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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, September 1, 2011

Date published:
September 01, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • New Zealand team arrives at mountain bike Worlds

    Cameron Cole (Lapierre International) finished 5th
    Article published:
    August 27, 2011, 21:48 BST
    Cycling News

    High hopes for success in cross country and downhill

    The New Zealand Mountain Bike team arrived in Champery, Switzerland, on Saturday to start its UCI Mountain Bike World Cchampionships programme. The 29-rider team has been training between Morzine, France, and various Swiss locations since the final World Cup round in Val di Sole last weekend.

    The final rounds of the World Cup cross country circuit were recently set alight by 17-year-old Anton Cooper from Woodend, North Canterbury. Cooper is finally realising his dreams of racing and winning at the highest level after being patient through the pre-junior age group categories in New Zealand.

    Cooper headed to Champery on the strength of back-to-back junior men's cross country World Cup wins in Czech and Italy. His exploits have created a buzz amongst the professional teams who have been lining up to speak to him, but Cooper's focus on the rainbow jersey is unwavering.

    On the downhill side of the team, New Zealand's strength and depth is recognised on the international circuit. The New Zealand team headed into Champery as the world number one ranked downhill nation in junior men, number two ranked nation in elite men, and number three ranked nation in junior women.

    In the elite men's category, especially this year, several athletes have the potential to win next weekend: Cam Cole, Justin Leov, Sam Blenkinsop, Brook MacDonald and Mat Scoles, who have all stood on World Cup podiums this year or achieved top 10 results. Blenkinsop is ready to fire as well after not having his best season and after recovering from the lingering effects of a debilitating stomach bug last weekend in Val di Sole. 2009 Junior World Champion MacDonald is hungry and driven for success, and having tasted the lofty heights of World Cup podiums this season, the...

  • New mountain bike stage races set for Whistler and Moab

    A racer in the inaugural Fernie 3-Day mountain bike stage race in the summer of 2011
    Article published:
    August 28, 2011, 18:59 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Furious3 stage race organizer expands plans for 2012

    Popular mountain bike destinations Moab and Whistler will each get a new mountain bike stage race in 2012. Race organizer Furious3, which hosted its first ever three-day mountain bike stage race in Fernie in British Columbia, Canada this summer, will add two more such races to its calendar for next year.

    The first Furious3 stage race in Fernie was held two months ago and included 300 riders. It will be run again in 2012 from June 30 to July 2.

    "Our first race was in Fernie and the 300 spots sold out in just three weeks," said Furious3's owner Mark Kaltenbach to Cyclingnews. "We felt there was a niche so we figured we'd see if Whistler and Moab would want to host, too."

    Kaltenbach used to own a few bike shops and has previously organized triathlons, but he comes from a mountain biking background and was interested in organizing events for mountain bikers.

    The new Whistler race is scheduled from August 24 to August 26, 2012, while Moab's race is on the docket for September 29 through October 1, 2012.

    "The events are designed to be three days and family friendly," said Kaltenbach. "Rather than going from location to location, these races are based out of one place. Racers stay in the same location for three days and you can spend time with your family more easily after each day's stage."

    "With the Fernie race, we scheduled it over a long weekend, so you don't have to take off any time to do it."

    Due to the busyness of Whistler, that race will be held on a three-day weekend from a Friday through Sunday that is not part of a holiday while the Moab race will be held on a Saturday, Sunday, Monday just prior to Outerbike, which will start the Wednesday immediately afterward.

    Kaltenbach is thinking big by including major mountain bike destinations like Moab and Whistler, but he figured it was best to start promoting three-day mountain bike stage races closer to home: hence the choice of Fernie to...

  • Determined Graves ready to reclaim rainbow jersey

    World Cup overall leader Jared Graves (Yeti-Fox)
    Article published:
    August 29, 2011, 4:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Aussie on form for four cross redemption

    Fresh from winning his third straight four cross World Cup title, Toowoomba's Jared Graves has his sights firmly set on winning his second rainbow jersey at next week's UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champéry, Switzerland.

    After capturing the world title in Canberra in 2009, things didn't go quite according to plan at last year's worlds in Mont Saint Anne, when he was pipped on the finish line by Czech rider Tomas Slavik in the final.

    Forced to settle for silver, the 29-year-old is more determined than ever to reclaim that top step on the podium.

    "My expectations are 100 per cent about winning the jersey back," Graves said from the Australian team's training base in Basel.

    "I'm riding better than ever and am feeling confident. But anything can happen in four cross, so I'm just crossing my fingers for a good night's racing.

    "My preparation has been perfect so far. Since I wrapped up the overall World Cup title, the focus has been 100 per cent on world champs. All the hard training is done and I'm just taking it easy now to come in fresh and ready.

    "The Champéry course is kind of a mix of downhill and BMX, which is perfect for me, and it's a bit steeper than usual which will favour me as well.

    "There is a super short start, so lane choice will be very important. So qualifying first will be the first goal, then making sure I've practiced all the possible lines and then just put it all together in racing."

    Graves will arrive in Champéry as the gold medal favourite, but the Australian champion says he will be motivated by the added expectation.

  • Thirty-three Australians set to line up in Champéry

    Troy Brosnan (Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz)
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 7:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Hill, Brosnan look to defend world titles

    Racing in the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships gets underway today, and Australia has a host of medal prospects in action across the five days of competition.

    Australia will field a 33-strong team to compete at the world titles in Champéry, Switzerland from 31 August to 4 September, with more than 800 athletes from 49 countries vying for the coveted rainbow jersey.

    Australian won three gold and one silver medal at last year's world championships in Mont-Saint-Anne in Canada.

    Queensland's Jared Graves is chasing his second rainbow jersey in the men's elite four cross. After being crowned world champion in 2009 in Canberra, Graves was forced to settle for silver at last year's world titles, pipped on the finish line by Czech rider Tomas Slavik. Graves comes to Switzerland in ominous form, after winning his third straight World Cup series crown three weeks ago.

    Richard Levinson (Queensland) and Graeme Mudd (New South Wales) will join Graves in the four cross.

    Along with Graves and Slavik, Swiss local hopes Roger Rinderknecht and David Graf, and 2010 bronze medallist Michal Prokop (Czech Republic) are also expected to be in the medal mix.

    South Australia's Troy Brosnan is the red-hot favourite to defend his junior downhill world title in Champéry.

    Competing against the elite men in the World Cup series this year, Brosnan took out the junior title and finished eighth overall in the elite standings – a terrific result for the 18-year-old against more senior and experienced riders.

    Seven Australian riders will line up in the junior men's downhill competition, with fellow South Australian rider Connor Fearon (South Australia) seen as the biggest challenger to Brosnan.

    In the men's elite downhill competition, Australia has five riders in action, including reigning world champion Sam...

  • Canada fields strong team for relay at Worlds

    Max Plaxton (Specialized) chases Sam Schultz (Subaru Trek)
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 13:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Pendrel, Plaxton, McNeely and Vialle face stiff competition

    Canada has always fielded a good squad for the cross country team relay and this year's mountain bike world championship is no exception. Catharine Pendrel, Max Plaxton, Evan McNeely and Alexandre Vialle will represent Canada in the event on Wednesday afternoon in Champéry, Switzerland.

    Canada won the team relay world championship titles in 2001, 2002 and 2004, took silver in 2009 and bronze in 2003. They will take on home favorites Switzerland, who won in 2006, 2007 and 2010. France, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic are also likely to field top teams based on past results.

    Each team relay team includes four riders including a minimum of one woman. It also includes an elite man, junior man and under 23 man. The event is scheduled for the opening day of the World Championships, immediately after the junior women's cross country race.

    Pendrel won the recent Val di Sole World Cup and finished second overall, while Plaxton won the US Pro XCT. Both are current national champions.

    Changes to the Canadian team

    There have been several changes to the initial selection list published earlier this summer by the Canadian Cycling Association, especially in the downhill and four cross categories.

    In cross country, Andrew Watson of Barrie, Ontario, will be racing in the elite men's category. Neal Kindree will not be competing.

    In downhill, 2010 silver medallist Steve Smith of Cassidy, British Columbia, will not be racing as he suffered an injury prior to the last World Cup of the 2011 season in Val di Sole, Italy. Micayla Gatto of Garibaldi Highlands, British Columbia, will also miss the competition as she is healing an injury occurred at the 2011 Canadian BMX Championships.

    Andrew Mitchell will be absent, so is Yann Gauvin in the elite men's downhill. Remi Gauvin of Nanoose Bay. British...

  • Warren and Kintner win US Pro GRT

    Jill Kintner (Transition-Red Bull) having a top ten run
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 20:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Northstar Downhill wraps up the series

    USA Cycling's Pro Gravity Tour (US Pro GRT) finished this weekend with the Northstar Downhill in Truckee, California. Finishing second at Northstar Cody Warren (DRD X-Fusion Intense) earned the men's overall title, while Jill Kintner (Transition Racing) topped the women's standings despite not contesting the series finale.

    Binggeli (KHS Bicycle) won the men's race to catapult himself from ninth place on June 27 to second place in the final men's Pro GRT standings. Warren maintained his top position in the final standings after placing second in the race. Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) finished the season tied with Curtis Keene (Specialized-SRAM) for third in the rankings while Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) was fifth.

    In the series finale at Northstar, Binggeli was the only professional rider to complete the 1.97-mile course in under four minutes, finishing in 3:59.6 to win the men's contest. Warren finished second, 2.5 seconds ahead of Keene in the Northstar downhill's final results.

    The course for the professional men and women started at 7,638 feet of elevation and covered 1,096 feet, finishing at mid-mountain of Northstar-at-Tahoe's Mountain Bike Park - 6,542 feet of elevation.

    Jill Kintner (Transition Racing) topped the final women's Pro GRT standings after winning each of the three races she entered. Darian Harvey (Vixen Racing) jumped from third on June 27 into second in the final standings, sliding Jacqueline Harmony (All Mountain Cyclery-Vixen Racing) into third overall. Mary Moncorge (Santa Cruz Alliance) moved from sixth into a tie with Joanna Petterson (Specialized) for fourth place in the standings after her third place finish in Truckee.

    Katie Holden (Specialized USA) won the Tahoe Pro GRT finale by 1.5 seconds over Harvey. Moncorge, who finished third, was only 4.2 seconds behind Holden. Fourth place rider Cierra Smith...

  • Moseley mixes it up in Worlds team relay

    Tracy Moseley (GBr) Trek World Racing
    Article published:
    September 01, 2011, 13:16 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Downhill world champion impresses with cross country appearance

    Downhill world champion Tracy Moseley made an unusual appearance in yesterday's cross country team relay at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland.

    Mosely filled the role of the required female racer on Great Britain's team relay squad. She competed wtih Kenta Gallagher, Grant Ferguson and Liam Killeen.

    "I've never had so much support out on course," said a cheerful Moseley, still winded after her one-lap, all out effort. "I probably had more support than anyone else out there because all the downhillers couldn't believe I would actually do the team relay and came out to see it."

    She was in good spirits after finishing her lap.

    "I don't know if you'll see me doing that again! It was quite an experience," she said. "Hats off to everyone who does that kind of thing every weekend because it's not pleasant."

    Moseley had plenty of time to practice on the cross country course. Used to super technical downhill World Cup courses, the rocks and roots on Champery's tough cross country course didn't phase her during practice, but she found them a bit harder at race pace.

    "I loved the cross country course in practice. It was so different racing it," said Moseley. "Having pre-ridden the track, I thought I could ride everything fast, but I could just not recover. I had not experienced racing like that and recovery was not happening. Even the sections I was loving in practice were so hard because I was absolutely ruined."

    It was her first time doing a team relay. "I was nervous and didn't want to let the guys down. I had no idea how I'd go."

    The British team finished a respectable ninth place out of 21...

  • Absalon still figuring out how to beat Kulhavy

    Julien Absalon (France) speaks to the media in a presscon on Thursday morning.
    Article published:
    September 01, 2011, 14:56 BST
    Rob Jones

    Both riders among the favorites for Worlds cross country

    A relaxed Julien Absalon met with about 30 members of the press at the French team headquarters in "Hotel France" - renamed for the week of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships from its usual "Hotel Suisse". The four-time cross country world champion started off by apologizing for being late after anti-doping testers showed up at his room on Thursday morning.

    Absalon is among the favorites who will race for the rainbow stripes in the elite men's cross country race on Saturday. The French national champion agreed with the estimates of most pundits: Czech rider Jaroslav Kulhavy, the World Cup champion, is the top favourite after winning five of seven World Cups this year.

    Absalon admitted that he hasn't found Kulhavy's weakness yet, so working on a tactic to beat him has been difficult.

    "I would have said maybe [his weakness was] sprints, but we found out last week [at the World Cup final in Val di Sole] that he is also good at sprints," said the French rider.

    Absalon listed himself, Swiss riders Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel, as well as South African rider Burry Stander and last year's World Champion, Spanish rider José Antonio Hermida Ramos, as possible contenders for the jersey. He said it is difficult to narrow it down to a couple riders.

    However, Absalon does have a major advantage. He's proven that he knows how to cope with pressure at world championship and Olympic events and still win. "I'm more experienced than some of the younger riders," he said.

    Absalon is one of just two riders to beat Kulhavy at a World Cup this season. Schurter is the other.