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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, September 19, 2013

Date published:
September 19, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Norway presents 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

    Team Norway - Lene Byberg and Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesj
    Article published:
    September 12, 2013, 8:18 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Hafjell and Lillehamer team up to host cross country, downhill Worlds

    In 2014, Hafjell and Lillehamer, Norway will host the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. With one year to go, organizers, keeping with tradition, presented their championships event at the recent 2013 Worlds in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    "We were awarded the world championships after many hard years of work," said Kjell Tore Bjørnhaug, Event Director, to Cyclingnews. "We started doing small events and we grew and got bigger and bigger. After we hosted the European Championships in 2010, the only way to go was the World Cup."

    Hafjell hosted a gravity World Cup last year, and this coming weekend, it will host a triple World Cup, with cross country, eliminator and downhill racing, the perfect test event one year in advance of the Worlds.

    "After we hosted the first World Cup, we talked to the UCI, and they needed a good host for 2014 Worlds," said Bjørnhaug. "So we're there now, we've gotten to the top. We started this work 12 years ago. Now we have the expertise and knowledge to do it. Now we're ready."

    Bjørnhaug noted that the big difference in stepping up to host the Worlds is more logistics and more people. "You can host a big national event, but it's nothing. With Worlds, everything is so much bigger - like the TV and the press. It fills up the beds in the hotel. It's so much bigger and there is so much more to work with. It's great."

    Hafjell will host both the downhill and cross country events at Worlds in 2014 while the eliminator will be hosted in downtown Lillehamer. In contrast, for this weekend's World Cup, all three events are being held in Hafjell.

    Having the Worlds in Norway should work out well for the country's most famous current mountain biker, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan...

  • Tanguy and Sornson win 2013 NUE Series overall titles

    Cheryl Sornson
    Article published:
    September 12, 2013, 21:20 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Team CF well represented atop podiums

    Christian Tanguy and Cheryl Sornson (both Team CF) won the 2013 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, which wrapped up this past weekend at the Fool's Gold 100. There series consists of (mostly) 100-mile mountain bike races across the US.

    In the women's division, Sornson took her third series title with four victories, including True Grit, Cohutta, Wildcat, Syllamo's Revenge, Mohican, Tatanka and Fool's Gold.

    "Winning the NUE for the third time, is a charm," said Sornson. "It was a long season that started way back in March with the True Grit in Utah. Knowing that there were so many races in the series, I focused on the newer venues for variety and completed most of my 100 milers by the beginning of June."

    Sornson had planned two more races in the late summer, but had to attend to family matters instead.

    Vicki Barclay (Stan's NoTubes) put up a good fight to finish second while Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) was third.

    Barclay made a late season surge in the standings, but it wasn't enough to unseat Sornson. "Fortunately, the six wins I accumulated kept me in the lead and missing key races did not affect my series standings," said Sornson.

    "Kudos to all the women who completed the series. Regardless of where you finished, you did it and it is such an accomplishment to push through these events let alone toe the line."

    In the men's division, Tanguy proved the best with victories in the Cohutta 100 and Wilderness 101, second places in the High Cascades and the Hampshire 100, a third place in the Shenandoah and a fifth place in the Syllamo's Revenge.

    Two more Team CF riders rounded out the men's top three: Cary Smith and Rob Spreng.

    Gerry Pflug gave Team CF another top podium spot in the singlespeed men's division while Marland Whaley (Red Barn Bicycles) claimed the Masters men 50+ division overall title.

    With Team CF's strong showing, team owner Jim Wilson was especially pleased....

  • Swiss Epic mountain bike stage race launched for 2014

    Nino Schurter, Thomas Frischknecht and Florian Vogel
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 15:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Switzerland gets a new mountain bike stage race

    The growth of mountain bike stage racing continues, with the newest such race, the Swiss Epic, announced for the Valais Alps in Switzerland on September 15-20, 2014.

    The six-day Swiss Epic will take racers from Verbier through Leukerbad and Grächen and will end in Zermatt. With a distance of 400km and an elevation gain of 15,000 meters, the course will be a challenge to both professional and amateur riders.

    This past weekend, more than 80 mountain bikers took the chance to preview some of the new race's route. Cross country world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) was among those in attendance at the race's launch and preview ride. He is looking forward to his own participation in 2014.

    "What I like about the Swiss Epic, besides its attractive route, is that team spirit is also very important. In addition, Switzerland as a mountain bike country hasn't yet had a world class race - this will surely soon change," said Schurter.

    The communities on the route are using the race as an opportunity to push mountain bike tourism in their regions.

    "We're really honoured and excited to be a destination in the Swiss Epic. The event gives us the opportunity to work together with service providers in the region to establish a full range of mountain biking activities and routes as well as to make them known," said Daniel Luggen, Director of Zermatt Tourism.

    The UCI has classified the Swiss Epic as an S2 race, and the race is being backed by title sponsor Perskindol, a product for muscle and joint discomfort, and by bike manufacturer Scott.

    Behind the ambitious new mountain bike stage race is a high profile team of Joko Vogel, Dany Gehrig, and Thomas Frischknecht as well as project manager, Olivia Schoch.

    The format

    The race's...

  • Cyprus Sunshine Cup shrinks to two rounds for 2014

    Racers at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 17:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Afxentia Stage race extended by one day

    The 2014 Cyprus Sunshine Cup will consist of two rounds for 2014. The European season-opening series has in recent years held as many as four rounds. However, one of its rounds, the Afxentia stage race, has been extended to four days and will serve as a preparation for the Cape Epic for some racers. In total, the number of racing days in the series remains the same as last year.

    "We wanted to improve and give the Cyprus Sunshine Cup a new pulse," said promoter Mike Hadjioannou.

    The new approach targets amateur riders, especially those who want to take part in the Cape Epic in South Africa a few weeks later. The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is a is a destination where some central Europeans chose to prepare for other races early in the season. It's agreeable climate and trails give many a break from "winter".

    Not only are the trails technically challenging and physically demanding, but the trails in the Afxentia stage race also offer stunning views. The first stage will be a time trial event.

    However, compared to all previous editions, the race will not take place in the Macheras Mountains, but in Lefkara. The new second stage will start from there, too, while its finish will be in Skarinou. Lythrodontas will be the start-finish for stage 3, and the riders will ride the well known large loop through the Macheras Mountains. On stage 4 on Sunday, the cross country race at Mantra tou Kampiou concludes the competition, as a UCI HC-classified race.

    "The Afxentia stage race is an ideal preparation for the Cape Epic, and you can use it as part of a training camp," said Hadjioannou.

    Non-Cape Epic racing pros may also use the racing in Cyprus as a training ground ahead of the World Cup.

    The second stop of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup will then take place one week later in Voroklini as a cross country race, situated not far from Larnaca.

    2014 Cyprus Sunshine Cup
    February 27- March 2:...

  • Schurter wraps up season with World Cup title

    2013 World Cup overall and world champion Nino Schurter
    Article published:
    September 17, 2013, 19:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider does the world championship - World Cup overall double

    Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) closed out his 2013 World Cup season in style this weekend in Hafjell, Norway. With rival Julien Absalon (BMC) absent due to broken ribs, Schurter had the World Cup title locked up before the cross country race even started, but he still put up a good fight to finish second to Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized).

    Some might say he also won the style competition with how well he rode the BMX-style jumps each lap around the course.

    Schurter has had a whirlwind two weeks since winning the world championship race in South Africa.

    "Sure the preparation for this one was not idea due to a hectic period, but hopefully I can still count on some form that's left from Worlds," said Schurter prior to the race.

    Schurter put the hurt on the others right from the start. With Manuel Fumic, Marco Fontana, Ondrej Cink, Mathias Flückiger and Kulhavy the group that was able to follow him was larger than in prior races, but Schurter looked strong and controlled the attacks. Always gaining some meters on the descents, it was clear that Schurter wanted to win this one, too.

    Kulhavy was the biggest threat. He was the only one to hang with Schurter in the final third of the eight-lap race. Two times he was passed by Schurter flying in the air over the BMX jumps. It looked like the Swiss rider was having a lot of fun out there and this was very much appreciated by the crowd.

    On the long climb on the last lap, Kulhavy launched an attack that brought Schurter into trouble. Memories from the Olympic Games in London flashed through Schurter's mind. Although he took all the risks on the final long descent, he was unable to catch Kulhavy.

    "On the last lap I did not have the...

  • World champion Rude going fast downhill

    American Richard Rude Jnr claimed the Junior men's downhill World Championship ahead of Frenchman Loris Vergier (left) and Great Britain's Michael Jones (right) in blustery conditions on Friday at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg
    Article published:
    September 18, 2013, 4:26 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American junior finishes off season in style

    American Richard Rude won his first world title in the junior men's downhill race held a few weeks ago in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    "It means a lot to win the Worlds. It's nice to have the title of number one," said Rude to Cyclingnews. "Being number two, you don't really get much. Being a world champion is a big deal."

    Rude should know. Last year, he was second at Worlds. Racing among the elite men in the World Cups, he consistently finished in the top 30, occasionally cracking the top 20s. He finished 23rd overall in the World Cup.

    The last-year junior from Redding, Connecticut had a challenging season up until Worlds. "This year my racing hasn't been what I expected to be. I think I was maybe top 25 at Fort William and that was maybe my best result up until Worlds. This year I've been struggling a little bit, and I was really happy to come to Worlds and do well."

    "I was feeling like if I didn't win this, it would be kind of a let down. I knew it was my last year as a junior and it was my last time to prove myself at a junior. I had to win or it would have been over and I wouldn't have been happy."

    At the most recent World Cup round in Hafjell, Norway, Rude finished 55th among the elite men With one round to go this weekend in Leogang, Austria, he sits in 56th in the elite World Cup standings.

    Rude began competing at a young age and has been going fast ever since. "I started racing cross country just for fun when I was eight years old," he said. "I've always been riding cross country, then I got a bit into BMX, and then I slowly turned to the downhill. That became my main focus when I was 12 or 13."

    Given his cross country background, Rude does well on pedalling tracks, like the one that was used for Worlds in...

  • Mountain bike World Cup eliminates junior races for 2014

    And the junior women are off to a start in Czech
    Article published:
    September 18, 2013, 19:25 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    European series of major races to replace World Cup

    The last junior cross country World Cup was held in Hafjell, Norway this past weekend. Junior cross country racing is being eliminated from the World Cup for the 2014 season.

    "There will not be a junior World Cup next year. There won't be junior races, and there won't be a series standing at the World Cup. It will only be elites and U23s," said UCI Technical Delegate Simon Burney to Cyclingnews.

    Burney explained why the change was being made.

    "What's happening at the moment is that we can't fit six races into the schedule in one day. On a triple [World Cup] weekend, we're always left with one race when we start at 9:00 am and the last race starts at 5:00 pm. We can't go any longer that day."

    "That leaves the junior men to go on Sunday mornings - on the downhill day. It's a complete nightmare for the organizer, who has to come up with 40 marshals for the second day. They have to repair the course after the elite races, and they have to keep the timing set up from cross country for one more race that lasts an hour, and then all the focus goes into the downhill. There are never any spectators for the kids at 9:00 am and they feel like they are an afterthought."

    Another problem is the lack of attendance by the juniors, especially at World Cups held outside of Europe.

    "If we take a World Cup out of Europe, like Mont-Sainte-Anne [Canada], Pietermaritzburg [South Africa] and next year in Australia, the junior participation is so low. We get a handful of junior women and we get 20-odd junior guys, and the majority are from the promoting nation, so it's not really a World Cup."

    The UCI has tried holding a junior race on Friday afternoon, but that, too, has issues. "It's difficult then because of school," said Burney.

    In the past, the UCI has tried to fit in every category's race by combining categories...

  • Bulls and Centurion Vaude teams to battle at Trans Zollernalb

    The lead group during stage 1 of the 2012 Trans Zollernalb
    Article published:
    September 19, 2013, 16:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Süss favorited for women's win in German mountain bike stage race

    The Trans Zollernalb mountain bike stage race will kick off its fourth edition with a world-class line up. Swiss riders Urs Huber and Esther Süss and Czech rider Kristian Hynek are some of the top favorites that will take part in the race on September 20-22, 2013.

    Lot of marathon big guns are expected to show up for the three-day stage race, but there are some names that stand out from the crowd.

    First is Huber. The man who was fifth at the world marathon championships has shown strong form in recent weeks. Last Sunday, he won the Swiss Open Bike race in Granvillard; a race he used as a preparation for the Trans Zollernalb.

    "Both races have similar (fast) stages, and I wanted to use it to prepare for Trans Zollernalb. I think I'm in good shape," said Huber.

    Hynek, who was at the first version of the race, also belongs to the top bunch of marathon specialists. Hynek was third and fourth at the two most recent marathon Worlds. He was also third at this year's European marathon championships in Singen, a race with a similar profile.

    Moritz Milatz was expected to compete, but cancelled his appearance after a disappointing World Cup in Hafjell, Norway last weekend. There are still a number of ambitious German challengers for the two strong foreign favorites.

    One of them is Huber's teammate on Team Bulls, Tim Boehme, who was fourth in the European marathon championships. Both will be supported by veteran endurance MTB racer Stefan Sahm.

    As for team tactics, the Centurion-Vaude team is likely to be the main antagonist. German marathon champion Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käss, who won the TransAlp together with Kaufmann, should ride a strong race along with Hannes Genze, the inaugural winner of the Trans Zollernalb.

    "You have to be very attentive to what is happening. Strong teammates should definitely help each other in this race," said Kaufmann, who believes that his teammates are in...