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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Date published:
August 23, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • New Zealand's Cooper surprises at Czech World Cup

    Anton Cooper (New Zealand)
    Article published:
    August 14, 2011, 21:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Junior wins in first World Cup appearance

    Anton Cooper upset the new European champion to win the junior men's cross country race at the UCI Mountain bike World Cup in the Czech Republic yesterday.

    The 16-year-old Cooper, who is from Christchurch, New Zealand, took his first start in a UCI World Cup and then blitzed the field to beat favourite Jans Schuermans (Belgium) by one minute and 43 seconds in Nove Mesto Na Morave.

    Schuermans,19, who won the European Championship last weekend, led on the first lap with Cooper following before the Belgium fell back and the young kiwi took control. He won comfortably from Schuermans with Spain's Pabli Rodriguez third.

    The Christchurch Boys High School student won a warm-up event in Switzerland last week and was using the World Cup to prepare for the upcoming world championships in Champery, Switzerland, at the end of the month.

    His European success continues a stunning season for the young Cantabrian who won the Oceania and New Zealand under 19 titles. He also became the youngest rider to win the famed Karapoti race and set a new record when he won the Motutapu mountain bike race.

    "This was the first time I rode a World Cup. It was hard. Jens went very quickly in the first lap, but I could stay with him and eventually win the race," said Cooper.

    See more coverage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Czech.

  • Näf ends season early due to injury

    Ralph Naef (Multivan Merida Biking Team)
    Article published:
    August 16, 2011, 21:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider will focus on healing nagging back problem

    Mountain biker Ralph Näf announced on Tuesday that he is quitting the 2011 racing season early due to health concerns. A persistent pain in his back has only gotten worse in recent weeks, and the Swiss rider does not feel he can compete with the world's elite at this time.

    Instead of racing the final World Cup in Italy this weekend and the world championships on home soil in Switzerland two weeks later, Näf, who races for Multivan Merida, plans to undergo more detailed medical check-ups in order to return to his old strength for the 2012 Olympic season.

    "That really was a difficult decision for me to take," said Näf. "Actually I am in a very good shape, but due to my back pain I cannot transform that shape into good results over the full distance of a race."

    During recent races, the pain in Näf's back has been so strong that his left leg has felt almost paralyzed at times.

    "I want to compete with the world's elite, and at the moment, I can only do that during the first half of a race. So I have to overcome these health issues in order to become a contender for wins in international races again next season."

    Näf has won the European championships three times and managed to win a world championship in 2006. He is hoping to contend for a medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

  • Leadville the "hardest one-day" race according to Brentjens

    Bart Brentjens (Milka-Trek Mountain Bike Team)
    Article published:
    August 17, 2011, 17:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Sixth place for former world and Olympic champion

    After finishing his first-ever Leadville 100 this weekend in Colorado, Bart Brentjens (Milka-Trek) was impressed by the difficulty of the event.

    "This is the hardest one-day race that I have ever ridden in my whole career," said Brentjens, who rolled across the line in sixth place with a time of 6:46:13. The winner was Todd Wells (Specialized), who clocked a 6:23:38.

    "I am really happy with the result."

    Brentjens won the first Olympic mountain bike race in 1996 and took bronze in the 2004 Olympic race. He is also a former cross country world champion (in 1995). At 42, he continues to compete, largely in mountain bike endurance single day and stage races such as the Crocodile Trophy.

    He explained just what makes Leadville so tough. "Racing under these extreme conditions, the high altitude and the change in weather from zero degrees (Celsius) in the morning up to 30 degrees at the finish line, is really tough for your body."

    The race drew 1900 participants for the 103-mile event. At aid station one, Brentjens was in 18th place, but by the third aid station at 40 miles, he had moved up to 10th. After climbing the Columbine Peak and going through the turn around, Brentjens was up to sixth at the next aid station. He held onto that spot for the duration.

  • Elite and under 23 women's cross country races separated for World Cup

    The start
    Article published:
    August 17, 2011, 21:10 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Two categories no longer run simultaneously

    Under 23 women will get their own completely separate cross country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy, this weekend. The decision should ease the congestion out on the course that had resulted from running both categories at the same time as has been done in the other World Cups this season.

    Prior to the 2011 season, the under 23 men and women raced with the elite men and women (respectively), but in the interest of helping young riders transition from the junior to elite ranks, they were offered a separate race this season. Top under 23 riders were still given the option to race with the elite category instead of the under 23 category, allowing for the fact that some racers mature sooner than others.

    Throughout the season the elite and under 23 men have raced at separate times, sometimes on the same day, sometimes not, but the 2011 World Cup finale in Italy will mark the first time that the under 23 women will have the course to themselves. In other rounds, they would start just a few minutes after the elite women.

    That near simultaneous start was causing chaos on the course. While lapped elite women were pulled as the elite leaders caught them, the lapped under 23 women were left in the race until they were caught by the under 23 women's leader. With the shorter courses, more under 23 women were getting lapped sooner and often in places were passing by the elite women was difficult.  It was also confusing for spectators to figure out who was in which race.

    "Following feedback from teams and riders we have been able to adjust the schedule on Saturday to allow the Under 23 women to have their own separate race," read an official communique from the UCI on Wednesday.

    At Val di Sole, the under 23 women had been set to compete at 11:47 am on Saturday just after the elite women at...

  • Nys ends mountain bike season earlier than planned

    Sven Nys had difficulties in the technical sections
    Article published:
    August 18, 2011, 19:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Focus shifts to cyclo-cross season

    Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) will not be at the mountain bike World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy this weekend, nor at the world championships in Switzerland in two weeks. After he did not finish the previous World Cup round in the Czech Republic last Sunday, Nys decided to end his mountain bike season a bit early.

    A knee injury that Nys suffered at the Dalby Forest World Cup in the spring seriously upset his plans for the 2011 mountain bike season. It made it impossible for him to acheive his goal of getting the results needed for an early qualification for the Belgian mountain bike team heading to the Olympic Games in 2012.

    "If we want Nys to arrive in a suitable form for the world championships, then his cyclo-cross season would be in jeopardy," said Paul Van Den Bosch, who coaches Nys. "Wanting to catch up on lost weeks constitutes an undue risk."

    "I feel like I've been running behind for a few weeks now as I've attempted to catch up," said Nys. "It does not make much sense to want to participate in the world championships at all costs and be plowed. My winters are too important to me. Too bad, but that's how it is. We'll see though for next year."

    Nys will soon begin preparation for the upcoming cyclo-cross season.

  • Tom Ritchey among those committed to attend Brasil Ride

    A Brasil Ride number plate
    Article published:
    August 18, 2011, 21:43 BST
    Cycling News

    Second-year mountain bike stage race set for October

    Mountain biking pioneer Tom Ritchey is attending the 2011 edition of the Brasil Ride. He is set to race the seven-day mountain bike stage race from October 23 to 29 in the Chapada Diamantina, Bahia in Brazil.

    Ritchey accepted a personal invitation from Brasil Ride founder Mário Roma.

    "This kind of experience is the focus of 2011 Brasil Ride - to promote the interaction between amateurs and professionals from around the world to share good time during seven days in the Chapada Diamantona. Tom has a very busy calendar and to have him is a big surprise," said Roma.

    Ritchey is a former national level racer, passionate rider and resourceful product designer with a unique, common sense approach to building the best road and mountain components. Ritchey was on the scene with other pioneers in the early days of mountain biking and he saw numerous ways to improve the equipment they were using.

    Ritchey was inducted into the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame in 1988. He still puts in 10,000 miles a year on his bike, constantly thinking of ways to make it better.

    In addition to Ritchey, other riders including Roberto Heras, Ivone Kraft, Agustina Apaza, Jeff Kervove, Sonya Looney, Brian and Jennifier Smith, Kristian Hynek, Milan Spolc, Abraão Azevedo, Daniela Genovesi, Adriana Nascimento, Hugo Prado Neto and Robson Ferreira are signed up to race.

    The inaugural Brasil Ride was run in 2010. Robert Novotny and Kristian Hynek (Free Cycling/Factor Bike) won the men's duo category while Ivonne Kraft and Celina Carpinteiro (Bionicon Loule) won the women's duo.

  • Butte 100 overcomes growing pains

    Tinker Juarez wins the Butte 100 in Montana
    Article published:
    August 19, 2011, 21:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Montana 100-miler puts itself on the map

    The Butte 100 mountain bike race began with about 40 local racers headed out for little more than a day in the saddle. But even that number is debatable between those in Triple Ring Productions (TRP), the organizing body of the Butte 100 endurance mountain bike race. Back then, record keeping ranked just below figuring out who's buying the post-race beer. Fast forward five short years and the race has evolved from its Montana-esque, grassroots approach into one of the nation's newest elite endurance mountain bike races.

    This past July, a record 228 racers came from 14 states and Canada to test their endurance at the fifth annual event. The routes, a 50- and 100-mile figure eight course, rambled over frontage roads, technical pitches, sandy doubletracks, and endless miles of smooth Continental Divide Trail singletrack. The draw is seeing over 16,000 feet of climbing recorded on the racer's GPS; 9,000 feet for the 50-milers. The Butte 100 is one of the most difficult races in the US. At least that's what mountain biking legend Tinker Juarez says.

    In July, Juarez was back for a second year of competing in his favorite race and posted a course record (nine hours and 36 minutes) on his way to winning the 100-mile open class. He was made aware of the race in 2009 through a friend, while racing in Costa Rica. He did some research, called then race director Bob Waggoner, and committed. Juarez saw an opportunity - an opportunity for a race, a town, and a gauge of his own conditioning in the critical weeks leading up to Leadville.

    Word of Juarez's 2010 registration in this little, down-home race somewhere on Montana's Continental Divide swept through the bike community. Overnight, the 2010 Butte 100 had literally tripled in size.

    2010 was a pivotal year for the four who make up TRP: Gina Evans, Guy Vesco, Bob and Gwen Waggoner. It put the race on the map and realized a long-held vision of bringing endurance mountain bike racing to...

  • Trek World Racing celebrates the perfect season

    Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) in Val di Sole, Italy, on his way to another World Cup win
    Article published:
    August 23, 2011, 20:58 BST
    Cycling News

    Downhillers Gwin and Moseley end 2011 World Cup on a high note

    With the perfect ending to an amazing season for Trek World Racing in Val Di Sole, Italy, this weekend, Tracy Moseley clinched the World Cup title and Aaron Gwin became the only man in history to win five downhill World Cups in one season.

    It was also the first time in the history of the World Cup that a team won both the men's and women's World Cup overalls in downhill. To top it off, Trek World Racing ended up the number one ranked team.

    The conditions for the World Cup finals on Sunday were difficult. The heat had dried out the steep course and holes were filling with fine powder. The lack of let up in the track made for a challenging final quarter of racing as riders became fatigued with arm pump, and the race was rife with spectacular crashes and saves.

    Moseley had the unenviable task of riding fast enough to get enough points, but not pushing too hard on this difficult track and throwing away the World Cup title. With a lead of 125 points going into the final over Frenchwoman Floriane Pugin, Moseley needed to finish seventh or better to win.

    She was not aware of this as she preferred to race without knowing the mathematical situation. In the end a solid, yet slightly nerve wracking run was good enough for fifth, a perfect record of podiums for 2011, and the title safely in her hands.

    "That is such an amazing relief. I'm so glad I didn't know what position I had to come, that would have played on my mind," said Moseley. "As it was, it was super hard to race this course. I wanted to let it go many times and just go for it, but in my mind I knew I couldn't risk it all. Not the most enjoyable race, but so cool to win...