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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, June 9, 2011

Date published:
June 09, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Wells World Cup and American MTB racing differences

    Todd Wells (Specialized Racing)
    Article published:
    June 02, 2011, 15:41 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    European World Cups more like road racing, crits and cyclo-cross

    Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) finished 33rd as the top American at the UCI World Cup in Offenburg, Germany, on Sunday. Wells often finishes higher in World Cups, but he wasn't the only American struggling on the day. Samuel Schultz (Subaru - Trek) was 45th; Adam Craig (Rabobank - Giant Off-Road Team) was 62nd and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru - Trek) was 67th.

    "It was a brutal race out there. The Offenburg course is fast, and if you blow up on a fast course like that, there are always guys every couple of seconds who are ready to come by you," said Wells. "I went from having a good race to just trying to hang on and get it over with.

    "I made it into the lead chase group, and I was able to stay in there for the first three to four laps. I was feeling pretty good. At the end of the fourth lap, it started to go pretty badly, and in the last two laps, I had nothing."

    At the Dalby World Cup, one week before Offenburg, Wells was 16th, Horgan-Kobelski was 34th, Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) was 39th and Schultz was 53rd.

    Wells couldn't speak for the other Americans and why they are struggling at the World Cups, but he did offer some observations on how the racing has been changing in the past year or two.

    "I feel like the level has come up. There are probably six guys inside of every minute. The one thing with the World Cup is that it's become such a fast type of race. The speeds are going up, the climbs are getting shorter and it's a much more explosive type of race.

    "The climbs are only one to two minutes long. It's almost like a road race or a criterium where you sprint out of every corner and you hang on as long as you can. We used to have long downhills where you could fully recover. ...

  • Compton looking forward to mid-season break

    Katie Compton (Giant Rabobank) rides just behind the lead group
    Article published:
    June 02, 2011, 19:18 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Some time off planned after her first trip to Poland

    Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant) is looking forward to a mid-season break from racing so she can return home and focus on her training.

    Compton finished as the top American, in 16th place, at the UCI cross country World Cup in Offenburg, Germany on Sunday. Speaking of her race, she said, "That was such a fast race. There was no place to recover. You had to go for it the whole time. It was five minutes faster than last year, and it was the same course and same conditions."

    The mountain biker and cyclo-cross racer is staying in Europe for one more week so she can compete in the Jelenia Gora Trophy - Maja Wloszczowska MTB Race on Sunday, June 5, before returning to her home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a month off the racing circuit. Compton, who has never previously been to Poland, is opting to go to the race named after the current elite women's cross country world champion instead of the Teva Games.

    "I felt better in Offenburg, but I still feel like there is room for improvement," Compton told Cyclingnews. "I need to get a little more high end.

    "Once I get home in June, I'll do some intensity. I'll get on the track and work on some speed. It'll be good for the second half of the season. I'm going to go home and recover but will keep training. I don't have as much fitness as I need yet, so I'll have a break from racing, but will keep building my form."

    The US short track national champion will be at home for most of June, and she'll skip the US Pro XCT race in Wisconsin later in the month.

    "In June, we'll go to the Aspen food and wine festival and that will be our treat - some good wine and sushi."

    In July, Compton will contest the next two UCI cross country World Cups in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, and Windham, New York, United States as well as the US national...

  • US Cup Triple Crown Series to wrap up this weekend

    Lea Davison (Specialized)
    Article published:
    June 02, 2011, 20:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Santa Ynez Valley Classic hosts series final

    Long known as a stop on the now defunct National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) calendar, the Santa Ynez Valley Classic will host the final round of the US Cup Triple Crown All Mountain series this weekend, June 4-5.

    The rolling hills just north of Santa Barbara have had their share of battles over the years, and this weekend looks to be no different as elite men and women racers battle it out for nearly US$15,000 in cash.

    The US Cup will be paying out $10,000 in series overall combined pursue for the top three series riders in each division, with the winners taking home $2,500 each. In addition, the weekend prize money could top an additional $5,000 making for a nice payroll for racers.

    Men's series leader Max Plaxton (Specialized Factory USA Team) is set to line up along his teammate Lea Davison, who leads the women's series by a scant two points over Luna's Georgia Gould. For Plaxton, Santa Ynez was the site of the Canadian's first breakthrough US National win a few years back when he took the elite short track race.

    "I really like coming back to Santa Ynez," said the Canadian Plaxton. "I got my first US win a few years back in the short track, so the place has been good to me. Plus the payout is really nice motivation for me to come down and race!"

    Another rider who broke through in Santa Ynez is second place series rider Sid Taberlay (Yeti/Kenda). The Aussie got a surprise national series win on a hot day back in 2008 that launched the Tasmanian's US career. Taberlay is looking to break his winless streak in this year's 2011 Triple Crown by taking a win this weekend.

    For Specialized's Lea Davison, it has been a Cinderella story on her 2011 comeback season after a year off due to injury.

    "I'm just excited to be back on the bike this year and feeling relatively good," said Davison. The US Cup puts on really great events and with a break from the World Cups, I thought I would come out and give it a go...

  • US roster set for marathon world championships

    Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) continues to hold onto the jersey after a fine fourth place finish.
    Article published:
    June 08, 2011, 17:26 BST
    Cycling News

    Bishop to lead four-person team to Italy

    USA Cycling selected four athletes to represent the US team at the marathon world championships in Montebelluna, Italy, on June 26.

    Three men have been named to the team as discretionary selections including Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing), Blake Harlan (Jamis Factory) and Michael McCalla (Magura). The men will race 115.7km.

    Bishop won the Bonelli Park US Pro XCT in March and placed second at the 2011 Pan American Mountain Bike Championships in Chia-Cundiamarca, Colombia. He also recently won the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race and the Massanutten Hoo Ha! Last year, he finished fifth at the US marathon national championships in Breckenridge, Colorado.

    Harlan took the top prize at the Trans Andes Challenge in Chile and was runner-up at the White Tanks Marathon in Arizona.

    McCalla placed seventh in last year's marathon nationals and finished 12th in last year's cross country national championships in Granby, Colorado.

    Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon) will be the sole woman on the American team, and she is also a discretionary pick. Looney will race 98.3km. She was eighth in last year's marathon nationals and 30th at the marathon Worlds in St. Wendel, Germany. She also won the 2010 Bailey Hundo Marathon in Bailey, Colorado, and placed second in each of the 2010 Gunnison Growler in Gunnison, Colorado, and 2010 Ouachita Challenge 60-Miler in Mena, Arkansas, races.

    US national team for the marathon world championships

    Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing)

  • Byberg healthy again and back on track

    Lene Byberg (Specialized Racing)
    Article published:
    June 08, 2011, 19:13 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Three top 10s in first World Cups bode well

    During the first three World Cups of this year, Lene Byberg (Specialized) has proven that she is back on track in 2011 after a tough 2010 season.

    "After last season, I'm very excited to be up there again," said Byberg. "Every race now, I'm getting closer."

    The Norwegian cross country racer finished 5th, 8th, and 5th respectively in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; Dalby, United Kingdom; and Offenburg, Germany. Presently, the petite, blonde racer is enjoying a mid-season break from racing before the next World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne in early July. During her time off the circuit, she's concentrating on training and spending some time at home.

    Coming off a silver medal at the world championships in Canberra in 2009, Byberg's 2010 season started well enough at Sea Otter, but then she got ill before the World Cup in Dalby. "I rode through it, and then I got more ill. The weekend after was the next World Cup, and I still raced, but my body couldn't handle it. I didn't rest enough."

    "I pushed too much because my brain wanted more than my body. I didn't stop and take time to rest. I blew the whole 2010 season. Again when I started training again, I pushed too hard and I got into a bad cycle."

    Byberg finally pulled the plug on 2010 just before the world championships last September. "I decided to just stop, not do the Worlds because I was not in shape to do the race. I decided to recover totally and start all over. I think it was a very good decision and it seems to have worked."

    Currently ranked fourth in the World...

  • New location for US Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals

    On the start line of the cross country race
    Article published:
    June 08, 2011, 21:00 BST
    Cycling News

    New Mexico hosting in 2011 and 2012

    The US Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals will be held at New Mexico's Angle Fire Resort in 2011 and 2012 per a new two-year agreement with the resort.

    After unanticipated difficulties forced the original venue in Davis, West Virginia, to step down this spring as the event's host, Angel Fire agreed to step in and offer up its bike park for the three days of collegiate national championship racing.

    Both the 2011 and 2012 events will be held on their originally scheduled weekends of October 28-30, 2011, and October 26-28, 2012.

    Nestled in northern New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains, just 25 miles from Taos, the Angel Fire Resort is known as a hot spot for mountain biking. The resort's bike park has played host to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2005 and the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in 2006. It also annually puts on the popular Chile Challenge Mountain States Cup event.

    The venue is fresh off of a major expansion during which 29 miles of trails were built or enhanced. It will offer a wide variety of technical terrain for co-eds to compete on for US national titles in the cross country, short track cross country, downhill, and dual slalom events.

    "Angel Fire is the perfect backdrop for the Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships," said Hogan Koesis, director of the mountain bike park at Angel Fire Resort. "Our extensive trail network and rugged terrain will offer the riders the best location and conditions. Bringing this caliber of a race to New Mexico is great for our state and we are thrilled to be working closely again with USA Cycling."

  • Blood clot derails Sahm's plans to defend TransAlp title

    Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls) will not get to defend their TransAlp title together in 2011.
    Article published:
    June 09, 2011, 15:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Platt may partner with Dietsch

    Defending TransAlp champion Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls) will not race this 2011 edition of the mountain bike stage race on July 16-23 due to a medical condition. Sahm has been diagnosed with a thrombosis (clot) of a vein in his leg.

    Last year, Sahm raced to victory with teammate Karl Platt in the eight-day race from Mittenwald, Germany, to Riva del Garda, Italy. The pair also won in 2007 and 2008.

    "The diagnosis was a shock. But now, I finally know where I stand and why nothing has worked out since March," the Swiss-based Sahm said. Prior to the diagnosis, he had been complaining of severe pain in his left knee and not racing at the level he had expected.

    "When I realized what could have happened in the last couple of weeks, I had to sit down for a moment."

    In the worst case, Sahm could have suffered a pulmonary embolism. "According to my doctors, I was very lucky and had a very good guardian angel with me. And I don't want to use him too much in the upcoming weeks."

    The 34-year-old is currently receiving therapy. He is taking an anti-coagulent to reduce the clotting of blood. It should speed up the breaking up of the clot. However, during the treatment, he is at greater risk of internal bleeding in the event of a crash, so the rider is not racing.

    Treatment is expected to last three months, which puts Platt out of competition for the 670km TransAlp, the longest edition in history. His Bulls team is looking at other partnering options for Sahm's usual partner Platt.

    "It's pretty likely that we will field Karl Platt and Thomas Dietsch. Both are specialized in stage racing and know each other quite a while now," said the squad's manager Friedemann Schmude. "Thus, both should go very well together and also contest the victory." There may be a second Team Bulls squad, too, but management is still trying to figure out which riders would take part in it.

  • Hermida tops the favorites list in Engelberg

    José Hermida (Multivan Merida Biking Team) flatted
    Article published:
    June 09, 2011, 17:38 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss Racer Bikes round five on for this weekend

    World champion Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida) will be the man to beat at this weekend's Racer Bikes Cup in Engelberg, Switzerland. It will be round five of the Swiss national series.

    Last year's winner Martin Fanger and Lukas Flückiger, Patrick Gallati and Moritz Milatz are expected to challenge Hermida, who will be making his first Swiss Racer Bikes Cup appearance of the year. Fanger's 2010 victory in Engelberg came in tough conditions while Milatz is fresh off a victory in the German national championships last weekend.

    Among the women, Lisi Osl, Swiss champion Esther Suss and European champion Katherine Leumann are expected to battle for victory. Osl won the Racer Bikes Cup rounds in Schaan and Lugano/Tesserete while Leumann won this race two years ago and was third last year. She is fresh off victory at the AlpenTour Trophy in Schladming. Suss will be racing for the first time in Engelberg. Finally, Sarah Koba is another woman to watch. She made the podium last weekend in Gränichen and is leading the series.

    "I'm happy about this route and apart from the weather, I have the best memories from last year," said Koba, who finished fourth in 2010.

    The elite and junior men and women will race on Sunday, June 12.