

    Junior men - cross country
    Tony Smith (17/18)
    Max Houtzager (17/18)
    Keegan Swenson (17/18)
    Bobby Zidek (17/18)
    Sven Beer (17/18)
    Taylor Smith (17/18)
    Eliel Anttila (17/18)
    Johnny Kaufmann (15/16)
    Lucas Newcomb (15/16)

    Junior women -...

  • Mellow Johnny's Classic upgraded to UCI Cat. 1 status

    Max Plaxton (Sho-Air/Specialized) won the last round of USA cycling's Pro-XCT at Lance Armstrong's ranch in Austin.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2011, 20:15 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    No certain plans for Armstrong to race cross country at his ranch

    The Mellow Johnny's Classic has been awarded UCI Category 1 status on the international mountain bike calendar. Coming up on April 30, 2011, in Dripping Springs, Texas, the race will again be run on the 450-acre Juan Pelota Ranch owned by Lance Armstrong. It is also a stop in the US Pro XCT series.

    The UCI upgraded the status of the 2011 Mellow Johnny's Classic from category 2 to category 1 in response to requests by the race organization.

    "Our idea was always to grow the event and to set a high bar that we'd hit or go past," the race's Media Liaison Ted Arnold told Cyclingnews. "We had been trying pretty hard to get this designation."

    The Mellow Johnny's Classic came to be - in its first running in November of 2009 - after Lance Armstrong tweeted that he wanted to have a mountain bike event. The resulting race was run - with no UCI categorization - on the Armstrong's Juan Pelota ranch, located about one hour's drive outside of Austin.

    "It all started because Lance tweeted. I was at Interbike and he was in Austin, and we were all able to jump onboard and make the connections needed to make it happen," said Arnold. "A lot of people don't know how much passion Lance has for mountain biking. We had a huge response and sold out the event and we decided to come back in the spring."

    After a promoter dropped out of the US Pro XCT in 2010, Arnold's team saw the opportunity to take the race up a level. The second edition of the Mellow Johnny's Classic ran in May of 2010.

    "We thought the right thing to do was to step up and pick up a Cat. 2 spot offered by USA Cycling for the Pro XCT series. That was our second year."

    Run at the end of May, temperatures were scorching on race...

  • Ferrand Prevot, Lapeyrie join Team Lapierre International

    Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Lapierre International) celebrates her 2nd place finish at the 2011 French Cyclo Cross Championships
    Article published:
    January 25, 2011, 21:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    French squad sets sights on Olympics

    Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Thomas Lapeyrie are the two newest members of the Lapierre International mountain bike team. They join Alexis Vuillermoz on the 2011 squad.

    Two-time junior cross country world champion Ferrand Prevot will turn 19 in February. The young rider recently finished second in the French cyclo-cross national championship and is also the reigning junior road world champion and French junior time trial national champion.

    "I am happy to be part of Team Lapierre International. It is one of the only teams which enables me to compete at a world class level in all of my disciplines: mountain bike, road, time trialing and cyclo-cross," said Ferrand Prevot.

    "Ultimately, we have the same objective: the Olympics! My current goal is to go to London in 2012, but I am very focused on Rio 2016. Anyway, for the moment I don't want to make a choice between road and mountain bike, as long as I can race effectively in both of them."

    With a winter of hard training already in his legs, Lapeyrie is looking forward to starting his racing season in March. "Although I got my cross country bikes very early from Lapierre, I really enjoy riding a 160mm during the winter. Now, I am looking forward to the pre-season training camps and to the season opener mid-March in Cassis," said Lapeyrie, who is the 2007 French four cross national champion and who finished third in the 2010 Under 23 cross country French Cup.

    Vuillermoz welcomed his two new teammates and is going into the 2011 season with clear objectives.

    "There is a new dynamic in the team, with a very focused target: the Olympics. While I know that selection for London will be extremely tough within the French team, I believe we have everything on our side to reach this goal," said Vuillermoz.

    "I want to be in top...

  • Orange Monkey - Cannondale registers as UCI team for 2011

    South African junior champion Rourke Croeser (front) and Elite champion Brandon Stewart
    Article published:
    January 26, 2011, 16:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    South African Croeser is newest signing for UK-based squad

    The Orange Monkey-Cannondale cross country mountain bike team has been accepted by the UCI as a registered mountain bike team for 2011. The UK-based team, introduced in 2004, has grown each year and will undertake a demanding schedule of races at home and abroad, including five of the six World Cup events.

    South African Rourke Croeser, a multiple-time national champion, is the newest addition to the roster. He will race in the elite/under 23 category along with Ben Roff, who is moving up from the junior category. Paul Beales and Chris Andrews will compete in the elite category while Alex Baker will represent the team in junior races.

    Croeser is beginning his early season in South Africa before heading to the United Kingdom in May. The rest of the team will head to Cyprus for the Sunshine Cup series.

    Team Manager, Will Cooper will head the squad, along with two mechanics and a full pit set up at both domestic and European races.

    The team continues to be supported by Cannondale bikes, which has stepped up to a title sponsorship role. "It's great to see a lot of hard work and dedication, both on and off the bike, be rewarded as the team progresses to UCI status," said Mike Cotty, Cannondale's Marketing Manager. "I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the guys, and Cannondale, on the podium at many more races in 2011".

    The team is also sponsored by Schwalbe Tyres, Bioracer Clothing, KCNC Components,, Zipvit nutrition, Mavic Wheels, Casco Helmets, Squirt Lubricant,, Pedal Precision, Magura Brakes, CycleOps Power and No Tubes Sealant.

    In keeping with the team's clean cycling stance, its riders have joined the anti-doping organization, Bike Pure, and will carry the blue wristband as the symbol of a Pure cyclist.

    2011 Orange Monkey-Cannondale Team Roster
    Chris Andrews (Elite)
    Alex Baker (Junior)
    Paul Beales (Elite)
    Rourke Croeser (Elite / under...

  • Ropelato signs with Steve Peat Syndicate

    Mitch Ropelato is racing for the Steve Peat Syndicate in 2011.
    Article published:
    January 26, 2011, 17:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    Young four cross star joins new team

    American gravity racer Mitch Ropelato signed with the Steve Peat Syndicate North America (SPSNA) for the 2011 season.

    "Its awesome to be able to include Mitch in our first year of the SPSNA. The program is designed to help out any level of rider raise their game on the race circuit and in their riding," said 2009 downhill World Champion Peat.

    "Mitch has already turned some heads out there and impressed lots of people, we feel we can offer him great support, a relaxed but professional set up and help him achieve his potential quicker for the 2011 season. Welcome aboard Mitch."

    Ropelato's results include a second place at the 2009 World Cup four cross round in Bromont and dual 2009 national championship titles in junior downhill and elite four cross.

    In contrast to conventional mountain bike teams, the Steve Peat Syndicate is a buy-in membership-based team. Also operating in the United Kingdom, it is in its first year in the United States.

    Ropelato will race a Santa Cruz V10 Carbon, with SRAM and Rock Shox componentry.

  • US Olympic mountain bike team selection procedure published by USAC

    Luna Pro Georgia Gould of Team Luna takes the victors spoils.
    Article published:
    January 26, 2011, 18:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Long team qualification period happening now

    For 2012 Olympic hopeful mountain bikers, 2011 is an important year. It's when their performances will help them qualify for the US Olympic Long Team. USA Cycling released its complete 2012 Olympic Games team qualification guidelines on Tuesday. Following up on Olympic Long Team selections due at the end of this year, the final Olympic team selection of up to three men and two women will be announced on June 15, 2012.

    Throughout most of 2011, the nation's best racers will be vying for a spot on the Olympic Games Long Team. Up to 10 men and 10 women will be selected based on performances between January 1 and December 1, 2011. A racer can earn a spot on the Long Team by finishing in the top 10 at the 2011 cross country mountain bike Worlds in Champery, Switzerland, or by finishing in the top 10 at any World Cup during the Long Team Qualification Period.

    A racer can also earn a spot by being ranked in the top three at the end of the US Pro XCT series. Space still permitting, racers with a ranking in the top 60 of the world as of December 1, 2011 will be eligible for the Long Team. Should more than 10 racers meet the aforementioned criteria, World Cup rankings will be the decider. If 10 racers do not meet the criteria, USAC may select additional nominees per its "Principles of Athlete Selection" guidelines.

    Making the Long Team is just the first step toward making the final Olympic team. The best way to get a spot on the start line in London, England, is for a racer to finish in the top five at the 2011 Worlds and then prove to the selectors that he or she is maintaining his or her form thereafter. Should more than one man or woman meet this goal, the top athlete will be chosen.

    Another way to make the final team is to win a cross country World Cup event during the final qualification period of January 1 to May 22, 2012, and then prove to selectors that form has been maintained accordingly. Should more than one man or woman...

  • George, Knox to battle in Barberton marathon

    David George (360life) sets the pace for Team Bulls up the Attakwas climb.
    Article published:
    January 27, 2011, 16:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Evans returns to racing after appendectomy

    South African mountain biking will have its own north vs. south contest on Saturday, January 29, when pro racers line up for the start of the 120km, UCI category 2 MTN Barberton marathon.

    David George (360 Life), a born and bred Capetonian, will represent the south and Max Knox (DCM), who grew up in Sabie, the north. Their duel on mountain bikes has the makings of a classic battle that might even go down to the wire with the two of them sprinting to the line.

    Knox can claim to be the indisputable mountain biking king of Barberton, because he has never been beaten in this marathon.

    Last year's victory was according to the book for Knox. "Ground control, we have completed our lift-off and is up and away at fast speed." This is how Knox's attack on the last big climb was could have been described by bystanders last year.

    After about 80 kilometers of hard racing, Knox, Burry Stander and Kevin Evans were still racing neck and neck and it seemed to be anyone's race. But in a matter of three minutes, at the bottom of the climb, the situation changed dramatically.

    Knox attacked and literally just flew away from Stander and Evans. They had no answer and had to look on as Knox disappeared from their sight, increasing his advantage with every pedal stroke. In the end he finished more than 10 minutes ahead of Stander and Evans.

    Knox only laughed when he was reminded of his heroic effort. "That is all history now. I cannot allow myself the luxury of dwelling on the past forever. On Saturday, there will be a new race with new challenges.

    "To be honest, I really, really want to win. MTN's Barberton and Sabie marathons are definitely two of the most important races for me, because I am a born and bred Lowvelder," said Knox. "The important consideration for me is not to become too obsessed about winning, because usually that is when you end up making stupid mistakes. I can only promise that I will give it my all to win. ...

  • New Leadville 100 race qualifier system coming

    Levi Leipheimer en route to victory at the Leadville 100
    Article published:
    January 27, 2011, 17:25 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Tour of California organizers partner with Lifetime Fitness

    Historically, winning the lottery to get into the popular Leadville 100 mountain bike race has been almost as tough as the race itself. However, a new qualifier system under development will provide additional race entry opportunities for the legendary 100-miler, which will be run next on August 13, 2011.

    AEG, the owner and operator of the Amgen Tour of California, will partner with Life Time Fitness, Inc., which owns the Leadville 100. The two companies are collaborating to grow and develop what may be the highest profile mountain bike race in North America. The race annually attracts top road and mountain bike racers including riders like Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Rebecca Rusch and Amanda Carey.

    AEG will create a national series of qualifying races, each of which will provide athletes with guaranteed entry into the perennially sold-out Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race. The series of races will provide avid cyclists with opportunities outside of the traditional Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race lottery system to gain entry into the event. In 2011, the Leadville Qualifying Series will consist of three races and will expand to eight races by 2013.

    "It struck me that the lottery system has some limitations," Andrew Messick, President of AEG, told Cyclingnews. "A lot of people who are serious cyclists want to do this race sometime in their lives but don't always get the chance. There is so much luck involved in getting in. We thought it'd be more fair to create this system."

    Messick's interest was piqued after his own involvement with the race. "I did the Leadville Trail 100 in 2010. I came away from my...