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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, March 3, 2011

Date published:
March 03, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Cape Epic favorites to race MTN Sabie Marathon

    Karl Platt races downhill
    Article published:
    February 25, 2011, 19:01 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Platt and Knox among top picks for next South African marathon

    A dress rehearsal for the Cape Epic is what the MTN Sabie marathon might just boil down to on Saturday, February 26. Germany's Karl Platt (Team Bulls), who has perfected winning the Epic into a fine art has, indicated that he will race the next marathon in the South African series.

    Platt's duel with Max Knox and Thomas Zahnd (DCM), who are going to ride the Epic as a team, and Mannie Heymans (Garmin-adidas) and Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Qhubeka), who are also on good form will ensure an exciting race.

    Knox, Niyonshuti and Heymans proved that at the moment they are the riders in top form when it comes to racing marathons with the MTN Clarens and MTN Barberton case in point. Knox won the MTN Barberton marathon, Niyonshuti was the winner at the MTN Clarens while Heymans finished third in Barberton and second in Clarens.

    The big question is whether Heymans can better his position on Saturday. Judging by his past performances in Sabie, he is certainly a favourite. In his years of racing as an elite, Heymans has always managed a top-10 finish in Sabie. He has, in fact won the Sabie marathon an astonishing record of seven times.

    So Mr. Sabie is a title that Mannie Heymans (Garmin adidas) has good reason to want to claim for himself. Heymans has done enough over the past 10 years to become one of the town's most popular sporting heroes. He won the very popular Sabie Marathon seven times, finished second twice and came third once. Last year he finished 10th.

    When asked about Sabie, Heymans openly admits that it is "home from home" for him.

    When Heymans arrived in Sabie in 1999 to take part in the race for the first time, he was still relatively unknown. "Sabie was the first important victory of my cycling career in South Africa. I think that is why the Sabie race will always be so special to me."

    Heymans and Platt won the inaugural Epic in 2004. The German has also won the Epic in 2007, 2009 and 2010 with Stefan Sahm...

  • Israel hosting three UCI-sanctioned races starting Friday

    Shlomi Haimi leads the pack at the start of the Yokne'am race in Israel
    Article published:
    March 01, 2011, 18:30 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike racers expected from nine nations

    A series of three UCI-sanctioned races in Israel is drawing racers from at least nine countries beginning later this week.

    The racing will begin this Friday, March 4 with the Yokne'am category two race in Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek organized by City Cycling Club and the Megido Regional Council. On Saturday, March 5 the City of Haifa will host a category one race organized by the Israel Cycling Federation on last year's European Mountain Bike Continental Championship course, slightly modified in accordance with new UCI regulations. The concluding race, also a category two, will take place on March 12 in the Segev forest of the Western Galilee Mountains and will be organized by TeaMisgav and the Misgav regional council.

    Riders are coming from Poland, Hungary, Russia, Kazakhstan, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain, and of course, Israel. Among them will be Hungarian Barbara Benko from the Euro-One Team, ranked 23rd in the world, Marek Galinski from the Polish team JBG-2, ranked 51st, and three other riders ranked in the top 100.

    Elite women's national champion Noga Korem (TeaMisgav), ranked 78th in the world, will represent Israel along with Shlomi Haimi, who will race with the elite men.

  • US Pro Gravity Tour (US Pro GRT) announced for 2011

    Bryn Atkinson downhills at the Plattekille round of the US Pro GRT.
    Article published:
    March 01, 2011, 20:26 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Five stops for the national series

    In its third year, the USA Cycling Pro Gravity Tour (Pro GRT) boasts five races and will continue to provide a consistent stage of international-caliber events for elite, American gravity racers.

    The downhill-only national series will visit five states between April and June. For the third year in a row, the series will open with the NW Cup in Port Angeles, Washington on April 9-10.

    In the month of May, the series will move to the east coast for a pair of races: the Highland Bike Park event in Northfield, New Hampshire on May 14-15, and the Plattekill Gravity Open at the Plattekill Bike Park in Roxbury, New York on May 21-22.

    In June, the Pro GRT will make its penultimate stop in California for the Northstar-at-Tahoe event in Truckee on June 18-19. The fifth and final event on the tour will be the Wildflower Rush in Crested Butte, Colorado on June 25-26.

    The top finishers at each of the five stops will earn series points. At the end of the season, the male and female with the most points will be named overall Pro GRT champions and will be recognized as the best gravity athletes on US soil.

    In addition to fighting for series points and a world championships invitation, Pro GRT competitors will have two chances to earn international ranking points as two of the six races are inscripted on the UCI calendar. The Plattekill Gravity Open is a UCI category three event while the Northstar-at-Tahoe race is a UCI category two event.

    The US Pro GRT is the final of the three US national series. The cross country and endurance series have already been announced.

    For more information on the series, visit www.progrt.com.

    2011 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Gravity Tour (US Pro GRT)
    April 9-10: Northwest Cup, Port Angeles, Washington
    May 14-15:...

  • Jongewaard begins long journey to London Olympics

    Chris Jongewaard on his way to winning the 2011 Australian Cross Country National Championship.
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 0:04 GMT
    By:
    Les Clarke

    Australian National Champ admits: "There's a long way to go"

    Chris Jongewaard took another step in his return to the highest level of mountain biking last weekend with victory in the cross country and short track events at the Australian MTB National Championships but admits there's a long way to go before he's ready to tackle next year's London Olympic Games.

    Jongewaard has been in sensational form recently on both the road and the dirt and confirmed this with a dominant display to overcome adversity in the race and in his personal life since returning from a jail term last year.

    The 31-year-old South Australian was sentenced to nine months in jail over a hit-run incident involving former Australian representative rider Matthew Rex in 2007, which left the latter with serious injuries and Jongewaard facing an extensive break on the sidelines of the sport.

    And Jongewaard was quick to praise those who had helped him through the regrettable period in his life following his fifth national title last Friday. "For me, I guess I owe it to a lot of people who got me through the tough times and I owe this race to them," he said. "It's been a pretty rocky road but I've made my return and I'm enjoying the sport, so hopefully it's not too late to salvage something.

    "Having a year off in the prime of my career is never the really the best thing for any athlete - I guess it's just how you deal with the situation, just trying to make a positive return."

    The race was run in tough conditions, with heat and a technical course boasting mainly singletrack making life difficult for all but the strongest of riders; Jongewaard demolished the competition despite facing some extra obstacles on the day.

    "It was pretty hot out there so it was just a matter of hanging in there," he explained. "My rear tyre went flat and I had problems at the start; I just tried to block it out.

    "It was rough out there and I must have just hit a rock and came in [to the pits] with a flat tyre. I was probably a...

  • 24 and 12 Hours of Exposure to host European Solo Championships

    Race leaders at the 24 Hours of Exposure.
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 15:23 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    United Kingdom mountain bike event also awarding national titles

    The village of Newcastleton on the Scottish Border hosted the first 24 Hours of Exposure, the United Kingdom's 24-Hour Solo Mountain Bike Championships in 2010. This year, the race - set for May 7 - is adding a 12-hour version, and both the 12 and 24-hour events will double as the European 12 and 24-hour Solo Mountain Bike Championships.

    Racers will compete on a 16km, all-weather course using the Newcastleton 7Stanes trails. As the only European 12 and 24-hour race only for solo competitors, the event will provide light charging stations, neutral mechanical support, bike washing facilities, energy drinks, trackside camping and other amenities particularly helpful for solo endurance racers.

    Four categories will be run: open men, open women, veteran men and veteran women. The winner of each category will receive the European Champion's jersey. The best singlespeeder and rookie will also be awarded jerseys.

    The race is open to all mountain bike riders, including experienced endurance riders and riders taking their first step into endurance racing.

    For more information about the race, visit www.24hoursolo.co.uk.

  • Downhill World Champion Moseley to race Cape Epic stage race

    Anka Martin racing in the Cape Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race. She will partner with Tracy Moseley for the 2011 edition.
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 20:25 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Martin partners with Moseley for a week of mountain bike racing

    Downhill World Champion Tracy Moseley has been known to mix it up in cross country races, but this spring she will be going long by participating in the Cape Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race in South Africa from Marcy 27 to April 3. The race should help her get plenty of base fitness just weeks before the first World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Moseley will partner with Anka Martin, an established Cape Epic favourite who completed the event three times before.

    Martin, who is from South Africa, believes that together with Moseley they make a great team. "We both love to ride our bikes and enjoy going downhill pretty fast. We're great friends and we can laugh and make fun of ourselves," said Martin. "We're not taking ourselves too seriously, and we're doing it for a great cause. As long as we have fun bombing down the hills and passing a few guys, we'll be happy."

    "I think having been an athlete for so long with my major goal being to win the World Champs, when it finally happened I had this thought of 'now what ?!' I didn't have a new goal," said Moseley in her blog for British Cycling. "So within a few hours of winning I agreed to take part in the Cape Epic... For me..., it will be an all new experience consisting of eight days, 707km off road in the heat of the South African summer; I think it will be a worthy challenge!"

    Asked what brings Martin back to the Cape Epic each year, she said, "I keep asking myself that same question, but this year, however, we are riding the Cape Epic for World Bicycle Relief in order to raise money so we can donate bikes to 10 schools in Zambia. I missed last year's event as I participated three years in a row prior to that and needed a break, and I was still paying off the costs incurred from the previous events."

    Due to the fact that the two ladies live on different continents, they are not able to train together. "We get to ride and race downhill and compete in endurance races...

  • Multivan Merida sets ambitious goals for the season

    The Multivan Merida Mountain Bike Team
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 22:52 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Past and former world champions Hermida, Näf, Dahle Flesjå lead the team

    The Multivan Merida Biking Team has just begun the new 2011 mountain bike racing season in Spain and will continue with more racing this weekend in Italy. With World Champion José Antonio Hermida, European champion Ralph Näf and former World Champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå as the most successful mountain bike racer of all times, the team is set to defend its status as the strongest in mountain bike racing.

    "Taking the lead both in the World Cup's overall standings and in the world ranking is essential to us," said team manager Andreas Rottler as he laid out the goals for his squad just ahead of the team's presentation on the island of Mallorca last month.

    Spaniard Hermida will start the season with the goal of doing everything he can to defend his title in September and to finish on World Cup podiums regularly. Some of his stiffest competition might come from within his own team as Swiss rider Ralph Näf has also set his sights on the same major races with the extra motivation of having the Worlds in his home country. Unlike Hermida, Näf wants to shine in long-distance races, too, with the goal of reclaiming the marathon world championship title that he won in 2006.

    Dahle Flesjå also has ambitions for another world championship title. All signs are set for her to get back to her own best this season. She is also aiming for a podium spot at the cross country Worlds.

    German Multivan-Merida rider Jochen Käss is full of self-confidence for the season ahead. Originally a specialist for marathon races, he has repeatedly left his mark in cross country races recently and now wants to compete for one of the few starting spots that Germany is entitled to for London's Olympic games 2012. Käss will still continue competing in marathon races even though the Multivan Merida Biking Team has two riders in its line-up who are designated specialists for this kind of races: Andreas Kugler and Hannes Genze...

  • Epic Endurance Cycling Team gets off to fast start

    Bryan Alders races for the Epic Endurance Cycling Team
    Article published:
    March 03, 2011, 1:14 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike team takes a business-savvy approach

    The newly formed Epic Endurance Cycling Team got off to a fast start in 2011 with a podium appearance in Tucson, Arizona, at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo late last month.

    Based in Boulder, Colorado, the team was the brainchild of Owner and Director Bill Wheeler, who also races. With the help of three friends and current teammates - Anthony Thornton, Brandon Newcomer and Les Handy - Epic Endurance Cycling was established using a different model than most cycling teams.

    "We felt the current business model [of cycling teams] was not working and wanted to make sure we were setting a new standard," Wheeler said. "Teams continue to disappear at an alarming rate due to company sponsors receiving little to no return on their investment. The sponsors must make sure now more than ever that they are using their advertising and marketing dollars wisely."

    Epic Endurance Cycling is made up primarily of business professionals and entrepreneurs, who also happen to be talented racers and overall lovers of mountain biking. Epic's two separate teams - a Professional Team for professional riders and an Elite Team for elite riders - combine to focus their efforts on promoting sponsors and giving back to the cycling community.

    "I run a multi-million dollar operation [aside from the team] and know what I expect from the people I partner with in my business ... so I had an understanding of the type of individuals I was seeking for the team," said Wheeler. "Each racer was hand-selected based on this criteria of understanding what our sponsor partners need as well as that racer's ability to market our partners in a professional, positive fashion."

    The team focuses the bulk of its marketing energy in the social media sphere, using Facebook and Twitter as major platforms for sponsor promotion. "Social...