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

Date published:
November 03, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Carpenter puts off school to focus on racing

    Manon Carpenter (Great Britain) on her way to a win
    Article published:
    October 27, 2011, 19:48 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Junior world champion heads into first season as elite racer

    Junior downhill world champion Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) has been been weighing the pros and cons of turning pro versus immediately furthering her education. The 18-year-old British racer has put off starting a degree program to focus on World Cup competition next year.

    "I want to concentrate on downhill racing for at least one year - maybe more depending on how it goes, perhaps delay university even further," said Carpenter to the BBC.

    She has been accepted into the science and Spanish degree course in Manchester, but come next fall, she'll have to decide all over again whether to start school or delay further.

    "Having more time off university will give me a chance to become more independent and a bit more mature," she said. "But I guess, as an athlete you peak in your early 20s, so maybe I should work at that for a few years and see how it goes," she said.

    Carpenter is fast enough to be ranked 10th among the elite women at the end of the 2011 World Cup Season. She was also the top junior woman in the series.

    Her skills have come from an extensive background in riding downhill, BMX and motorbikes.

    2011 wasn't the first year she was going for rainbow stripes, but her plans did not work out so well in 2010. One weekend prior to the world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, she crashed and broke her arm. Surgery and recovery followed.

    "To be honest, with injuries, pain comes with the sport, with training and crashing. But the most annoying thing is when you can't compete and when it makes you miss part of your season, part of your training, especially when it's a big race like the world champs."

    What the future will hold for Carpenter remains to be see. Unlike...

  • Maxxis-Rocky Mountain World Cup team ends

    Marie-Helene Premont (Canada)
    Article published:
    October 27, 2011, 23:19 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Rocky Mountain shifts focus to U23 development and freeride

    The Maxxis-Rocky Mountain World Cup team is coming to an end. For three seasons from 2009 to 2011, the team supported both downhillers and cross country riders on the World Cup circuit. Rocky Mountain Bicycles will continue to support its factory team while Maxxis will support several other World-Cup level teams.

    "We need to be involved with everything from racing to free-riding and also with new projects like adventures and trips," said Rocky Mountain's Sports Marketing Manager Peter Vallance to Cyclingnews.

    "We're looking to more participant-led marketing rather than only spectator-focused mountain biking. As a small company, we need to be efficient with where we spend our money."

    The Rocky Mountain World Cup team was one of the only teams in the last decade to win both cross country and downhill World Cups and also one of the only teams to have podium performances in men's and women's cross country and World Cups in the same season.

    Some notable highlights of the team's three-year run are French downhill star Sabrina Jonnier's eight World Cup wins and two World Cup overall titles, and Geoff Kabush's World Cup win in Bromont, two Canadian National titles, and multiple US Pro XCT wins. The team also reached the World Cup podium several times with Marie-Hélène Prémont and saw Cameron Cole develop into one of the best male downhill racers in the world.

    In 2012, Rocky Mountain will continue to support the Rocky Mountain Bikes Factory XC & DH Team, led by 2012 Olympian Prémont (MHP) and featuring Canada's brightest young talent. Prémont is finishing off a two-year contract with Rocky Mountain, which will see...

  • Video: Danny Hart speaks of Worlds win

    Danny Hart (Great Britain) on his gold-medal winning ride.
    Article published:
    November 01, 2011, 22:45 GMT
    By:
    Bike Radar

    Downhill champion shows off his rainbow stripes

    Jaws dropped across the globe as Danny Hart (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) threaded his way down the precipitous slopes of Champery in Switzerland to seize the rainbow stripes in the downhill at this year's UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, slicing through the mud and throwing in one of his signature whips in sight of the finish line crowd for good measure.

    Mountain Biking UK's Rob Weaver met up with Hart in Hamsterley Forest, just down the road from his home in Redcar, to check out his riding and quiz him about his career so far and that incredible race run. You can check out what he had to say in the video below. There'll be a full feature on Danny in issue 272 of MBUK magazine, out on December 14

    Note: Thanks to The Cross Keys in Hamsterley for use of their bar.

  • Photo Gallery: On the eve of La Ruta de los Conquistadores

    Beautiful beaches, mountains and clouds make up the scenery.
    Article published:
    November 02, 2011, 3:20 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Beautiful beachside scenery gets racers in the mood

    On the eve of the 2011 La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica, racers from 23 countries trickled into Jaco, the town hosting the start of stage 1 which will kick off at 6:00 am on Wednesday morning.

    The race is notoriously difficult - in terms of length and ruggedness of terrain - and race founder Roman Urbina reminded racers of what is to come.

    "This is an adventure," he said. "It's the real thing. We can't stop the country from running. You never know what you're going to see out there."

    Chilling out beachside for the riders' meeting, it was hard to think of what toils were to come, but Urbina gave some advice. "The bottom line is 'don't be scared'. Have fun."

    The route will be similar to what is was in 2010 except about 4km of walking through the Carara National Park have been cut out. That may save riders as much as one hour of slogging through a notoriously tough section.

    Check out this photo gallery from the eve of the race.

  • Rusch returns to La Ruta

    Rebecca Rusch (Specialized)
    Article published:
    November 02, 2011, 5:20 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Last minute decision brings Specialized rider back

    It was a last minute decision, but Leadville 100 winner Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) is back at the 2011 La Ruta de los Conquistadores to race.

    "I hadn't planned on coming back to this race this year," said Rusch to Cyclingnews. "A few weeks ago, some friends started asking me, and then the weather started turning cold at home in Idaho, so I came back for a few reasons."

    "First, I want to improve my ranking and each year, I learn more at this race. This is the kind of race where experience pays off."

    "Secondly, it's a winter boot camp for me with four really hard days of riding before we go into a winter of snow."

    Rusch, who finished third last year, will face some tough competition from perpetual La Ruta star Louise Kobin, who has won five times previously.

    "They don't call her La Ruta Lou for nothing. She has the course dialled and has raced here nine times. If you come to La Ruta, she's the one who sets the bar. Louise is one for me to watch. Every year I've been close to her, so if I can stay in contact with her, I'll be doing pretty well."

    Rusch also called out Adriana Rojas, one of the best riders in Costa Rica, as likely competition. "In any race like this, there are always people you don't know," she said, leaving the door open.

    Thinking of her strategy for this year, Rusch said keeping better focus would be important. "I need to race harder when I'm alone. Last year, I was alone for awhile on stage 2, and I was a bit lost but then found out at the end that I was only a few minutes behind Louise and (eventual winner) Angela (Parra). I wish I'd known that. I need to keep my head in the game and keep my focus. Every moment counts and it can come down to minutes or seconds."

  • Sonntag and Grant have high hopes for La Ruta defense

    Teammates Alex Grant and Ben Sonntag rode together during stage 2
    Article published:
    November 02, 2011, 19:15 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Last year's winner and runner-up are back to win

    Ben Sonntag and Alex Grant brought Cannondale a one-two finish at the 2010 La Ruta de los Conquistadores. Both riders are back again at the 2011 edition of the race, which will kick off on Wednesday morning.

    "I'm excited to get going, even if it is a 6:00 am start," said Sonntag to Cyclingnews on Tuesday evening.

    "It will be a tough year, like every year," said the German, who is competing for his third time. "Having Todd (Wells), Federico (Ramirez) and Milton (Ramos) here, it will be a hard race. Plus there may be someone we don't know about yet."

    Sonntag had a rough first year, but each subsequent edition has gone better and better.

    "In my first year, I think I was the guy with the most mechanicals, including obscure ones," he said. "I tore off a derailleur and even ripped a brake cable. This year I'm using the exact same bike setup as the second year. It worked last year, so why shouldn't it work this year?"

    Grant is also using the same bike set-up as in 2010, which he detailed a few days ago on Cyclingnews. He said experience will pay off for both of them. Grant, too, is in his third year of racing La Ruta.

    "Knowing what to expect is a big deal like how it will affect your body and what is coming up on the stage," said Grant. "The first year, I kept thinking, 'Where is the finish?' and people would say 'only 5km more', but they were messing with us. Knowing how long each day will be helps us manage food and effort."

    With the race happening two weeks earlier on the calendar, wetter and muddier conditions are expected.

    "It's been really wet and we're wondering how muddy it will be. We'll have 4km less of mud...

  • Video: Past La Ruta winner Prado takes new approach

    Costa Rican Manny Prado hikes with his bike.
    Article published:
    November 02, 2011, 21:10 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    2009 winner just having fun this time

    Seven years ago, in 2004, Manny Prado showed up to La Ruta de los Conquistadors as a complete newbie. In 2009, he won the event, but this year, he's taking a different approach.

    "The first year I remember looking at some ad in a magazine. I was living in California full time," said Prado to Cyclingnews. "La Ruta has always had a prestige about it. I had just started mountain biking for fun, and I said I wanted to go and do it. I had no training, no racing, no experience whatseover other than riding a BMX bike for 10 years."

    Prado showed up with unshaven legs and a good attitude. "It sounded cool and was in my homeland, so it was an excuse to come visit my family and say I participated in the toughest mountain bike race ever."

    The funny thing was that thanks to a quirk in assigning number plates by age and registration order, Prado was given the #1 plate in his first La Ruta outing. "I was happy to see that number plate, but I finished 51st," he said. "That plate was too big for my level. But I told myself at the finish in Puerto Limon that I wanted to be on the podium someday and earn that number plate."

    2009 turned out to be the year for that. "I put everything into it that year and did everything I could do - good rest, proper training, not going out, not walking around. I put in the necessary saddle time to come do the race with no endurance or speed issues and luck was on my side, too, so I came out on top."

    After taking 2008 and 2009 too seriously, Prado is taking a more wholistic approach to racing and life.

    "I took it way too seriously and I barely remember any of the good experiences because I was so focused on wanting to be just that - serious."

    "This year, I've done things differently. I'm thinking about the future more. I'm back in Costa Rica and going to school. I'm doing some work on the side to...

  • Video: Wells off to a good start at La Ruta

    Todd Wells (Specialized) after winning stage 1
    Article published:
    November 03, 2011, 0:15 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American wins stage and becomes first race leader

    Todd Wells (Specialized) got his first La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race experience off to a good start on Wednesday with a stage 1 victory in Costa Rica.

    When asked what it was like to race his first ever time in Costa Rica, he said, "There was lots of hiking and steep waterfalls and stuff I never got to experience before. It was great."

    "The hiking sections were interesting. You'd ride a few minutes, hike a few minutes and then ride some more. It wasn't muddy at all in the national park. It was more of a clay, so it would get slippery and there were some babyhead rocks, so it was hard to get traction.

    It's not like Wells had much time to admire the scenery which included lush green mountains, expansive views and low hanging clouds. "There were a few times in the beginning when we weren't going too hard, and I got to look around, but after we went through the jungle, I didn't get to see much. I had to stay focused and try to get to the finish."

    Wells battled Milton Ramos (Specialized) for the win. The two rode together or near each other for much of the race, but in the end Wells was stronger.

    "I tried to push it in the jungle because I'm a big tall guy and I can take big steps," said Wells of his early race strategy against the man who emerged as his top rival on the first day. "Ramos is light and I knew he would go up the road climb fast."

    Asked about his impression of a race often billed as the "toughest in the world," Wells said, "It was about as hard as I expected, but it was only day 1 so I'm sure it will only get harder as it goes on."

    Stage 2 will start Thursday...