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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, March 28, 2013

Date published:
March 28, 2013, 22:00

Edited by Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

  • Burry Stander Memorial Trophy to be awarded at Cape Epic

    The Burry Stander Memorial Trophy will go to the top South African finishers at the Cape Epic
    Article published:
    March 22, 2013, 16:50
    By:
    Cycling News

    Trophy to honor the top South African finishers

    The Burry Stander Memorial Trophy was shown for the first time to riders at the prologue of this year's Cape Epic on Sunday. Burry Stander, who died tragically in a collision with a taxi whilst training on January 3, would have ridden the 2013 event as the reigning champion.

    Created by Angus Taylor, the trophy will honour the first and to date only South African winner. It will be awarded to the overall winner of the African Jersey. The African Jersey was introduced in 2007 and awarded to the leading African riders in the race.

    Burry's wife, Cherise Stander said, "This race was incredibly important to our family. Last year when I was racing abroad, Burry phoned me immediately after crossing the finish line each day. Mandie, Burry's mom, was the first person to congratulate him in 2011 when he won for the first time as the first South African winner. Charles, his dad, has ridden the race twice."

    "The Cape Epic gave Burry a chance to perform on the international stage in his home country. Four of us are riding this year in honour of Burry and we're doing great. I'm so honoured that Angus was inspired by Burry's legacy to create such a meaningful trophy."

    Taylor said, "It's an honour to be part of this tribute to Burry. The trophy was inspired by a chiwara, which is a styled wood carved antelope used in African ceremonies, similar to a white dove in Western tradition. Shown running on a simplistic base, predominately South African materials were used including haematite found in Thabazimbi and Matumi wood, which is only found in rivers. Thabazimbi means mountain of steal. To me it represents the mountains that the Absa Cape Epic riders must cross during their journey."

    Cherise Stander will personally hand the Burry Stander Memorial Trophy to the winners after the final stage on Sunday.

    See full coverage from the Cape Epic.

  • Mission accomplished for Sauser and Kulhavy at Cape Epic

    Jaroslav Kulhavy and Christoph Sauser (Burry Stander-Songo)
    Article published:
    March 25, 2013, 17:05
    By:
    Cycling News

    Burry Stander's memory honored

    Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy set out to race the 2013 Cape Epic with two goals in mind: honor the memory of their late teammate Burry Stander and win the race. They accomplished both yesterday.

    Sauser won the Cape Epic twice before with Stander, who was killed when he was hit by a taxi while training on January 3, 2013. Prior to Stander's death, they had planned to race together again this year. Then, Olympic cross country champion Kulhavy stepped in to race with Sauser.

    "Riding for Burry those eight days, it was so important to give back," said Sauser according to iamspecialized.com. "When I was out there suffering, I'd tell myself, 'Be happy you're here' compared to Burry who lost his one and only life. It put things in perspective."

    "It's one of my biggest victories," said first-time Cape Epic racer Kulhavy to iamspecialized.com. "It's one of the biggest stage races in the world. It's amazing! I'm glad for us and for Burry's family."

    The pair kicked off the eight-day race with a prologue win and seemed on the fast track to glory, but in true Cape Epic style, despite being the strongest racers out on course, they had to overcome some obstacles along the way. There were three consecutive days of bad luck, including a broken wheel one day, missing a turn and getting slightly lost another day and finally breaking a chain and their chain tool. All three incidents cost them time and they dropped as low as third on the GC while rivals Team Bulls looked like they might be on their way to an overall win.

    Sauser and Kulhavy's luck turned around on stage 4, which they won, and victories in stages 5 and 6 followed. They rode a conservative stage 7 to the finish in Lourensford, where they celebrated the overall victory with their support crew and members of Burry Stander's family.

    Sauser and Kulhavy weren't the only riders racing in memory of Stander. Several teams rode in his honor, including his wife Cherise Stander, brother Duane Stander and father Charles Stander. All three finished the race, with Cherise and Duane taking an emotional second place finish during one stage and a fifth place overall in the mixed category.

    Check out Cyclingnews' full coverage of eight days of racing at the Cape Epic.

  • Cape Epic favorites reflect on this year's race

    World champions at the 2013 Cape Epic. Back row: Roel Paulissen (2008
    Article published:
    March 25, 2013, 21:14
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    10 world champions attend 10th anniversary edition

    Each year, the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race draws many of mountain biking's top current and former racers. The 2013 edition of the race attracted 10 world champions to the start line. They took a time out during the busy week to pose for a group shot.

    World champions or not, several of the pre-race favorites shared their thoughts upon finishing the eighth and final day of competition on Sunday in Lourensford, South Africa.

    Multivan Merida Team

    Multivan Merida's Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts ended the race on a high note by winning the final stage on Sunday.

    "We have finished in the best possible way. A victory in the last stage is a great reward for the work we have done these days," said Hermida. "Our legs have worked great and the teamwork has been perfect."

    Multivan Merida made the selection into the front group on the last day, and finally it was just down to them and the South African Scott team of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes.

    "When I saw that we could not open a gap, I told Rudi that we would go for the sprint. I knew the last meters of the stage ,and I managed to be first in the last corner; Rudi just had to be second or third. It was great. The Cape Epic is a very special race and we feel proud of today's victory and of wearing the leader's jersey in the second stage."

    The Multivan-Merida team finished fourth overall and claimed two stage wins.

    Scott Swisspower Team

    Cross country world champion Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel had an unfortunate start to the Cape Epic, but they came on strong toward the end, finishing on the podium in stages 5 and 7.

    Their ambitions going into the race were high, but a high speed crash by Vogel during the prologue resulted in a knee injury that would cause much suffering in subsequent stages.

    "I fell on my back and bruised my knee. Then, I had some fluid building up in my leg," said Vogel. "I was in pain all day long, suffering big time just to hold Nino's wheel. If it was for me only, I probably would have dropped out. But I did not want my partner let down."

    Schurter proved he is already in good form and sometimes had the extra time and energy to wheelie in front of the race photographers.

    The pair finished 13th overall.

    "Too bad we started out with Florian's crash," said Schurter. "I'm sure we were in better shape than our overall result shows. It's a team event and both of the riders need to be at the top to compete for the overall. But the two podium places at the end were at least a good finish of a tough week."

    Scott-Swisspower team manager Thomas Frischknecht raced as part of Schurter and Vogel's back-up team and finished fifth overall in the masters category.

    "Not bad for to old guys," said Frischknecht in a post-race team press release.

    Scott Factory Racing Team

    Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys of the Scott Factory Racing team won the overall Best Africans classification. The pair raced for a stage win on the final day and were narrowly outsprinted by Hermida and van Houts.

    "We never really pushed to our limits at all during the race and we both felt good at the start today, so we decided to give the stage win a go," said Beukes. "Having live TV coverage definitely motivated us because we knew it was a good way to reward our sponsors and supporters."

    Buys was first into the final left-hand turn and over the finish line, but Beukes was unable to come around the Merida riders to secure the stage win. The stage result is measured by the second team member's position over the finish line, which made Hermida and Van Houts the winners.

    Buys and Beukes finished race in sixth overall. Their award as the best African team came along with a new trophy, the Burry Stander Memorial Trophy, which was presented to them by Stander's wife, Cherise Stander.

    "This result has been a huge lift for both Matthys and me. We have learned a lot during this race about the importance of patience and planning. It's undoubtedly been a career highlight for both of us," said Buys.

    Superior-Brentjens Team

    Bart Brentjens, manager of the Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team, raced with South African Robert Sim. The duo won the prologue and the final stage and ended up second overall in the masters category.

    "The Cape Epic is the Tour de France of mountain biking," said Brentjens, who won last year.

    "It's a perfectly organized race through beautiful South African scenery with the top riders in the sport of mountain biking. It is a great race to do, for pro athletes and mountain bike enthusiasts. Everybody helps each other out struggling with the same challenge. Also the two-person team combination makes this race special. I can't wait to come back next year."

  • British mountain bike championships coming to Selkirk

    The start of one of the Selkirk Merida MTB events.
    Article published:
    March 26, 2013, 16:52
    By:
    Cycling News

    Marathon nationals scheduled for early June

    The 2013 British Marathon Mountain Bike Championships will be staged in the Scottish Borders, as part of the Selkirk MTB Marathon, on Saturday, June 8. The race will feature a single lap, 80km course.

    Formerly known as "The Merida" and the "CRC", the Selkirk MTB Marathon is under new management and is being staged by Selkirk-based Durty Events, who are responsible for triathlon and duathlon events throughout Scotland including the Durty Triathlon, Craggy Island Triathlon and the famous Celtman! Extreme Triathlon.

    "We are delighted to be returning to Selkirk for the 2013 marathon championships. The Scottish Borders have some excellent trails, and it's one of the few areas in Britain that can provide a course over a single loop," read a statement from British Cycling. "We had other applications which were considered but the Selkirk bid was considered to offer the best combination of date, proven course and established event infrastructure."

    "We're really chuffed to have been asked to organise the British Championships alongside the popular Selkirk Mountain Bike Marathon," said Paul McGreal of Durty Events. "We're expecting the very best riders in the UK to come and test themselves on the very best single-lap course in the country. We believe we have the best trails the Scottish Borders has to offer and the most popular and challenging course in the UK which is why Selkirk has been voted 'Best MTB Marathon' several times. We aim to provide an achievable challenge for riders of every ability in fantastic surroundings with a lot of fun thrown in as well."

    The British marathon Championships are open to male and female riders (19 or older) who are British citizens and hold a full BC or UCI recognised racing licence; with coveted red, white and blue jerseys up for grabs. There are also integrated championship categories for veteran men and women.

    For those non-license holders who are taking part in The Selkirk MTB Marathon, there are three fully marked courses with distances of 25km, 50km and 80km - something for families, novices, intermediates, enthusiasts and racing snakes alike.

    All the courses have a mix of natural and hand-made singletrack, doubletrack forest roads and ancient drove roads. Riders will visit the valleys of the Rivers Tweed, Yarrow and Ettrick. They can expect lung and thigh busting climbs that are rewarded with epic grin-inducing descents.

    Renowned trail builder and course designer, Pete Laing (7Stanes and Golspie), is scouting new sections to freshen up the marathon courses and will include a few special timed "enduro" sections to add a little more spice to the events.

    For more information, visit www.selkirkmtbmarathon.com.

  • Trans-Sylvania Epic draws strong women's field

    You never know who or what you might run into in the woods of Trans-Sylvania 4.
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 13:54
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Stage race adds new U25 classification and neutral support

    The 2013 edition of the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race is drawing a strong women's field, including two former winners, Amanda Carey (Stan's No Tubes) and Cheryl Sornson (Team CF).

    "It looks like the women's field will be as good as it's ever been, if not even better," said Trans-Sylvania Epic co-promoter Mike Kuhn to Cyclingnews.

    Several other fast women will join Carey and Sornson in Pennsylvania from May 26 to June 1. Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon) and Sarah Kaufmann, State College local Vicki Barclay and Sue Haywood (all Stan's No Tubes) are also among the podium favorites.

    Based on sheer numbers, the Stan's No Tubes team will be a force to be reckoned with.

    "The NoTubes women could race as a team although that's not always the easiest thing to do in a mountain bike stage race," said Kuhn.

    The attendance of Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Cannondale) is still in question since she broke her leg while racing at the Mellow Johnny's Classic in early March. She had been considering coming, but may not be recovered in time to compete in a week-long stage race.

    The Trans-Sylvania Epic is also doing a few unique things for the 2013 edition of the race. First is an under 25 classification, in which the best U25 riders across all categories (solo, duo, etc.) are recognized and awarded. The top male and female U25 riders will go home with a free solo entry to the next year's event.

    "I think it's a good way to offer a development category. It's a way to get some up and coming racers some significant exposure for themselves and their sponsors," said Kuhn.

    In addition, the Trans-Sylvania Epic will have neutral support bikes at check points throughout the race.

    "We definitely have people each year who can't finish because of mechanicals, but now we can help these folks out," said Kuhn. "It makes privateering a little easier."

    Both the U25 classification and the neutral support bikes are being made possible by the race's new partnership with BMC.

    The Trans-Sylvania Epic will continue to include an enduro competition. One day's stage will be dedicated to the enduro format, with approximately five time segments. Also, there will be one additional timed section for each of the other stages and the times across all enduro segments will be combined to calculate the enduro classification.

  • Junior world champ Cooper prepares for European campaign

    Anton Cooper (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 28, 2013, 03:22
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    New Zealander moves into U23 ranks

    Anton Cooper is used to winning. As a junior, he had a perfect record of entering every World Cup he entered. After capping off a stellar young career with a 2012 cross country junior world title, the New Zealander joined Cannondale Factory Racing and just moved up to the U23 ranks, where he will face tougher competition.

    "I think it's going to be a step up, and I'll have to be mentally prepared to lose a few races of course," Cooper told Cyclingnews. "It's not going to be my first races that I'll win. I have to be prepared to chase again. It'll be a different style of riding, and I look forward to it."

    Coming from New Zealand, Cooper didn't race a full World Cup circuit as a junior rider. He travelled to Europe and North America for select events, as his school schedule permitted. He spent quite a lot of time in those World Cups off the front alone, well above the level of the rest of his fellow junior competition.

    "I won every World Cup that I entered across my U19 years - both in 2011 and 2012," said Cooper. 2012 was a pretty big year. I'd grown a lot since 2011, with my performance and what I'd learned. It was a big step up from the world championships in 2011. This last year was a year of putting together all that I'd learned. Everything came together well, and I had a perfect season, I couldn't ask for more."

    It can be difficult to stay to focused during so much time off the front, but Cooper and his coaches came up with a way to keep him on track.

    "Last year, I compared my times to the U23s and elites. It was something to do and it kept me motivated," he said.

    When asked how his times stacked up against his elders, he said, "I tended to sit around third in the U23 ranks and 10th-15th in elite men, but then again the U23s do an extra lap. I'll prepare for that - I think I can do another lap at that pace, but the truth is, you never really know until you get out there and do the race."

    "You don't know how fast you are until you have to chase someone. Up until then, you're limited if you're off the front."

    A look ahead

    Cooper will focus on a full World Cup season in 2013, racing among his fellow U23s. To facilitate that, the New Zealander will spend a portion of the season living in Europe with his Cannondale Factory Racing teammate and fellow first-year U23 rider Keegan Swenson of the United States.

    "It's good to have someone your own age and we can look out for each other as well," he said.

    "I'll be based in Germany when I'm in Europe, but I'll travel a lot so the amount of time I spend there will be minimal. However, it will be good to have a base away from home. I don't speak German, but luckily everyone on the team does and so do most Europeans. It's a bit cheap to try to get away with that, but it'll be nice to learn some German, I bet I'll pick up a bit pretty quickly."

    The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup does not begin until mid-May, but Cooper will have plenty to keep him occupied.

    "Between now and the first World Cup, it's still pretty full on. I head home after the team camp, and I've got a couple of big races over there and then the Oceanias [Continental Championships] in late March. Then I'm back over to Europe in early April."

    When at home, Cooper races with the elites, although increasingly, he is limiting his racing back home so as not to burn himself out - something that can happen if a rider goes directly back and forth between the opposite racing seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres.

    "It's helpful to race with the elites in New Zealand, but to be honest, our U23s are probably stronger," said Cooper.

  • German MTB-Bundesliga opens season in Spitz's hometown

    The start of the elite men's race at the 2012 German national championships in Bad Säckingen
    Article published:
    March 28, 2013, 15:00
    By:
    Cycling News

    European favorites line up for cross country opener this weekend

    Bad Säckingen is hosting the Gold Trophy, the opening round of the 2013 International MTB-Bundesliga this coming Easter weekend on March 31 to April 1. In addition to drawing some of Europe's top elite cross country mountain bike stars, the southwest German town will also be hosting a round of the brand new new U23 and juniors European Cup.

    Two-time world champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Erogon) is among the women attending the German national series opener. She and former marathon world champion Esther Süss (Wheeler-iXS) will take on former world champ and local Sabine Spitz (Haibike), racing in the town where she was born.

    Matthias Flückiger (Stöckli) is among the men's favorites, and he'll be racing riders like Swiss rival Giger (Giant Pro XC).

    Bad Säckingen hosted the German national championships in 2012. For that event, a new course was constructed, and after receiving rave reviews from the 1,000 racers participating in its first test, it will be used again this weekend.

    The Gold Trophy's name was inspired by Bejing Olympic Gold medallist Spitz.

    The new European Cup for U23s and juniors also includes the Sunshine race in Nals, Italy, the Ötztal Mountainbike Festival in Haiming and the Graz Bike-Opening, both in Austria.

    Due to the Easter holidays, the organisation committee will not be running the eliminator race that is usually part of the International MTB-Bundesliga series, but it hopes to run one in future years.

    The U23 and junior racers will compete on Sunday while the elite racers will compete on Monday.

    For more information, visit www.goldtophy-sabinespitz.de.

  • Hanlen and Cooper lead New Zealand at Oceanias

    Anton Cooper (New Zealand) in action.
    Article published:
    March 28, 2013, 21:56
    By:
    Cycling News

    Tasmania hosts continental championships

    New Zealand will be well represented at this weekend's Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Australia where Karen Hanlen will take up a battle of the Olympians in Tasmania. The defending Oceania champion will clash with leading Australian rider Rebecca Henderson in the cross country race on Saturday. They last raced each other in London where both made their Olympic debuts.

    Hanlen, who won the title impressively in Rotorua last year, will be the clear favourite with Henderson and former national and Oceania champion Rowena Fry likely to be the major Australian opposition.

    Another New Zealander, Samara Sheppard, who will ride for the new Toko Print UCI trade team in Europe this year, is moving up to the elite division for the first time after winning a World Cup round in the under 23 class last year.

    Whakatane's Carl Jones is the sole Kiwi hope in the elite men's division, with the 2011 national champion building up in New Zealand this year before mounting his long term challenge for a place at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

    He was second in the Mountain Bike Cup series over the summer and will take on Olympian Daniel McConnell and the current champion, the experienced Chris Jongewaard who will lead the Australian charge.

    Junior world champion Anton Cooper is back from his camp with the new Cannondale Racing Team to compete in Tasmania, and while riding in the under 23 division, he will likely be the marker for the elite men's field.

    New Zealand's Dirk Peters, who pushed Cooper to the line at the national championships, will also look for a strong finish in the under 23 division.

    The cross country races will be on Saturday at a new course at Tolosa Park, with a big 5km lap. The downhill will be at Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park, which is close to Hobart.

    New Zealand team for 2013 Oceania Mountain Bike Championships

    Cross country
    Elite women: Karen Hanlen, Samara Sheppard
    Elite men: Carl Jones
    Under 23 men: Dirk Peters, Brad Hudson, Anton Cooper, Sam Shaw, Josh Parkin
    Under 19 men: Ben Oliver, Craig Oliver, Brett Stokman, Samuel Gaze
    Under 19 women: Samantha Hope, Amber Johnston
    Under 17 men: Nathan Johnston
    Under 17 women: Shannon Hope
    Under 15 men: Eden Cruise.

    Downhill
    Elite men: Tom Matthews
    Under 19 men: Michael Kammlein-Cutler, Thomas Lockwood.

    Eliminator
    Men: Alex Young
    Women: Harriet Beaven