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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, March 17, 2011

Date published:
March 17, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Greater Shepparton hosting Oceania Mountain Bike Championships

    Rowena Fry charges up the first hill in the Womens Elite XC
    Article published:
    March 15, 2011, 23:22 GMT
    Cycling News

    Oceanias doubling as final round of Australian national series this weekend

    The fourth and final round of the 2010-2011 Australian Mountain Bike Series is set to make for an enthralling showdown as the nation's top elite mountain bike riders converge on Greater Shepparton this weekend to contest the national series title. The series finale will take place in conjunction with the 2011 UCI Oceania Mountain Bike Championships from Thursday, March 18 to Sunday, March 20.

    Featuring four formats - cross country, four cross and the downhill, riders will take to the challenging terrain at Mount Major while the short track will be held in Shepparton.

    Competition will be fierce as Australia's best take on a contingent of international visitors from the Oceania region including a strong New Zealand presence.

    One of the nation's best prospects for London 2012, five-time Australian national champion and current national series leader Chris Jongewaard will be looking to achieve a dual 2011 national series and Oceania championships title to cap off a successful return to mountain biking.

    Throughout the series, the South Australian celebrated wins in rounds two and three of the national series as well as the Otway Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon before taking out his fifth title at the 2011 Australian Mountain Bike Championships in Adelaide last month.

    Having set the benchmark, Jongewaard, 32, will need to stand strong in the elite men's cross country taking place on Friday, March 18. Queenslander Aiden Lefmann, who is trailing by just 22 points in the current national series standings, will prove Jongewaard's biggest threat and the pair are expected to put on a great contest. He'll also battle New Zealand's Dirk Peters and Carl Jones.

    Tasmania's reigning national series champion Rowena Fry has a point to prove as she lines up for the elite women's cross country event. After dominating the national series with wins in rounds two and three, things didn't go quite according to plan for the 27-year-old at...

  • New Zealand sends 32 mountain bikers to Oceania Championships

    Carl Jones on his way to winning the elite men's cross country national championship
    Article published:
    March 16, 2011, 2:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cross country and gravity titles up for grabs

    New Zealand is sending a 32-strong contingent of mountain bikers to the 2011 Oceania Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Shepparton, Australia, on March 18-20.

    The cross country athletes have a lot at stake, with 2010 London Olympic qualification spots up for grabs in the elite men's and women's races. Rosara Joseph (RaboBank-Giant) leads the New Zealand women's charge, with a win in this event the only result that will confirm a spot for New Zealand at this stage of the Olympic ranking process. Joseph will not only be racing a strong Australian contingent, but an equally determined group of her compatriots who are targeting the same result.

    Dirk Peters (Santa Cruz) and Carl Jones (Waiariki) are New Zealand's in-form elite male cross country racers, who are targeting a placing of 1 or 2 from this event. Like the women, Peters and Jones are racing in Shepparton with the sole purpose of qualifying this 2012 London Olympic spot, and have timed their preparation to perfection in their build-ups. Both have fantastic support from several other New Zealand athletes, and their Friday race will be a highlight of the Oceania programme.

    Anton Cooper will get his first opportunity to race an international level event in the Under 19 category - and the Christchurch flier is quietly confident of dominating any competition the Oceania event stacks up against him. He is fresh off elite wins at Motatapu this weekend and Karapoti the previous weekend.

    Defending Oceania elite men's downhill champion Cam Cole (Lapierre International) leads a development-focused downhill team at Shepparton. Many of the downhill athletes making this trip across the Tasman have had strong domestic season results and are using this as an opportunity to measure themselves against an always strong Australian gravity team, while also targeting ranking points before the UCI World Cup season starts at the end of April.

    Switching back to downhill from BMX,...

  • Phil Liggett saddles up for South African race

    Phil Liggett will be spending some time on a mountain bike at the Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c off-road race.
    Article published:
    March 16, 2011, 15:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Veteran commentator to participate in mountain bike stage race

    Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett will indulge his twin passions of cycling and South Africa when he sets off on the nine-day Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c off-road race starting on April 29.

    "With it's terrific countryside, South Africa was made for cycling, especially mountain biking," said Liggett, who divides what little leisure time he has between his holiday home in Gordon's Bay and game farm near Phalaborwa.

    Known worldwide as the "voice of cycling", he flies almost 200,000 kilometres a year, doing broadcast work for various channels including ITV in Britain, Versus in America, SBS in Australia and, in South Africa, M-Net.

    He has covered 38 Tours de France, 13 Olympic Games and seven Commonwealth Games. Aside from cycling, he also commentates on triathlons and ski-jumping.

    Liggett is currently in South Africa after doing commentary work on the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour - the race that first brought him to these shores in the early 90s. He will jet in again in time for the pre-race registration at Melrose Arch in Sandton on April 28.

    "I think the joBerg2c is taking mountain biking back to grass roots," he said. "It's a great opportunity to ride in safe conditions over a spectacular route."

    Fairbairn Capital general manager Stuart Loxton said apart from being a cycling legend, Liggett shared a love for the country, its people and particularly its wildlife.

    "It's our pleasure and honour to be able to facilitate his presence," said Loxton on behalf of the second-year event.

    With Liggett swapping his microphone for a mountain bike, 600 fellow participants will get the rare opportunity to sweat it out alongside him as they cross the picturesque agricultural heartland of the country.

    The 900-kilometre tour starts in Heidelberg just south of Johannesburg and finishes on the beach at Scottburgh in...

  • National champions Buys and Bassingthwaighte partner for Cape Epic

    Marc Bassingthwaighte (Namibia) en route to second place in the elite men's race.
    Article published:
    March 16, 2011, 17:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Duo aims for stage win as training for cross country objectives

    The 2010 South African Under 23 national cross country champion Philip Buys will be teaming up with good friend and Namibian cross country champion Marc Bassingthwaighte for the eighth edition of the Absa Cape Epic, taking place from March 27 to April 3. With an impressive first place in the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Mountain Bike Challenge as well as the Emperors Palace Mountain Bike Challenge in 2011, Buys is fully prepared for his third Cape Epic.

    Durban-born Buys is back for more this year owing to his past enjoyment of the race. "It's a great opportunity to ride and mingle among the world's best riders, and then you realise what the sport is all about. Both Marc and I have more or less the same goals for the Cape Epic and the rest of the year," said Buys.

    "Philip and I are good friends and we're like-minded, as well as focused on the same goals so we prepare similarly. We are both win hungry and together we want to try to at least win a stage," said Bassingthwaighte.

    Buys, 22, known in the cycling community as a man who is not happy with second place, has completed an impressive seven races in 2011 already including the Cape Argus Mountain Bike Challenge, The Emperors Palace Mountain Bike Challenge, MTN Sabie Ultra Marathon, MTN Clarens Ultra Marathon, MTN Attakwas Ultra Marathon, MTN Barberton Ultra Marathon and the UCI African Cross Country Championships. His strong point when it comes to mountain biking is his technical riding.

    Bassingthwaighte, a regular on the podium for top three finishes in cross country races, said their focus for the 2011 Cape Epic is not much different. "We train to race cross country so our interest is not so much in the long distance or overall win. We'd like to select a shorter stage and go for a stage win. We both have shown that we can hold onto the wheels of top riders in past races this year already." Bassingthwaighte participated in the Common Wealth Games as a member of the Namibian team in...

  • Bishop and Gould are early leaders in 2011 Pro XCT

    Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) riding a ridge above the lake
    Article published:
    March 16, 2011, 19:49 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mata, Prado top Pro UET standings

    Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) and Georgia Gould (Luna) are leading the US Pro Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT) standings after one round.  This past weekend marked the unofficial start to mountain bike season at the US Pro Cross Country Tour (US Pro XCT) opening round on March 12 at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California. The event also doubled as round one of the US Cup's Triple Crown.

    In a heated men's cross country race that in which nearly 80 men toed the start line, Bishop claimed the win after taking the lead from Sid Tableray in the final lap. Max Plaxton (Specialized) rode to second place while Todd Wells (Specialized) rounded out third.

    Picking up where she left off last year, Gould started her season right with a win in the women's cross country contest. After riding solo at the front for most of the race, the Colorado rider crossed the finish line more than two minutes ahead of runners-up Lea Davison (Specialized) and Krista Park (Cannondale-NoTubes)

    Among the U23 men, Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) is currently the top rider after a 10th place finish. He is ahead of second- and third-ranked U23 athletes Kerry Werner (BMC Mountain Bike Development Team), in 18th place, and Mexican rider Alejando Barahas (Mexican National Team), in 26th place.

    Lydia Tanner is the top female U23 athlete in the women's Pro XCT standings, in 10th place. She's followed closely by fellow U23 riders Erica Zaveta (BMC Mountain Bike Development Team), in 14th, and Kaila Hart (Fort Lewis College), in 17th.

    See Cyclingnews' full coverage...

  • Eastern States Cup downhill announced

    A racer at the Eastern States Cup venue of Plattekille, New York
    Article published:
    March 16, 2011, 20:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    11 races set for New England series

    The Eastern States Cup is heading into its second year with four new venues. The 2011 USA Cycling Regional Championship Downhill Mountain Bike Race Series will kick off in early June.

    Pat's Peak, New Hampshire; Attitash, New Hampshire; Killington, Vermont; and Whiteface, New York join existing venues Plattekill, New York and Mount Snow, Vermont.

    Within the Eastern States Cup, three separate state championships will be contested. Plattekill and Whiteface will host four races for the New York State Championship. Mount Snow and Killington will host four races for the Vermont State Championship while Pat's Peak and Attitash will decide the New Hampshire State Championship with two races over two weeks.

    The Eastern States Cup will support junior racers by offering a $600 bonus to be split between the top three category 1 under 18 male racers. Elite men and women will split up to $1,200 per race and $1,600 for the final standings.

    2011 Eastern States Cup Downhill Race Dates
    June 4-5: Round 1 - Mountain Snow, Vermont - Vermont Championship #1
    June 11-12: Round 2 - Pats Peak. New Hampshire - New Hampshire Championship #1
    June 18-19: Round 3 - Attitash, New Hampshire - New Hampshire Championship Finals
    July 2-3: Round 4 - Plattekill. New York - New York Championship #1
    July 16-17: Round 5 - Mt. Snow. Vermont - Vermont Championship #2
    July 23-24: Round 6 - Plattekill. New York - New York Championship #2
    July 30-31: Round 7 - Killington Vermont - Vermont Championship #3
    August 20-21: Round 8 - Mt Snow. Vermont - Vermont Championship finals
    September 3-4: Round 9 - Plattekill. New York - New York Championship #3
    September 10-11: Round 10 - Whiteface, New York - New York Championship Finals
    October 9-10: Finals - Plattekill, New York

  • Tour de Timor route released for 2011

    2011 Tour de Timor route map
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 1:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    "Peace begins with me" is theme of this year's mountain bike stage race

    The Tour de Timor will return for its third year on September 11-16 2011. The mountain bike stage race will be run with the theme "Peace begins with me" and is hosted by President José Ramos-Horta and the Government of Timor-Leste. Organizers have announced the route and dates for this year's edition.

    "The 2011 Tour de Timor is an auspicious occasion for this young nation. With the enormous success of the first and second iterations, it is fair to say that the Tour de Timor has become a memorable annual event on the calendar for both professional cyclists and tourists alike," said President Ramos-Horta.

    "The Tour de Timor is the most participated event of the year with thousands of Timorese in the cities, towns and most remote villages turning out daily on the streets to welcome you to their neighbourhoods and cheer on their riders."

    In 2010, 75 Timorese competed in the event with the Da Costa brothers regularly making the top 10 among the foreigners. They will be aiming for a podium finish this year.

    "This year you will visit my childhood mountain village of Laclubar as well as the spectacular far East of the country," said Ramos-Horta. "I am once again delighted to invite riders from around the world to join us, to experience the toughest mountain bike race in Asia, and to join us in celebrating peace for Timor-Leste.

    President Ramos-Horta initiated the Tour de Timor in 2009 to assist in consolidating peace and national unity in Timor-Leste. "I launched the Dili 'City of Peace' Programme to cultivate peace in the country. The Tour de Timor is a multi-day event that crosses the rivers, the mountains, and the jungles taking in much of the interior. It is unique also because you are crossing through a country that witnessed so much violence and devastation and today is at peace, evidence that when human beings have dreams and wish to work toward...

  • Van Houts free to ride again after Clenbuterol positive

    Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2011, 9:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Convicted but not punished for positive Clenbuterol test

    Mountain biker Rudi van Houts was found guilty of having Clenbuterol in his body, but the Dutch cycling federation said it would not punish him for it. He is eligible to ride again immediately.

    He tested positive in late October of 2010, immediately after returning from a trip to Mexico, and claimed that the product could only have entered his body by eating contaminated food.

    According to the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Wielren Unie, van Houts was not acquitted, but convicted without punishment. “There was Clenbuterol in Van Houts' body,” said Herman Ram, director of the federation's doping authority, to

    “In this case the disciplinary committee ruled at the request of van Houts and the advice of the doping authority, where we knew there was a violation but that van Houts cannot be blamed for it. There is no punishment imposed.”

    “This is a load off my heart,” van Houts said. “I have been through a very difficult period, but I'm glad it is behind me. I can race again.”

    The Dutch mountainbiker of the year hopes to return to German team Multivan-Merida, where he has ridden the last two years.