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Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
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Nedbank 360Life duo celebrates Cape Pioneer Trek victory
The year didn't turn out the way they'd planned, but elite South African marathon racers David George and Kevin Evans of Team Nedbank 360Life secured a tough mountain bike stage race win when they rolled with a sense of satisfaction over the finish line in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape on Saturday to claim a dominant victory at the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.
It wasn't the Cape Epic, their primary stage race goal for the year, but the Cape Pioneer Trek, a three-year-old event that's growing in stature, was, according to Evans, just as tough and an appropriate conclusion to what was a tumultuous year for the two-rider team.
"We started the year with a win in Oudtshoorn, and we finished with a win in Oudtshoorn, A nice way to book-end a roller coaster season," said George, a former road racing professional, who personally enjoyed a watershed year as a mountain biker, winning a number of high profile races, including the Willingen Marathon in Germany and capturing the MTN South African National Marathon Series title.
George won the Attakwas marathon, the opener of the MTN National Series, in Oudtshoorn in January, giving the newly formed team a perfect start. But less than three months later, when Evans crashed out of the Cape Epic with a broken collarbone on stage 1, it was reassessment time for the team that intended (and still intends) to become the first South African team to win the Cape Epic.
Misfortune on the bike, illness and injury took turns in beating Evans and George down throughout the year, both in South Africa and Europe. But each time they bounced back with the resilience of a seasoned boxer, refusing to be counted out no matter how hard the blow.
The Cape Pioneer Trek became their final goal race of the year with the aim of using it to confirm their status as world-class racers, fine-tune...
Top riders happy with off-road stage race
The second edition of the Langkawi International Mountainbike Challenge (LIMBC) drew to a close this weekend. After five days of off-road stage race action, top-ranked riders Karl Platt and Nathalie Schneitter took home the men's elite and women's elite titles respectively.
German rider Platt of Team Bulls was a dominant force in the elite men's race, winning stage 2 and stage 4 as well as the king of the hill prize. He never finished outside the top three throughout the entire event on his way to taking home the top prize of US$16,450.
Platt would like to return to LIMBC next year if the race does not clash with his other commitments. "It's nice to win something this year, as I've finished either as runner-up or third place in most of the events I took part this season. Langkawi has an interesting and unique landscape that challenges avid mountain bikers. I hope to be able to come again in the future," said Platt.
"I wish to give credit to the organisers for coming up with interesting and unique singletrack course. The humidity and heat aside, the organisation was professionally done. I would definitely recommend this race to my friends," said Stander.
Top women's finisher Schneitter of Colnago Farbe Sudtirol, who won four of the five stages, held on to the possibility of defending her title next year. "Next season...
Dutchman takes first victory of the season
The happiest rider at the finish of stage 8 of the Crocodile Trophy in Kalpowar on Wednesday was Dutch racer Huub Duyn. Although he had some doubts about starting the day's stage, he ended up winning it.
"It is true, I thought 'what am I doing here?' a lot and that I should really be somewhere nice with my wife in October, but now my perseverance paid off," said 27-year-old Duyn.
Duyn is usually found racing the pro road circuit and not in mountain bike stage races through the Australian Outback.
"I had no mountain bike experience at all. This race is technically not so hard, but there is the heat, today all those corrugations - I have blisters on my hands - and then after the stage, you need to put up your tents, wash your clothes yourself etc. It makes it hard, but an unforgettable adventure."
After winning Paris-Tours U23 for Rabobank Continental in 2006, Jonathan Vaughters brought Huub Duyn to his Slipstream-Chipotle team in 2007. He stayed there for three years.
"That was a perfect team for me. Vaughters had patience with me after my mononucleosis in my first and an iliac outlet syndrome in my second year. They used me for all work. I started in all classic races for them. I can climb, I can ride the whole day in the front. I know my job in cycling."
Unfortunately for Duyn, 2010, ridden with Team NetApp, was a year to forget. He was hit by a car, which left him with five facial fractures.
In 2011, he has been racing for the continental Team Jelly Bell-Donckers Koffie, and while he earned four podium spots, he had to come to Australia for his first victory of the season.
Huub's Darrell Lee-Donckers Koffie Cycling 1 teammate in the Croc Trophy, another roadie Kevin Hulsmans, had...
Eight days of racing again for world's largest MTB stage race
The Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race organizers revealed route details on the event's website for the 2012 edition to be held from March 25 to April 1. The race will again happen over eight days and be run with teams of two riders.
The 2012 edition will cover 781km with 16,300m of climbing from Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanvilla to Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.
The route, which changes significantly each year, will lead 1200 cyclists through vast distances of virgin territory, previously untouched by the race. The stage locations of Meerendal, Robertson, Caledon and Oak Valley (Elgin Valley) await riders, who will again finish at the Lourensford Wine Estate as has been tradition for the past six years.
Route designer Leon Evans, nicknamed Dr. Evil, was again responsible for the details including the prologue, which will again be a team time trial.
"There are no easy days in this race. Registration day is easy and the Monday after the race is easy. Anyone who thinks there's anything easy about the Absa Cape Epic, is a fool. My job is to make sure that no rider, in any previous edition of the race, can say, 'The 2012 Epic riders had it easy'," said Dr. Evil.
"Our aim is not to make the route tougher each year just for the sake of it," said Race Director Kevin Vermaak. "We aim to offer participants from around the world an awesome trail that showcases the best that the Western Cape has to offer. We want new routes, with suitable technical and challenging riding, that take the riders to new towns whilst at the same time giving them the most beautiful and remote scenery, with wild animals to boot. Without the incredible support of Cape Nature Conservation, this would not be possible as they give us access to their reserves."
Much of the Cape Epic route passes through private lands, which are only open to racers during the event.
Defending champion sidelined by illness
Urs Huber (Stöckli Pro Team) went into this year's Crocodile Trophy with the intention of winning his third consecutive overall title. However, on Thursday, just before the penultimate stage, he withdrew from the mountain bike stage race due to illness.
During the night, Huber came down with a fever. He had already had a rough stage 8, during which he suffered a bleeding nose for most of the second half. Still, that didn't stop him from putting out a superhuman effort, setting the pace for much of the stage.
"My tent was next to Urs' tent," said Belgian Mike Mulkens (Kipeo MTB Team), a podium finisher in previous years. "I heard him coughing the whole night. No, there is no question about his illness, there is nothing funny about it. Urs is sick."
Going into Thursday's stage Huber was seven minutes off race leader Jeroen Boelen and was the final threat to Boelen's lead. The notoriously sandy stage 9 from Kalpowar to Starke had potential to mix up the classification.
"It is a pity that there was no battle any more with Urs Huber today. It is the way it is. Urs will come back, motivated as ever, I am sure about that," said Boelen.
Huber became the second high profile racer to withdraw from the Crocodile Trophy due to illness. After travelling all the way to Australia from Europe, another top contender, Bart Brentjens, Boelen's Milka-Trek teammate, had to pull out of the race just before it started.
Ontario mountain bike stage race plans improvements
After taking a year off in 2011, the Crank the Shield mountain bike stage race will return in 2012. The event will be held in Ontario, Canada, on September 14 - 16, 2012.
The organizers, Chico racing, have promised drier trail conditions, up to 25 percent more singletrack and new stage formats for the bi-annual event. New for 2012, a two-day version of Crank the Shield is also happening, for riders who can't get off on Friday, but can get off on the weekend.
"It's a lollipop format, where riders will re-use the best of our camps, Camp White Pine for both Friday and Saturday nights' accommodations," said Sean Ruppel of Chico Racing.
"This will allow a totally new course for Saturday, weaving riders through more singletrack, epic backcountry riding and some spectacular backroad scenery. Boggy, rutted out ATV trails need not apply!"
What it also means is that riders will sleep in the same beds both nights.
For more information on Crank the Shield, log onto www.cranktheshield.com.
Mountain bike stage racing returns to central Pennsylvania
Over the past two days, the No Tubes Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage race, held in and around State College, Pennsylvania, launched what will be its next edition from May 27 to June 2, 2012. There will be some minor tweaks for the race's third year, but organizers will stick the generally tried and test format of previous years.
"We're refining more than making major changes for this coming year," said Co-Promoter Mike Kuhn to Cyclingnews. "We're happy with the way the courses have worked out and people's responses to them."
The race starts on a Sunday and covers seven stages in seven days. It is headquartered at a Boy Scout Camp just south of State College. All but two of the stages start and finish at headquarters, and it is both remote stages that are getting some tweaking for next year. Both will be a bit shorter.
"The biggest change is that we're going to do something different with the super D / mini XC stage. It's not because we don't like the format, but it ended up being a longer day than what we wanted. This year, it will probably be a cross country stage, held again at RB Winter State Park."
"Raystown will shed just a few miles, too. We want to keep the fun factor as high as possible. Just pulling back four or five miles out of the course seems like the right thing to do based on feedback from riders," said Kuhn. "It will be 34 to 36 miles.
Other changes include the use of more private property. "For the queen stage to Tussey Mountain, we'll have access via a private campground, Kern's Campground, so the stage will finish right across the street from our headquarters."
The prologue may also include some new sections of singletrack on the private property of the race's moto driver, who lives nearby.
Finally, on the Cooper's Gap stage, racers will start enjoying singletrack sooner than in previous years.
"The race has worked very well so far. We want to keep it...
Each day's route described
Absa Cape Epic organizers issued a detailed, stage by stage description of the ninth edition of the race coming up on March 25 to April 1, 2012. In total, the race will cover 780km and include 16,300m of climbing in one prologue and seven stages from Durbanville to Lourenford Wine Estate.
"The Absa Cape Epic has again selected some of the best terrain that the Western Cape has to offer. Our route designer, Leon Evans or as he is best known amongst riders, Dr Evil, has managed the perfect balance between exciting trails, challenging terrain and wider vistas in the pursuit of the ultimate mountain biking experience," said Kevin Vermaak, Director and Founder of the Absa Cape Epic.
Prologue - Meerendal Wine Estate, Durbanville, Cape Town (27km with 900m of climbing)
The race kicks off with a 27km prologue. It will be the fourth time in the race's history that a short team time trial opens proceedings at the Meerendal Wine Estate on the Durbanville Wine Route, passing through protected Renosterveld. Far from just a ceremonial stroll, it will be flat out from the start ramp heading through Contermanskloof, Hillcrest and Kliprug,railing the sublime singletrack in the Tygerberg Hills. On the final push on the lung-bursting climb up to the mountaintop finish, riders will be looking to spectators lining the trail for support, with magnificent views of Table Mountain and Table Bay in the background. Teams will open up their throttles for a good seeding at the official start in Robertson on stage one.
Stage 1 - Robertson to Robertson (115km with 2350m of climbing)
Stage 1 is always a rude awakening for participants. Combining the length, climbing, severity of trail surfaces and speed of fresh-legged hares at the front of the field - all will be a shock to the system, even for the best prepared. Three major climbs will loom ahead of the athletes. The first 3km rise will be littered with loose rocks...