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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, November 25, 2010

Date published:
November 25, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Paulissen gets two-year suspension

    Roel Paulissen (Belgium)
    Article published:
    November 22, 2010, 14:09 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian mountain biker ended pro career (updated)

    The Belgian cycling federation issued a two-year ban for Roel Paulissen on Monday. The mountain biker tested positive for a female hormone, clomiphene, twice this summer.

    Although he denied having used the hormone, which is normally used to stimulate female ovulation, but can also increase testosterone levels in males, he has since decided to hang up his bike and did not attend the federation's final hearing on November 22.

    Paulissen blamed the positive test result on a tainted supplement, and his lawyer argued that the amount of the hormone found in his samples was not performance-enhancing. Still, he received the maximum sentence as well as a fine of 7,500 euros. Two weeks ago, the federal prosecutor had demanded a fine of 87,500 euros.

    "I've always held hope for a positive outcome," said Paulissen after receiving the ban. "Given the facts and arguments during the course of the procedure, my faith in a favorable decision had only increased. This is a great disappointment to me. Tomorrow, I will carefully examine the statement together with the people who help me, but this is certainly very disappointing. "

    Paulissen also questioned the judicial process. "It's very frustrating when you determine that nothing was done with the information supplied. It had a number of arguments (specifics about the detected substance, statements of both the expert Drs. Douwe de Boer and Jan Mathieu and no prior history of doping), but they were only reflected in the reduction of the fine and not in determining the duration of the suspension."

    He has not yet decided whether he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

    Paulissen, 34, won two marathon world championship titles, 2008 in Villabassa and 2009 in Graz, as well as several rounds of both the cross country and marathon World Cups. 

  • Turner one of top Americans at La Ruta

    Thomas Turner took a tumble on stage 4
    Article published:
    November 23, 2010, 0:28 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Lots of suffering for Jamis rider in Costa Rica

    While much of the spotlight was on Americans Alex Grant and Sam Schultz at La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race this past week in Costa Rica, another American, Thomas Tuner, was putting in strong performances each day.

    Turner, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, spent more than half the final stage with the lead group before he fell off the pace and finished 11th. He also ended up 11th overall on the general classification, as the third American finisher in the race.

    On the final day, he was looking a bit worse for wear with bloody cuts to his face and a bandage near his eye. "I went down on a little off camber, greasy, rock section. I overlapped a guy's wheel and he got a little squirrelly. When I hit, my glasses cut into my face, but I got cleaned up and bandaged at the next feed zone."

    Turner, who races mostly in the southeastern part of the US at cross country races and some endurance events, is not well known in the domestic mountain bike scene but has been racing since he was about 15 years old.

    He's won the Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell and the South Eastern Regional Championship (SERC) mountain bike series. Turner's also been on the top of the podium for the first seven Georgia cyclo-cross races this fall.

    The 28-year-old was racing his second La Ruta; his first was in 2008. "It took me a year to forget how terrible this race was, and I got sucked back into it. A few of my friends helped sponsor my trip, and I wore their kits - a different one each day." Thomas was riding for his primary sponsor Jamis as well as Montague Homes, Outspokin' bike shop and Van Michael's hair salon.

    Turner commented on the race's difficulty. "There's no section out here that I ride and think, 'I wish I could do that again,'" he said. Thinking of his home trails, he said, "It's a lot more fun than this kind of stuff, which is just suffering."

    While some riders complained of difficulties due to the heat...

  • Parra turns heads in Costa Rica

    Women's leader Angela Parra has won both stages so far
    Article published:
    November 23, 2010, 18:43 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Colombian woman celebrates first La Ruta victory

    Angela Parra rode the perfect race at La Ruta de los Conquistadores, winning every stage and the women's overall. She had raced previously several times in Costa Rica, even winning other races in the Central American nation, but it was only her second La Ruta and her first time winning.

    Parra hails from Bogota, Colombia, and is the national cross country champion. At home she races cross country for Giant Maxxis, but in Costa Rica this past week, she was racing endurance for Economy Blue.

    She has won the Central American Games and has finished fourth at the Pan American championships.

    "What's next is I will rest and then I will begin preparing for the next Pan Am games, which will be held in Colombia," she said.

    The 28-year-old has been racing her mountain bike for three years. "It was an accident that I got started racing. I had a friend and I came along to do an adventure race." From there, it wasn't a big step to mountain bike racing.

    Parra's win was not without controversy. She was warned twice by the lead moto during stage one for accepting outside assistance. She was not disqualified, but her husband, Luis Mejia, was ejected from the men's race for the same infraction.

  • Sonntag jubilant after first stage race overall victory

    Ben Sonntag refuels during a tough stage 3
    Article published:
    November 23, 2010, 21:10 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Former winter triathlon world champ finds his cycling legs

    Victory at La Ruta de los Conquistadores might take a little while to sink in for 30-year-old Ben Sonntag of the Cannondale Factory Team.

    "I won La Ruta and that is absolutely crazy," said the mountain biker. "It feels unreal to me, and I haven't realized what this victory means yet." Maybe that's because it wasn't just his first La Ruta win, but his very first mountain bike stage race win.

    "I think I picked a good one to win," he said.

    Sonntag, a German who lives in Durango, Colorado, added his name to those of other prestigious foreigners who have won including Leonardo Paez and Thomas Frischknecht. The race is notoriously difficult for non-Costa Ricans to win.

    "Now I can say I had a great season. I had been having a mediocre year, especially, the middle part of the summer when I wasn't going very well. Whenever I thought I was in shape, something came up. Maybe that's why I came here and did so well? I was fresher."

    Sonntag assumed the overall lead with a win in the first stage. He managed to defend it until the end, giving up some time the next two days, but not too much. He felt worst on the third day, but thanks to help from his ever-present teammate Alex Grant, he minimized the loss of time to favorites like Costa Rican Federico Ramirez.

    After every stage, no matter how tough, Sonntag was always smiling, his sunny disposition shining through and clearly enjoying himself in the mud and rain.

    "Team tactics played a big role this week," said Sonntag. "Alex and I worked together every single day. We were one, two, and we couldn't ask for more."

    Sonntag is only in his fifth year in the sport. "I guess my legs are finally coming around as a cyclist. It takes a few years." He comes from a cross country skiing background, but said that before he was a dedicated cyclist, he often rode his bike in the summer to train.

    He is a two-time winter triathlon world champion - from 2003 and...

  • Norwegian mountain biker Bratland dies of cancer

    Article published:
    November 23, 2010, 21:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    30-year-old won Lillehammer-Oslo race this summer

    Norwegian mountain biker Martin Bratland died of cancer last weekend at the age of 30.

    Several weeks ago, Bratland underwent two operations to remove a brain tumour. He had his first radiation treatment last Thursday, but after complications, he died on Saturday afternoon.

    Bratland won two Norwegian titles, including that for marathon in 2008. He also won silver and bronze in various disciplines over the years. He had been riding professionally since 2006, first with Team Etto Hoydahl and from 2009 with Team United Bakeries.

    This season he won the Lillehammer-Oslo race and placed second in the Drammen race.

    Cyclingnews extends its condolences to his family and friends.

  • Van Houts named Dutch mountain biker of the year

    Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands) rides toward victory
    Article published:
    November 23, 2010, 23:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Turpijn, Van der Heijden also honored

    The 2010 Dutch mountain bikers of the year were announced at a ceremony on Monday night in the Merida Experience Center in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, with Rudi van Houts winning the 2010 mountain biker of the year title.

    He earned the Dutch cross country national championship in Zoetermeer and was also the highest ranked Dutchman in the UCI's World Cup this season.

    The awards were promoted by the Club van 5, a group with mountain bike interests in mind, and Wielermagazine.

    Laura Turpijn took home the best women's mountain biker of the year prize. She is the current cross country and marathon national champion.

    Michiel van der Heijden received top honours in the junior category. In addition to winning the Dutch championship, the junior world champion also won three junior World Cups.

    Finally, Rick Cuckoo was also recognised for his trials accomplishments after winning medals at this year's world championships in Canada.

  • Trek’s ABP suspension design issued US patent

    Ross Schnell's ABP equipped Trek Remedy.
    Article published:
    November 24, 2010, 20:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Victory for Trek following earlier patent of similar Dave Weagle design

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Trek Bicycle Corporation a patent - number 7,837,213 - for their Active Braking Pivot (ABP) suspension system.

    The move can be considered a major victory for Trek as it follows the issuing of a patent for Dave Weagle's similar Split Pivot design earlier this year.

    "The way it was explained to me, was that the patent office issued the ABP patent over the Weagle [Split Pivot] patent," said Michael Browne, Trek's mountain bike brand manager. "Meaning they had Dave's design in front of them and said, ‘these are different systems that were developed independently of one another and at different times'."

    The issuance of the Trek ABP patent recognizes, in the US government's eyes, that Trek and Weagle developed their similar systems separately, rather than one copying the other. Now that each design is patented, they're legally allowed to co-exist.

    This is a win-win scenario for riders, who'll have more choices of suspension systems with the benefit of concentric rear pivots in 2011 and beyond.

    According to Browne, getting the patent was tricky due to the thoroughness of the patent officer handling their application and the existence of the Weagle patent.

    "We got a very particular person who required us go through quite a bit to provide all of the right evidence," he said. "I do know there were prototypes [that the patent office reviewed]. There were design files and a lot of engineers going back in their design folders to pull out all the original stuff."

    Trek credits suspension engineers James Colegrove, Dylan Howes and Jose Gonzalez for the design. ABP is praised for its ability to effectively separate braking and suspension forces. This separation allows the suspension to remain active while the rear brake is engaged.

    Trek's patent covers a concentric pivot in combination with varied types of rear suspension designs. ABP was first...

  • BMC backs new international mountain bike team

    Mortiz Milatz celebrates winning the elite men's race.
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 19:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Milatz, Gallati, Moos among team's top riders

    Already well known as a sponsor of a ProTour road team, BMC is putting its backing behind a new elite mountain bike team. Beginning in January 2011, the BMC Mountain Bike Team will race cross country and marathon major international events.

    David Chassot and Alex Moos will manage the new six-man team. Moos is a retired road racer, who will continue his career both in racing marathon events and in directing the new Swiss team.

    "It is a gigantic prospect for me to be able to participate in shaping the commitment to mountain biking for BMC. My experience in the professional sport will help the young riders," said Moos, who has raced many off-road events in recent years.

    "Our mountain bikes have been on a world-class level for years now. We now wish to support and refine the product development using feedback from the professional cross country sport and naturally to also demonstrate our expertise," said Mike Hürlimann, CEO of BMC. "The BMC Mountain Bike Team is the tip of the iceberg of our long-term commitment to mountain biking.

    The bike manufacturer already backs the Swiss Fischer and Texner teams as well as the U23 US Development team. "Whoever rides races on a BMC today should have the prospect, with the right performance, of becoming a professional with us," said Frank Schreiner, Head of Marketing at BMC.

    BMC filled out its roster first with riders from its core markets in Switzerland and Germany. German National Champion Moritz Milatz is the most well known mountain bike racer on board with the new team.

    "For me, the BMC team is an ideal group with the right background. Living in Freiburg, I am also very close and will be able to integrate myself well," said Milatz. "After my unfortunate injury in 2010, I am truly motivated to give it my all in 2011. The material and the environment couldn't be better."

    In addition to the German, Swiss racers Patrik Gallati, Balz Weber and Julien Taramarcaz...