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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Date published:
January 03, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Leadville Trail Qualifiers announced for 2012 season

    Top three men at the Leadville 100: Alban Lakata (2nd), Todd Wells (1st), Alex Grant (3rd)
    Article published:
    December 23, 2011, 18:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Six events set for locations throughout United States

    Organizers of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race announced which six events will serve as qualifiers in 2012. The popular 100-miler, held at altitude mostly on dirt roads in and around Leadville, Colorado, is historically tough to enter.

    For many years, racers have had to win the Leadville registration lottery to secure their spots, but in 2011, race owner Lifetime Fitness, Inc. created a qualifier system. Solo racers who perform well at the qualifiers can earn entry into the Leadville 100 without having to play the registration lottery.

    Qualifiers for 2012 will begin in Austin on April 21. For a complete schedule, see below.

    The 2012 Leadville 100 will be held on August 11. The race historically draws some top cycling stars - sometimes roadies, sometimes cross country mountain bike racers and of course, marathon mountain bike racers. Defending champion Todd Wells (Specialized) is likely hoping he won't be able to return to defend his title as the 2012 London Olympic Games are being held the same weekend. Wells has been named to the US Olympic Mountain Bike Long Team.  No such conflict should arise for defending women's champion, Rebecca Rusch (Specialized), who is not chasing a spot on the US Olympic Mountain Bike Team.

    Racers who qualify at the first five 2012 Leadville Qualifier Series events may elect to race in the Leadville Trail 100 for 2012 or defer until 2013. The final qualifier in Crested Butte will occur after the 2012 Leadville 100, so qualifiers at that event will have their qualification carried forward into 2013.


  • USA Cycling announces 2012 Pro Ultra Endurance Tour

    Manny Prado (Sho-Air/Specialized)
    Article published:
    December 26, 2011, 17:09 GMT
    Cycling News

    Five events planned in four states

    USA Cycling announced the dates and locations for its 2012 Pro Mountain Bike Ultra Endurance Tour (Pro UET). The US Pro UET recognizes the best competitors in six-hour, 24-hour, marathon and ultra-marathon mountain bike competitions across the United States.

    The calendar will begin on March 10 with the Spa City 6-Hour Mountain Bike Race in Hot Springs, Arkansas, before making two consecutive stops in California. The first stop in California will be in Lake Morena for the Sagebrush Safari 50 on May 20 before continuing with the Big Bear 50 in Big Bear Lake on June 3. The calendar's penultimate date will be June 30 for the Galena Grinder Whit Henry Memorial in Galena Lodge, Idaho, which will serve as a kickoff to the 2012 US Cross Country National Championships in Ketchum, Idaho, from July 5-8. The Pro UET will conclude on July 21 with 12 Hours of Snowmass in Snowmass, Colorado.

    In 2011, Manuel Prado (Team Sho-air) topped the men's standings while Pua Mata (Team Sho-air) won three of four events to top the women's standings.

    2012 US Pro UET
    March 10: Spa City 6-Hour Mountain Bike Race, Hot Springs, Arkansas
    May 20: Sagebrush Safari 50, Lake Morena, California
    June 3: Big Bear 50, Big Bear Lake, California
    June 30: Galena Grinder Whit Henry Memorial, Galena Lodge, Idaho
    July 21: 12 Hours of Snowmass, Snowmass, Colorado

    USA Cycling previously announced the dates and venues for the 2012 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT).

    For more details on the US Pro UET, visit

  • Hermida and Dahle Flesjå celebrate successful year

    Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå and her son Bjornar after she won the 2011 European championships.
    Article published:
    December 26, 2011, 19:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    Multivan Merida team reflects on 2011 season

    Multivan Merida's José Hermida and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå both had a successful and consistent 2011 season. Along with their teammates, Ralph Näf, Rudi van Houts, Jochen Käß, Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler, they helped the squad back into the world's top-three ranked teams.

    For much of the season, Hermida wore the rainbow stripes of defending world champion until he finished fourth at the 2011 Worlds. He was also fourth overall in the World Cup. For the past nine years, the Spaniard has been ranked in the top five at the end of the season. For 2012, Hermida is shifting his focus to the London Olympic Games. Having already won a silver medal at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Hermida is eyeing the gold in London.

    Dahle Flesjå, who was voted by readers as Cyclingnews' female mountain biker of the year, returned to the world's elite ranks with strong performances in 2011. She surprised many by winning the European cross country championships in August ahead of the then-reigning world champion Maja Wloszczowska. Shortly after, she returned to World Cup podiums, finishing in third and fourth, respectively. And her sixth-place finish at Champéry's world championships was a further confirmation of her return among the best...

  • Annie Last signs for Brentjens' second UCI MTB trade team

    British racer Annie Last
    Article published:
    January 02, 2012, 15:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Milka-Brentjens team created to support rising British star

    British cross country racer Annie Last signed with the Milka-Brentjens MTB Racing Team, a new second UCI mountain bike trade team started by Bart Brentjens for this season.

    "I am very happy to start working with Annie Last in 2012. She has a great relationship with Boardman Bikes and because of this, I decided to start a second UCI Trade Team so she can continue to ride on Boardman bikes in 2012," said Brentjens, who already runs the Milka-Superior MTB team (formerly known as the Milka-Trek MTB team in 2011).

    "Annie Last is a promising talent. Her best result this year in the World Cup was sixth in Nove Mesto, Czech, an extraordinary result considering her young age. In 2012, her focus will be the Olympic Games in London in August. I think she can have a good result there!"

    This team will give Last the opportunity to continue to use Boardman bikes in 2012. Boardman Bikes is a long term personal sponsor of Last. The other main sponsor of the her new team is Milka.  Brentjens' other team is racing Superior bicycle frames in 2012.

    The 21-year-old Last finished second at the 2011 Under 23 European and world championships.

    "I am looking forward to working with Bart Brentjens and his team. They have got a huge amount of experience about performing at the highest level in the sport, and they have presented me with an exciting opportunity to be part of the Milka Brentjens MTB Racing Team. I will continue to be sponsored by Boardman bikes, who will be supplying me with my bikes for the 2012 season. I am happy to take my relationship with Boardman bikes forward with me into my new Milka Brentjens team."

    In 2012, Last is focusing on the Olympic Games and the world championships.

    Last lives in...

  • Koerber Rockwell becomes a mom

    Willow Koerber (Trek World Racing)
    Article published:
    January 02, 2012, 18:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike pro gives birth

    Elite cross country racer Willow Koerber Rockwell celebrated New Year's Eve with the birth of her first child. A daughter, named Raven Starr Rockwell, was born on December 31.

    Rockwell, a pro with Trek World Racing, has previously said she will make her racing comeback during the 2012 season.

    She found out she was pregnant just prior to the opening 2011 World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in April. During her pregnancy, she sat out the 2011 season and also married her sweetheart, former downhill world champion Miles Rockwell.

    After a stellar previous season, Rockwell was voted Cyclingnews' female mountain biker of the year at the end of 2010.

    Rockwell is one of a few female mountain bike pros to have a baby during her elite career. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) did the same a few years ago and is back to competing among the best women in the world.

    Cyclingnews offers its congratulations to the Rockwell family.

  • Pendrel and Smith honored for 2011 accomplishments

    Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) on her way to a convincing victory in Fontana, California
    Article published:
    January 02, 2012, 20:53 GMT
    Rob Jones

    Mountain bikers win Canadian Cyclist of the Year awards

    Mountain bike athletes dominated the 2011 Canadian Cyclist of the Year awards, with world champion Catharine Pendrel taking two awards and downhill World Cup professional Steve Smith earning the men's title. The 15th annual edition of the awards set new records for voting, and some of the closest finishes in history, as cycling enthusiasts from across Canada and around the world voted for their favourite Canadian cyclists across multiple cycling disciplines.

    Pendrel, who won the cross country world championship title in September, in Champery, Switzerland, as well as three World Cup events, consistently led voting for the female rider of the year award, but was closely followed throughout the two weeks the ballots were open by track omnium world champion Tara Whitten. Pendrel took 43.1 percent of first place ballots cast. Pendrel also took top honours in polling for the best individual performance of the year, winning for her world championship ride. Time trial national champion Clara Hughes finished third in the balloting.

    From her home in Kamloops, where she is taking a brief hiatus before beginning preparations for the 2012 London Olympic Games, Pendrel responded to news of her Canadian Cyclist Awards and said, "It is quite an honour to be chosen for these awards. There are a lot of people that were key to my 'Best Individual Performance' at Worlds, so a huge thanks to my coach Dan [Proulx], husband Keith, Team Luna and Team Canada for believing and supporting me to the top. Happy New Year!"

    In the male rider of the year, Tour de France competitor Ryder Hesjedal led for much of the polling, however, a late surge by the downhill mountain bike community worldwide put Smith over the top, to become the first ever downhill athlete to win a Canadian...

  • Prado retires from pro ranks

    Costa Rican Manny Prado hikes with his bike.
    Article published:
    January 03, 2012, 5:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    La Ruta winner looks to his future

    Mountain biker Manuel "Manny" Prado (Sho-Air/Specialized) announced his retirement from pro cycling according to on Monday. Prado won La Ruta de los Conquistadores in 2009; he was the first rider to do so on a full suspension bike (a 26-inch Specialized Epic).

    That same season, he also won the Costa Rican cross country national title. In 2008, he finished third at the Leadville 100, coming after Lance Armstrong.

    "The time has come for me to focus on other stuff, including school and my family back in Costa Rica," said Prado, who lived and raced for a time in the United States.  Most recently, he won the 2011 US Pro Ultra Endurance Tour overall series.

    The decision came after Prado told Cyclingnews just before the 2011 La Ruta a few months ago, "This year, I've done things differently. I'm thinking about the future more. I'm back in Costa Rica and going to school. I'm doing some work on the side to subsidize my income. I'm taking care of my family."

    In his retirement, Prado will continue to race for fun.

  • Six rounds comprise 2012 British Downhill Series

    A racer in the British Downhill Series
    Article published:
    January 03, 2012, 15:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Registration opens for popular series

    The 2012 Halo British Downhill Series will include two stops in Scotland, two in Wales and two in England, and will give racers a chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Steve Peat, Danny Hart, Gee Atherton, Brendan Fairclough, Marc Beaumont, Josh Bryceland and Alex Bond. 2012 is the first time that the rounds are evenly distributed among the three regions.

    The series has proved so popular that it sold out 60 hours after registration opened in 2011, and organizers have lifted the entry criteria for 2012 to 100 British Cycling points as well as added an extra round to the calendar.

    All six national series races are UCI category 2 ranked events except for Caersws. Each round will include practice all day Saturday and Sunday morning plus qualifying and one race run on Sunday afternoon.

    2012 British Downhill Series
    April 14-15: Round 1 - Combe Sydenham, South West of England
    May 12-13: Round 2 - Fort William, Scotland
    July 7-8: Round 3 - Glencoe, Scotland
    August 4-5: Round 4 - Caersws, Mid Wales
    August 25-26: Round 5 - Bringewood, Ludlow, England
    September 22-23: Round 6 - Llangollen, Mid Wales

    The British Downhill National Championships will be run on July 21-22 in Moelfre, Mid Wales.

    Registration for the British Downhill Series went live on Tuesday via the British Cycling website. If spots remain come February, the points criteria will be lowered to 1 point.

    For more information on the series, visit