Dan Atherton (GT Factory Racing) is under the spotlight in the third video of our exclusive four-part series filmed at home with the most famous siblings in mountain biking, the Athertons.
This season Dan will be racing gravity enduros - a combination of four cross and downhill - as well as some longer events like the Trans Provence and Italian super enduros. As he says, for someone who grew up on a diet of dirt jumps and skate parks, these are likely to be tough to adapt to.
The 15th edition of the Craft Bike TransAlp is drawing several international top teams including Team Bulls, Topeak Ergon Racing, Multivan Merida and Stoeckli Pro Team. Reigning champions Urs Huber and Konny Looser will return to defend their title at the mountain bike stage race, which will start on July 14 and run through July 21.
In 2011, the two Swiss mountain bike pros surprised all by winning not only four out of eight stages at their first shared TransAlp participation but also the whole race with a lead of some nine minutes after 670 kilometers and more than 21,000 meters in elevation gain.
"We want to repeat the win," said 26-year-old marathon specialist Huber, who is the current Swiss marathon champion.
"That's the goal for sure. Everything else would be a disappointing result," said European U23 marathon champion Looser, 23.
They realize it will be difficult to meet those expectations.
"There were many riders who didn't expect that I - being pretty young - could persevere with the high pace over the whole distance and eight days," said Looser. "I guess we proved them wrong. But due to this, no one will allow us to pull away this time."
To be the number one again will require proper training. Although both note that they are full on target, Huber lost some vital training time at the end of April and the beginning of May due to a flu.
"It's been important that I had enough time to recover, which I actually did."
Looser admits that he is a little bit out of shape right now. "I'm still waiting for my peak form. Although it's getting better and better, it seems that I can't put it all together in the races."
Still, both have enough time to gain the necessary stamina...
The USA Cycling Pro Gravity Tour (Pro GRT) continued with its third race over the weekend at the Plattekill round of the Eastern States Cup. Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) and Lauren Daney (DRD Intense) descended to victory in Roxbury, New York on Sunday to grow their leads in the Pro GRT overall.
After his victory, Gwin continues to lead the US Pro GRT, head of his teammate Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) and Phillip Kmetz (Voncooper). With his fourth-place finish at Plattekill, Gavin Vaughn (Von Cooper) moved into the top five just behind Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing), who currently holds a tie with Kmetz for third.
Lauren Daney (DRD Intense) extended her US Pro GRT lead to 63 points while Joanna Petterson (Nema Maxxis) holds a slight lead for second over former four cross world champion Jill Kintner (Team Norco International), who was racing abroad and did not contest the Plattekill round.
A silver medallist in the event in Beijing four years, Péraud began to turn his attention to the road in 2009 after he won the French national time trial championship and earned himself a contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto for the following season. He then proceeded to make a fine Tour de France debut in the colours of Ag2r-La Mondiale in 2011, finishing 9th overall in Paris.
With the men’s cross country race scheduled for August 12, the final day of the London Olympics, Péraud is confident that he has ample time to make the transition from road to trail. The Tour de France concludes on July 22, fully three weeks before his Olympic event.
“There will be three weeks and a round of the World Cup between the end of the Tour de France and the Olympic race. That’s enough for me to get my bearings again,” Péraud said, according to Eurosport.fr.
Péraud will thus line up at the World Cup at Val d’Isère on July 29. He finished 7th in the recent round at La Bresse after placing 17th the previous week in Nove Mesto. He has since returned to road racing at the GP de Plumelec and the Boucles de l’Aulne, as he continues his build-up to the Tour.
Péraud is joined in the French Olympic team by double gold medallist Julien Absalon and Stéphane Tempier. The women’s mountain bike team is composed of Julie Bresset and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot.
Former world champion hopes to regain top form before Olympics
Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) has decided not to attend the European Cross Country Championships taking place next week from June 7-10 in Moscow, Russia.
The Spaniard has won the elite European cross country title three times. Although he's always been motivated to do the European championships, he is sitting out this year's race.
"Sunday June the 10th was a date I had marked in my calendar. This season I'm having some problems that will not let me perform at my level," said Hermida. "There are no bad results, but I'm not feeling like I should."
The 2010 world champion is hoping to regain his top form in time for the 2012 Olympic Games in London and as such is cancelling his plans to race the European championships so he can take a break.
"This will be my fourth Olympics and the race is my main goal of the year. That is why I want to get there as fresh as possible. I've focused on that date for months and the abnormal performance of the start of the season has led me to reschedule the next few weeks.
"After deep discussion with my coach and my confidence doctors, we decided that this break until the next World Cup will be a way to start again, albeit from an already high level. This reset will be both physically and mentally positive. I am sure my colleagues in the Spanish team will do a good job in Moscow," said Hermida.
The European marathon championship will be conducted in conjunction with the Malevil Cup on Sunday, June 17 in the Czech Republic. Among the favorites already registered are 2010 marathon world champion Alban Lakata (Austria), Thomas Dietsch (France), Urs Huber (Switzerland), Karl Platt (Germany) and Nicolas Vermuelen (Belgium). Multiple-time European champion Pia Sundstedt (Finland) will line up with past medallist Elena Giacomuzzi (Italy), Sally Bigham (Great Britain) and Magdalena Sedlecka (Poland) in the women's race.
The Czech Republic's best chances at a medal are Jirí Novák, who from Hrádek nad Nisou will be practically racing in his home territory, and ex-Czech champion Jan Jobánek. Ex-road professional Jan Hruška would surely also like to use the race as a successful finale of his cycling career.
The Malevil Cup race will also include a sprint event, kids' races and amateur races as well as a trials competition.
The marathon courses will be 100km (men) and 95km (women) and there are also shorter hobby options of 65km (men) and 40km (women) available.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a mountain bike stage race, will be held again across Costa Rica from November 1-3. For its 20th edition, organizers are shortening the race by one day.
"We are going back to our roots," said Roman Urbina, the race's founder and promoter. "It will be a great cycling adventure and probably an easier race since it will be shorter."
Instead of the four-day format used in most recent years, the race will run over three days, as it was during its first edition.
New for 2012 will be an optional rafting section. "On part of day 3, we will have a non-competitive rafting section on one of the greatest rivers (the Pacuare) in the heart of the tropical jungle," said Urbina. "Once we are done with the rafting we will continue the race. This special adventure will let competitors have a bit of a break from the hard core racing. We expect a high level of competition on all levels.
"There will also be a change in day one it will be a bit shorter but a bit tougher. Day two, the volcano day, will remain the same as last year."
Adriana Rojas and Todd Wells won the 2011 edition of the race.