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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Date published:
January 22, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Sheppard signs with Toka Print team

    Samara Sheppard in action in the under 23 World Cup last year.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 17:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Kiwi mountain biker joins new European professional team

    Leading New Zealand female mountain biker Samara Sheppard has signed for the new UCI trade team Toka Print Mountain Bike in Europe for this year.

    "The opportunity for me is huge. I have been fortunate to have been part of the Wheelers IXS team for the past two years, but this is a big step up in terms of support," Sheppard said.

    Sheppard, who moves from the U23 to the elite ranks of the UCI World Cup this year, is the only non-European rider in the team which will be based in Belgium. The 22-year-old Wellington rider enjoyed a strong year in 2012 while based in Europe.

    The Wellington rider hopes to be based in the proposed BikeNZ training base in Belgium and will be further supported with her coach Filip Meirhaeghe, a former Olympic mountain bike medallist who has taken on in a coaching role with the team.

    "This team began last year but has taken a big jump this year as a UCI Trade Team and want to be the best mountain bike team in Belgium," Sheppard said.

    "The team is putting a huge amount of resource into this infrastructure around the riders and they seem to have thought of every detail. They have even booked me into language classes as the rest of the team all speak Flemish. All I have to do is focus on riding and not dealing with the day-to-day challenges of living in a non-English speaking country.

    "In New Zealand, we have a great breeding ground for mountain bikers with brilliant trail networks and development programmes like Waiariki's Academy of Sport, where I came through the ranks. This environment is definitely strengthening our talent pool here, but for now the reality is that there are not many opportunities out there especially for young female mountain bike riders, so I am really thrilled to be part of this professional team."

    Sheppard enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2012 with her first UCI World Cup victory at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada, as well as third in La Bresse, while she placed 12th...

  • Australian Mountain Bike National Series begins at Buller

    Andrew Blair finishing in the top four to add more points to his overall standing in the National Series.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 17:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Hill, Buchanan, Blair and King among the favorites to compete this weekend

    Australia's best cross country and downhill mountain bikers will descend on Mt Buller on January 18-20 for the opening round of the 2013 Subaru Mountain Bike National Series.

    Competitors will tackle Mt Buller's challenging terrain over a number of stages across two disciplines including downhill and cross country, with many riders testing their skills in new disciplines or honing their skills ahead of the 2013 Australian and Oceania Championships.

    Gravity Cup

    Former triple world champion Sam Hill will headline the downhill ranks alongside senior debutant Connor Fearon and New South Wales elite trio of Brendan Moon, Jack Moir and Graeme Mudd.

    The female gravity ranks include BMX Olympian Caroline Buchanan, who is making her downhill debut. The Canberran is looking to transfer her 2010 national four cross title to the gravity discipline.

    Buchanan will line up against 2004 cross country Olympian Lisa Mathison, who last year made the crossover to downhill, finishing with an overall Gravity Cup series bronze medal.

    2012 Gravity Cup Series champions Troy Brosnan and Tracey Hannah are notable absences from round one. Brosnan, 19, is recovering from a training crash but will be on hand for expert downhill commentary on Sunday, January 20.

    All Mountain Cup

    All Mountain Cup reigning champion Andrew Blair will be back to defend his title with Sid Taberlay looking to go one better than his 2012 runner-up result.

    Chris Jongewaard will look to set up his international season with some strong riding while young gun Luke Fetch will compete in the All Mountain Cup elite ranks for the first time after successfully transferring his mountain biking skills to the road in 2012.

    Seeded first, Swiss rider Nathalie Schneitter has landed in Australia for her season, ready to go head-to-head with defending...

  • Superwoman Steyn returns for her 10th Cape Epic

    Former winner Hannele Steyn will be attempting her 10th Cape Epic in 2013
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 17:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former winner looks forward to becoming first woman to do 10 editions

    Business owner Hannele Steyn is preparing herself for the 10th edition of the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race on March 17-24. The 46-year-old has competed in every Cape Epic race since the inaugural edition in 2004 and hopes to become the first woman to do 10 Cape Epics.

    Steyn will be racing with good friend Kenny Scheepers on the Chris Willemse/Passion4Wholeness team this year.

    "I've done all nine Cape Epics to date, and 10 years are quite a long time out of someone's life, but looking back, it was all worth it. Every hour spent training, every tear shed, every drop of sweat and every bit of pain just contributed to me becoming a better person and facing life's challenges a little easier," said Steyn. "I've seen some of the most beautiful places in our country in a way few people have seen it. It's given me many fantastic friends and taught me a lot about facing various difficulties."

    "Crossing the finish line on the last day is the best part of my Cape Epic experience. The worst part is the nerves when you race for podium, the selfishness that you have to have when you prepare for racing and not just finishing it. Others include any mechanical problems, falls or illnesses. In 2011, I became ill during the Cape Epic, and this made it the toughest edition of the race so far."  Steyn has used her strong climbing ability to help her through previous editions.

    According to Steyn, the most important ingredient to a successful race is getting in the mileage. "The first stage is always the most difficult for me. The Cape Epic is a life experience. There are no words to describe the feeling of crossing the finish line, and only the ones who have crossed that line will understand the feeling, but it's a feeling of pride. Don't under-estimate the Epic - train hard!"

    Steyn started mountain biking in 1997. "Every year has its own highs and lows, but...

  • European marathon championship does double duty

    Leading group at last years German National Marathon Championships at Rothaus Hegau Bike-Marathon
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 20:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Rothaus Hegau Bike-Marathon hosts 2013 championships and is part of World Series

    The Rothaus Hegau Bike Marathon in Singen, Germany will serve as the 2013 European Marathon Championships. Also a round of the UCI Marathon World Series, the race is doubling as a qualifier for marathon Worlds.

    Because marathon Worlds are early this season - in Kirchberg, Austria on June 29 - there are only six UCI World Series events prior to the world championships and therefore not many chances to qualify for Worlds.

    Organizers say that having their event be part of the UCI World Series is a big deal, but that it won't change their plans to put on the race. The course will still cover 94km for the men and 75km for the women. The top 20 finishers automatically qualify for Worlds. They also get points toward the World Series rankings, which end one week before Worlds. The top 50 men and 20 women in the World Series will get a ticket to compete in Worlds.

    Because the race is doing double duty as the European championships and a part of the Marathon World Series, racers from all over the world can compete, not just Europeans.

    The UCI Marathon World Series will kick off its 18 events for 2013 at the Sabie Classic in South Africa.

  • Langvad joins forces with Team Davinci-Specialized

    Annika Langvad wins the marathon Worlds in 2012
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 18:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Marathon world champion aims for a chance at road Worlds time trial

    Annika Langvad signed with Team Davinci-Specialized for the 2013 following two seasons of racing for Team Fujibikes Rockets. Davinci-Specialized is a small Danish team partnered with Specialized Nordic.

    "I gained a lot of experience riding for Team Fujibikes Rockets, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to be part of a small Danish team, which is based right in my neighborhood," said Langvad. "I have found a comfortable environment here."

    "The team has a good structure, where I can have a strong impact," said Langvad, who is looking forward to having extra support at the races. "There is good chemistry among the team members."

    Langvad, a two-time marathon world champion, is hoping to learn from the experience of Davinci-Specialized Team Manager Lennie Kristensen, a former European champion, Tour VTT winner and podium regular on the mountain bike scene in the 90s. He also raced on the road with Team CSC from 2000 to 2004.

    In addition to being the current marathon world champion, Langvad's other major results include finishing twice on the World Cup podium, once in second place at Dalby Forest and once in third place in Windham, both in 2011.

    Langvad had a difficult 2012 in which she injured herself and had to sit out the Olympic Games. "I only started racing mountain bikes in 2008. Before that, I didn't do anything remotely related to sports at the level I'm at now. Things went really fast, and I now realize that 2011 was a dream season where nothing could go wrong. In 2012, I faced several broken ribs and was not able to compete at the Olympic Games."

    "All the sudden, 2012 was a year where things were completely upside down and I struggled....

  • Platt keeps alive streak of Cape Epic perfect attendance

    Karl Platt of the Bulls celebrates after winning the 2nd stage during stage 2 of the 2012 Cape Epic
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 19:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Four-time winner will partner with Huber

    Karl Platt, four-time winner of the Absa Cape Epic, will return for the 10th edition of the 698km mountain bike stage race, which will take place from March 17 to 24. The German is hoping to keep alive his streak of perfect attendance after having finished the first nine editions.

    "I've participated in all the Cape Epics since its inception. It has become a unique race over the years and a huge part of my career, but the main thing is that I love to race it!" said Platt. "In the nine years of riding the Cape Epic, I got smarter but not younger. Honestly, I think there are lots of stories I can share. It's a lifetime experience."

    Platt won the race in 2004 with Mannie Heymans and in 2007, 2009 and 2010 with Stefan Sahm. He has also been two-time German marathon champion and won the Trans Alp seven times. His other victories include the Trans Rockies, the Trans Germany, the Trans Schwarzwald, the Sabie Classic and the Tour de Langkawi.

    This year, he will race the Cape Epic with Crocodile Trophy winner Urs Huber.

    Platt said that his experience seems to be "to suffer every year and then forget about it again. There are so many memorable experiences. We'll need to sit down with a nice bottle of wine to get through all of them."

    His toughest edition was in 2009, when he dislocated his shoulder on the first day, and then again later in the race. "But they’re all tough! The best part of any race is to win it, of course. And the worst part is getting up at 5:00 am. I’m really not a morning person and very grumpy."

    Platt feels that his biggest strength on a mountain bike is that he still manages to have fun under pressure. The one word that sums up the event for him is "vollekanonne". He said that patience and endurance are the to most important ingredients to finishing the race....

  • Trek World Racing signs MacDonald and Brannigan

    George Brannigan and Brook MacDonald
    Article published:
    January 21, 2013, 21:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Full roster announced for 2013

    Trek World Racing announced its line-up for this 2013 season including World Cup podium riders and up-and-coming talent. The Kiwi duo of Brook MacDonald and George Brannigan headline the team.

    MacDonald is the 2009 junior world champion and has scored his first World Cup win in 2012 at round 6 in Val d'Isere, France, bringing his World Cup podium tally to four so far.

    "Being on Trek World Racing represents a fresh start for me, and I'm looking forward to all the new things I'll experience," said MacDonald. "I'm really excited to be joining this team for the next three seasons and working with my new teammates and new bikes."

    Brannigan had his first taste of the World Cup podium when he finished second at round 7 last year in Hafjell, Norway, just missing the win by 0.4 seconds. His current UCI world ranking of number 9 is a testament to his 2012 season of consistent results.

    "I'm so excited to be a part of Trek World Racing," said Brannigan. "This feels like the opportunity I need to improve my results and still be consistent. I know any team run by 23 Degrees has produced real talent, and I want to make the most of this opportunity to get where I want to be. The group of teammates will be great and Im sure the support will be top notch. I cant wait for this season!"

    MacDonald and Brannigan join American Neko Mulally, who is entering his fourth year with the program, and his second as an elite rider. Last year was Mulally's most successful year to date. He broke into the World Cup top 15 and is knocking on the door of the top 10. Even though he is still the youngest rider on the program, turning 20 next month, he carries a wealth of experience for his age as he enters the new season.


  • Sauser and Kulhavy team up for Cape Epic

    Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander winning the 2012 Cape Epic
    Article published:
    January 22, 2013, 14:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pair to ride in memory of Specialized teammate Stander

    Specialized Racing confirmed that defending Cape Epic champion Christoph Sauser will be partnering with 2012 Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy for this year's race as previously reported on Cyclingnews. The pair will be riding in memory of Burry Stander, Sauser's teammate last year at the mountain bike stage race. Stander was hit by a car and killed while training on his bike in South Africa in early January.

    "Nobody can replace Burry, because we all have individual personalities! I am so fortunate that Jaro can fill in the big gap for Burry at the Cape Epic," said Sauser. "We cannot wait to race our hearts out for Burry, his family, friends, his foundation Songo and ourselves too. It will be my most emotional Cape Epic ever."

    Sauser is fresh off winning the Attakwas Extreme Challenge this weekend, a marathon victory he dedicated to Sauser.

    2013 will mark Kulhavy's first appearance at the legendary eight-day stage race across South Africa. "I was called by teammate Christoph Sauser, who asked that we partner up and ride this great race in Burry's honor," said Kulhavy. "I now want to win this race more than ever in memory of my teammate and good friend, Burry."

    Specialized S-Racing Team director David Hyam followed Sauser's comments with further support. "The experience of Christoph combined with the immense power and strength of Kulhavy provides a formidable force which will be hard to beat," said Hyam.

    "Under such tragic circumstances with the recent loss of one of our teammates, this has only solidified and...