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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, March 24, 2011

Date published:
March 24, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Flückiger brothers target stage wins at Cape Epic

    Mathias and Lukas Fluckiger during stage six of the 2010 Cape Epic.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2011, 16:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Swiss duo to compete in South African stage race for third time

    The Fluckiger brothers, Lukas, 26, and Mathias, 22, from Switzerland will participate again in this year's Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa from March 27 to April 3. The brothers, who are regulars on the World Cup circuit, won the final stage of the 2009 Cape Epic as well as stages 6 and 7 of last year's event, finishing in fourth position overall.

    "Two years ago, we participated in our first Cape Epic and had a lot of bad luck, but we learnt along the way and had a few good stages last year. We still have a lot of potential to do better in the future. We had so much fun the last two years, and the Cape Epic is definitely the event for us, the real start of the season that will get us in good shape for the World Cup series starting three weeks later."

    "Yes, it's always good preparation for the season. But it's not just training as we'll ride most of the stages at full gas!" said Mathias.

    Lukas reckons they will have an advantage over the other riders because they are brothers. "I can't ride with another partner. Mathias is like a second part of me and vice versa. We need each other. We have no bad conversations during the race week. He knows what I need and I know everything about him too and that is one of the best important factors in this event.

    "A good example is when we want to attack, we can read each other without speaking, just from our body language, and we know how fast we must go without communicating it vocally."

    "Some days Luk is better, then other days I'm better," said Mathias, "and we must always think of the other when there is a big difference."

    For the past couple of years, Mathias has been busy completing his education and military service, but the two brothers will soon be spending more time together. "We had completely different training times, but we'll train together as much as possible in the future," said...

  • Sornson and Yeager to represent Team CF at their first Cape Epic

    Selene Yeager (Team CF)
    Article published:
    March 22, 2011, 20:13 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American endurance racers head to South Africa

    Veteran endurance mountain bike athletes Cheryl Sornson and Selene Yeager are teaming up to compete in the open women's category in the upcoming Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race from March 27 to April 3 in South Africa. Both Team CF riders are newcomers to the event.

    "I've always been intrigued by the Cape Epic. Our team manager was interested in having us do some high profile stage races this year; so I tossed my hat in the ring and we got in," said Yeager to Cyclingnews.

    The two will form the only all-women's team from the United States competing in this year's event. Sornson and Yeager hope build on a successful 2010 season in which Sornson placed second overall in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Race Series and first in the Michaux Endurance Series. Yeager won the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic, placed second in the USA Cycling MTB National Ultra Endurance Series and won the Mid-Atlantic Super Series endurance series.

    "We'd like to ride strong, represent Team CF and the US well, win a stage or two and totally soak in the experience," said Yeager to Cyclingnews of the duo's ambitions for their first Cape Epic.

    "We're both very optimistic. Cheryl is going to use the race as a launching point for the NUE series. And I hope it will translate into a great springboard for the Trans-Sylvania Epic and then the Breck Epic."

    Sornson and Yeager trained for the Cape Epic this winter in their home state of Pennsylvania, which proved quite challenging due to extreme weather conditions.  They will likely face very hot conditions upon arrival in South Africa.

    "You can only control your controllables, you know? We live in Pennsylvania. It's not hot in the winter. Getting outside on the bikes was priority one. So we trained through the winter, not missing a single workout," said Yeager of the duo's preparation.

    "Neither of...

  • London 2012 Olympic Games mountain bike course construction completed

    British National Team racers test out new rock features on the 2012 Olympic Games mountain bike course.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 14:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    British Cycling riders try out the track

    Liam Killeen, David Fletcher, Kenta Gallagher and Lily Matthews from the Great Britain Cycling Team took to the 2012 Olympic mountain bike course at Hadleigh Farm, Essex for the first time today as the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Essex County Council and The Salvation Army marked the completion of the course construction works on time and on budget.

    Construction of the course began in July 2010 with four full time staff members and one timber expert, and work on the course is officially complete in advance of the Test Event scheduled for July 31, 2011. During construction, 500 tons of rock and 3,500 tons of crushed stone were used to create the course.  The course was launched last fall, when some riders and the media had a chance to preview it while still under construction.

    The 2012 Olympic Games venue covers a 550-acre site, encompassing farmland owned by The Salvation Army and the adjacent Country Park. It is being delivered by Essex County Council in partnership with LOCOG.

    The 5km circuit is situated on open hillside as opposed to a forested venue more typical of mountain biking events. The open venue will facilitate spectating - large sections of the course will be visible from many locations across the site. It has been designed to provide a physical and technical challenge for the world's leading mountain bikers in 2012.

    The course includes the yet to be named climbs, rocky descents and north-shore timber framed structures which will provide opportunities for riders to take advantage of their technical abilities throughout the races. Multiple options have been created with varying degrees of difficulty at a number of the obstacles where the ability of the riders will be thoroughly tested.

    "The excitement...

  • Perfect attendance for Evans at Cape Epic

    David George and Kevin Evans at the 2009 Absa Cape Epic
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 16:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Evans and George partner to form favorite South African team

    One of South Africa's favourites to take top honours at this year's Absa Cape Epic, Kevin Evans will again be partnering with David George as Team 360LIFE. Evans, 32, has participated in all seven previous editions of the race, providing him with excellent experience to face the fast pace promised during this year's event, which will take place from March 27 to April 3.

    Evans' CV is impressive. He has won the MTN South African Marathon Series six times, is a four-time national marathon champion, a two-time national cross country champion and a national time trial champion. He's placed in the top 10 at the World Marathon Championships, ninth in the Tour of Ireland and has represented South African in nine marathon, cross country and road Worlds.

    He finished third overall in the Cape Epic in 2005, 2008 and 2010, and he was fourth in 2009, and he is excited to be reunited with his teammate Dave George, 35, in this year's race.

    "The Cape Epic has brought the world of mountain biking to our doorstep and given us the opportunity to become world class," said Evans. "It has brought so much to South African professional mountain biking, and for that I say thank you.

    "Dave and I have unfinished business when it comes to the Cape Epic, so we're very excited to be back in our own team."

    George is reportedly in the best shape his ever been. He has been the national road and time trial champion five times and is a two-time Commonwealth Games medalist.

    "I can't wait to pick up where we left off. This time it will be on our own terms," said George of his upcoming race with Evans. It's a chance for us to take on the best in the world right here in our own backyard. That never happens!"

    Evans, who has recovered from an emergency appendectomy just a few months ago, reckons they have a good chance in the race this year. "We have very similar physiology, which I...

  • Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team presented

    Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup Team: Andi Berger, Anna Baylis-Scheiderbauer, Jörg Scheiderbauer, Geri Schrempf, Robert Pintaric, Adelheid Morath, Simon Scheiber, Blaza Klemencic, Charly Markt, Sabrina Enaux, thomas Litscher, Natascha Binder (Amateur), Oliver Schwarz (Ötztal), Michael Raab (x-Bionic), Uwe Daniel (Felt), Peter Kraaijvanger (Shimano), Jens Machacek
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 19:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike team is hungry for success in its second season

    Youthful passion, professional experience and a hunger for success marked the Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team presentation for the 2011 season. The UCI-registered mountain bike team is racing under the motto "Driven by emotion!".

    The team, backed by American bike manufacturer Felt, the Swiss clothing company X-Bionic and the Austrian holiday region of Ötztal, heads into its second season.

    Swiss Thomas Litscher, who finished second at the Under 23 cross country world championship last year and ambitious Australian Under 23 racer Paul Van Der Ploeg join the team for 2011.

    At the Worlds in Switzerland this year, Litscher is hoping to win the title he narrowly missed last year. In the mean time, he'll be mixing it up with the elite riders at the World Cups. The young rider may be faster than ever after recently finishing off his required military service.

    Van Der Ploeg claimed his second Oceania Championship title in a row this past weekend and easily secured the win in the Under 23 Australian National Series with his performance. With his second place in the elite short track, he claimed the overall title in the short track, too.

    Austrian Charly Markt got the team off to a good start in 2011 with an overall win at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, proving he's even stronger than last year. He raced to victory ahead of marathon world champion Alban Lakata and World Cup overall Jaroslav Kulhavy.

    "It was a great feeling, and I'd like it to go on," said Markt of his success in Cyprus.

    Another Austrian, Simon Scheiber, is making the move to the elite ranks for this season. His goals are to gain experience and take advantage of his talents.

    Slovenian national champion Blaza Klemencic is heading up the team's women. Her big goals are a World Cup podium finish and a medal at the marathon world championships in late June...

  • Stander and Sauser team up for Cape Epic

    Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander win stage three of the 2010 Absa Cape Epic
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 20:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    South African and Swiss former world champs partner for fourth time

    Christoph Sauser, a former cross country world champion and will team up with newly crowned South African marathon champion Burry Stander on team for the fourth time at the Absa Cape Epic from March 27 to April 3.

    Sauser, 34, has raced professionally since 1993, and in 2006, he won the Cape Epic with fellow Swiss racer Silvio Bundi. Although he lives in the Swiss Alps, he spends at least two months training in Stellenbosch each year.

    Stander, 23, who lives and trains in Kwazulu-Natal, is also the current South African national cross country champion as well as the African cross country champion. He is a former under 23 world champion and World Cup winner. In September, he won bronze at the elite cross country Worlds.

    Sauser, who had done every Cape Epic since 2006 says he really enjoys this event. "It's a big race to win, and I love stage racing! It creates stories, rivalry and friendship over so many days. It's tough and a win is worth so much more compared to a one-day race.

    "Plus, the Cape Epic is so well organised with big hype surrounding it, and we ride through beautiful landscape. We're riding for, the charity I started with a friend four years ago. There's a lot of passion and work going into it which I really enjoy."

    "We also get along very well, we're balanced and we have an excellent support team," said Sauser of racing with Stander.

    "We're both mentally tough or stubborn as most would call it," said Stander.

    Finishing in second place last year, Sauser said they were naturally disappointed. "When we're at the start, of course we want to win. Our nine stage victories over the last three years were a very nice substitute though.

    "As always, we're very confident this year. But with confidence and fitness you can probably win a swimming race, not the Cape Epic. So many unexpected things can happen to anybody. We'll just keep our fingers crossed."

    "Second is the...

  • Second round of US Pro XCT rolls into Fontana

    Can anyone beat Georgia Gould (Luna) in the cross country?
    Article published:
    March 24, 2011, 13:55 GMT
    Ty Kady

    Pros are locked and loaded for a weekend of Triple Crown racing

    Two weeks ago at the Bonelli Park US Cup Triple Crown opener, the world of American cross country was set ablaze. All off-season chatter and speculation about who was and wasn't fit was put to rest.

    A demanding World Cup style course left nowhere to hide for the riders, and it became obvious who had done their winter homework and who had not. The course profile turned the men's cross country race upside down on the last lap, during which there were multiple position changes.

    On the men's side, the most notable news was the return of Cannondale's Jeremiah Bishop to cross country racing. Bishop had a two-year absence from focusing on cross country racing; instead the Virginian was otherwise occupied with endurance and stage race events.

    Bishop took a gutsy win with a last lap charge in Saturday's cross country races, and then the former US Short Track National Champion let it be known he means business in 2011 by taking Sunday's short track race over Specialized's Max Plaxton. JB drew first blood in 2011 to take round one of the US Cup Triple Crown Series.

    In the women's race, Luna's Georgia Gould laid waste to the women's field in Saturday's cross country race, showing she is still the woman to beat.

    But the story of the first US Pro XCT weekend was the return of Specialized's Lea Davison, who took second in the cross country, and then went out and won the super D and short track races. With Davison taking two of the three races on the weekend, she marked a brilliant return following a year off due to a hip injury.

    Gould earned the weekend's Triple Crown overall on a tie breaker, with the cross country race being the deciding factor.

    Going into round two in Fontana, don't write off the other racers. With a couple of weeks since the Bonelli Park opener, racers have shaken off the winter cobwebs and head into the Fontana national series round guns blazing. With the Sea Otter US Pro XCT and the World Cup...

  • Milka-Trek's Vastaranta and Pietersma racing together at Cape Epic

    Jukka Vastaranta (Milka-Trek) will race the Cape Epic.
    Article published:
    March 24, 2011, 15:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Finnish and Dutch mountain bike champions pair up

    Finnish national champion Jukka Vastaranta and Dutch National Champion Jelmer Pietersma will participate together in this year's Absa Cape Epic as team Milka-Trek 2. The mountain bike stage race will start on March 27 and wrap up on April 3.

    Vastaranta, 26, started mountain biking when he was nine and participated in his first race when he was 11, but he said that he does not really know what to expect of his very first Cape Epic.

    As an accomplished mountain bike and road bike athlete, Vastaranta was the European junior mountain bike champion in 2001, the Finnish elite mountain bike champion in 2001, 2009 and 2010, and also came fourth at the European marathon championships. As a road biker, he was the junior winner of the World Cup in 2001, finished second at the World Championships in 2002, won a stage at the Ster Electro Tour in 2005, and came in second at the Tour of Luxembourg in 2005. In 2009, he also raced with the Finnish National Team.

    Pietersma, 28, has twice been the under 23 Dutch mountain bike champion and was the winner of the Tour De France VTT in 2009.

    Although it will be Vastaranta's first Cape Epic, Pietersma is returning for his second time after participating last year. "The Absa Cape Epic is one of the biggest races in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2010 event. During the first stages, I felt really strong - we were riding for the podium and took a stage victory. However, I got sick after stage 4 and then it was a struggle for me to get to the finish.

    "This year I have a very strong riding partner in Vastaranta, so I hope I'll be able to get my revenge on last year by riding a good Cape Epic without any illness or problems, achieving a great result."

    The two riders have similar styles despite their different sizes.

    "We're not really climbers, but we can if we have to," said Vastaranta. "When we compete in the same...