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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Date published:
August 09, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Mountain biker Grotts on a roll in North America

    Junior rider Howard Grotts (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Development Team)
    Article published:
    August 02, 2011, 23:12 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Junior national champion looks ahead

    Howard Grotts (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Development Team) has been the revelation of the junior mountain bike racing scene in the United States this season. Grotts recently won the junior 17-18 men's cross country national championship in Sun Valley, Idaho.

    He also won the junior World Cup in Windham, New York, although he had to sit out the previous North American World Cup round in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, after his passport arrived one day too late.

    Cyclingnews spoke with him at the US Pro XCT finals in Missoula, Montana, where he beat all of his elders by winning the Cat. 1 cross country race.

    Grotts, 18, is in his final year as a junior. He lives in Durango, Colorado, and got into mountain biking when his five and a half year older brother picked the sport in middle school.

    "He stopped in high school, but I stuck with it and it's taken me far," said Howard Grotts.

    "I pretty much do all mountain biking and I am going to stay with it. I hope to do some U23 camps in Europe."

    Grotts explained why he has been successful this year. "Unlike last season, I'm doing more structured training. I'm still enjoying being on the bike and riding as much as possible." He also credited his team for the extra support.

    When asked why so many fast riders are coming out of Durango, Grotts said, "I think I can attribute it to Durango Devo program. It started with seven riders and now it has over 220 kids in it. All kinds of riders are enjoying being on their bike. They are funneling through the pipeline and becoming fast as they do so."

    Next up for the young rider is the mountain bike Worlds in Switzerland. "At the end of August, I'll be in Champery for the world championships. That will be a good experience," he said. "Next year, I'll start as a U23 and race some races with the pros. I'm...

  • Kulhavy previews home World Cup course in Czech

    Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) in Nove Mesto, Czech, the site of a World Cup in 2011.
    Article published:
    August 03, 2011, 21:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Home course suits series leader

    World Cup leader Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) will get to race the next UCI cross country World Cup round at home, in Nove Mesto, Czech, on August 14. He got a chance recently to check out the course at what is a brand new mountain bike World Cup venue.

    On a practice lap, Kulhavy took 12 minutes to get around the 4km track, which has been used for other non World Cup events. "The track isn't ridden out yet, so it's not exact, but once it is, it'll be much faster," he said. "I already like it now and it will be even better.

    "There is a lot more gravel, sand and rocks on the track compared to last year," said Kulhavy. "If it rains, there won't be any problems with the track, it'll be rideable."

    UCI officials will decide three days prior to the race how many laps the racers will do.

    "We expect seven or eight laps," said Lukas Vlach, the Merida Biking team manager and also one of the track builders. "We've taken Jaroslav's remarks into account; however, we cannot build the track just for him."

    Kulhavy checked out the course for about an hour. It's located in the woods where famous cross country skiers such as Katerina Neumannova and Lukas Bauer have celebrated victories.

    True to his usual riding style, Kulhavy rode the technical sections with instinctive elegance and climbed steep slopes with lightness. He rode slowly through some more complicated sections, memorizing the track as he went.

    "This track suits him well," said Kulhavy's coach, Viktor Zapletal, who also rode the course.

    When asked where on the course, the attacks would come, Kulhavy said, "I can't really say yet," said Kulhavy. "It probably won't be just one place. Most likely in the second half of the race, when the three steep hills will give everyone a hard time. The softer ground there will also...

  • Jongewaard pursues Epic hat trick

    Chris Jongewaard descends a tricky part of the course as he heads towards another victory.
    Article published:
    August 05, 2011, 1:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Australian national champion prepares for mountain bike Worlds

    Australian cross country national champion Chris Jongewaard will pursue a third victory in the Flight Centre Epic in South East Queensland as he prepares for next month's UCI mountain bike world championships in Switzerland.

    The South Australian has decided to contest the 75km Epic marathon, which will be held around Old Hidden Vale in the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane on August 7.

    Race organizer Peter Creagh, of Tailwind Promotions, said the 32-year-old Adelaide-based rider had been a tremendous supporter of Australia's richest mountain bike event.

    "The Epic and Chris have been good for one another and he is a two-time winner of the event," Creagh said.

    "Chris has had some difficult times in recent years, but he has made a great return to elite level cross country mountain biking and has been rewarded with a place in the Australian team for the Worlds in Champery from August 31 to September 4.

    "He is using the Epic for preparation and we are pleased to have him back again."

    Jongewaard should be in a three-way battle for the men's race with last year's winner Adrian Jackson of Victoria and Shaun Lewis from the Australian Capital Territory.

    More than 1200 riders are expected to compete in the ninth staging of the Epic over the weekend of August 6-7.

    This year's event will start and finish at Spicers Hidden Vale and the Epic will cover 75km instead of the traditional 104km because of damage to the normal course during the January floods.

    The Epic weekend includes the 99 Bikes Mini and Minor Epics where children can ride with their parents as well as the 30km Spicers Chase cross country race and the 50km Merida Pursuit half marathon.

    For more information on the event, visit

  • Iceman Cometh secures new title sponsor

    Brian Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek) leads Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt) through the singletrack. Photo by Niki Frazier.
    Article published:
    August 05, 2011, 16:24 BST
    Cycling News

    Bell's Beer lends name to popular season-ending MTB race

    The promoters of the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race announced a new title sponsor for the 2011 edition of the race: Bell's Brewery, the largest craft brewery based in Michigan. This year's race, called the Bell's Beer Iceman Cometh, will take place on Saturday, November 5.

    The 29-mile race takes riders from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan. The course passes through the hardwood forests, meadows, and cross country ski trails of the Pere Marquette State Forest.

    "Bell's is thrilled to lend its name to this season-ending, iconic, Michigan race and is excited to continue its long standing policy of supporting cycling in the Great Lakes region," said Larry J. Bell, President and Founder of Bell's Brewery, Inc. based in Comstock, Michigan.

    "Iceman is unique due to the unpredictable weather that occurs in Northern Michigan during November. It could be 55 degrees (Fahrenheit) and sunny or it could be 20 degrees and snowy like it was last year," said Bell.

    Iceman events will welcome athletes from two to 72 years old from 38 different states. An estimated 7,500 spectators will line the course to catch the excitement as the competitors roll along the trail.'

    "Iceman Promotions, Inc. is absolutely thrilled to have a Michigan-based company with the quality reputation of Bell's Beer as the title sponsor of the Iceman," said Steve Brown, Event Director. "Since the Bell's Beer Iceman is the 'unofficial' end of the riding season, the post-race celebration, featuring Bell's Beer, is as important as the race itself for most of the riders!

    The Bell's Beer Iceman weekend will kick off with the Ice Cycle Expo on Friday, November 4, from 12 noon until 9:00 pm at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. In addition to the Bell's Beer Iceman, the Meijer Slush Cup features a half-frozen eight-mile event for beginning racers, and the Meijer Sno-Cone event, for riders under the age of 12, offers a chance for future world champions to...

  • Gwin makes World Cup history

    World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing)
    Article published:
    August 08, 2011, 19:07 BST
    Cycling News

    American secures overall downhill title in La Bresse

    Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) made history yesterday in France by becoming the first ever American man to win the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup title, a fact that will be made official in two weeks' time when Gwin stands atop the overall World Cup podium in Val di Sole, Italy, to receive the prized crystal trophy.

    The 23-year-old Gwin finished third in the La Bresse World Cup round after Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Gee Atherton (Commencal). One round remains in the downhill World Cup series, but Gwin has the title locked up.

    Overnight rain changed conditions from those experienced in qualifying, but the rain stopped in time for the finals, and the course started to dry although it wasn't nearly as fast as in qualifying.

    For Gwin, this race was as important as any other and he wanted to win, but a top eight placing would be enough the take the overall World Cup title with one race remaining, something that hasn't been done since 2000.

    Gwin made an error in the top third of the course and then had some other hook ups further down the course, resulting in a growing loss of time and eventually putting him into third place. He was disappointed with his run.

    "It's obviously and sincerely a huge honor to win the overall World Cup title, amazing honestly, but any racer out there will know that it always feel better when you take something like that with a run you're proud of," said Gwin.

    "I made some mistakes today that cost me the win, and that's frustrating. Any one of my practice runs would have been better than that, but hats off to Greg, he rode super strong today and deserves to take the win. The overall is a huge honor and I look forward to lifting that trophy...

  • US selects 51 riders for mountain bike Worlds

    Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) winning in front of her home town crowd
    Article published:
    August 08, 2011, 22:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Elite, U23 and junior teams heading to Switzerland

    USA Cycling announced its full contingent which will represent the country at the upcoming UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland from August 29 - September 4.

    The country will send seven men and seven women for the elite cross country events, 12 riders in the U23 and junior cross country events, 18 downhillers, six four cross racers and one trials rider.

    US elite men's cross country national champion Todd Wells (Specialized) is an automatic nomination, along with Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek), Adam Craig (Giant) and Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek). Discretionary selections were Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing), Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) and Spencer Paxson (Kona Bicycles).

    Five women earned automatic bids including US cross country national champion Georgia Gould (Luna), Katie Compton (RaboBank-Giant), Lea Davison (Specialized), Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek), and Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes). Judy Freeman (Kenda-Felt MTB) and Krista Park (Cannondale-No Tubes) will join them as discretionary selections.

    Aaron Gwin (Trek), winner of five World Cup downhill races earned an automatic nomination, as did USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Gravity Tour leader Cody Warren (DRD X-Fusion Intense).

    Jacqueline Harmony (All Mountain Cyclery-Vixen Racing) and Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash./RedBull-Transition Racing) will lead the women's downhill squad.

    The women's four cross squad will be headed up by Melissa Buhl (KHS), a silver medalist in two World Cups and currently the sixth-ranked rider on the UCI's World Cup four cross rankings.

    US Team for the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

    Elite men cross country
    Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale)
    Mike Broderick (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes)
    Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant)
    Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek)
    Spencer Paxson (Kona Bicycles)
    Sam Schultz...

  • Jongewaard returns to Milka-Trek Team

    Chris Jongewaard descends a tricky part of the course as he heads towards another victory.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2011, 0:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Olympic ambitions for Australian mountain biker

    Mountain biker Chris Jongewaard will again ride for the team managed by Bart Brentjens. The 32-year-old Australian cross country national champion has signed for Milka-Trek. He previously rode for the team in 2009.

    "When I founded the team in 2009, Chris was one of our riders," said Brentjens. "It was good working with him and he had some great results that year (13th at the Offenburg World Cup, a stage win and second overall at the Cape Epic, 15th at world championships)."

    "Unfortunately he had to stop his cycling career immediately due to private reasons. It feels very good that we can go on working together where we started in 2009. Chris won the national title this year and he has proven to be back in his old level. His motivation is not 100 percent, but 200 percent, and I am sure he can get more good results in upcoming races."

    "I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to pick up where I left off in 2009," said Jongewaard, "and I am aiming to secure a spot in the London 2012 Olympic Games. I am super excited and motivated about rejoining Brentjens' team and can't wait to be back in Europe racing with such a professionally run team achieving great things."

    Jongewaard lives in Adelaide, Australia, and his goal for 2011 has been to climb back up the international ranks. He reclaimed the green and gold stripes of the national champion's jersey after winning the title earlier this year in January. He described it as "an emotional victory" and dedicated it to those that stood by him in challenging times.

    Those tough times included him being sentenced to nine months in jail over a hit-and-run incident involving former Australian representative rider Matthew Rex in 2007, which left...

  • Jonnier among the favorites at Pila downhill

    Sabrina Jonnier (Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain) finished 3rd.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2011, 16:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Penultimate round of iXS European Downhill Cup this weekend

    The penultimate round of the iXS European Downhill Cup is coming up this weekend in Pila, Italy. Over 300 racers will be at the start of the 2.6km course, including top riders like Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis/Rocky Mountain), who was able to take third place at the World Cup event in La Bresse last weekend.

    After missing out on the last iXS European Downhill Cup round in Spicák, Harriet Rücknagel (OnTheEdge), the reigning German champion, will again be a contender for a spot on the women's podium.

    And it goes without saying that the largest category, the elite men, is packed with top international downhill sport celebreties. Markus Pekoll (MS Evil) and Joshua Button (SC-Intense) will be continuing their duel for mastery of the overall rankings. Nejk Rutar (Unior Tools), Benny Strasser (Mag41) and Adam Vagner (RockMashine) also want to get onto the podium for the overall class rankings, however, they are sure to find it tough to snatch many points.

    They will all be up against big names such as Lorenzo Suding (Pila-Black Arrows), Lewis Buchanan (Chain Reaction), Ben Cathro ( or Matti Lehikoinen (Chain Reaction) and Ruaridh Cunningham (Maxxis/Rocky Mountain), to mention but a few favorites.