Plenty of strong, young talent picked to head to Austria
New Zealand will boast arguably its strongest team across the board in recent memory for September's UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
Mountain Bike New Zealand has named a short list squad for the championships to be held in Austria in August-September. The downhill and four cross will be staged at Leogang from August 31 to September 2 with the cross country and trials at Saalfelden from September 6 to 9.
The initial New Zealand long list has been whittled down to 24 confirmed selections with a further 10 riders selected pending further confirming results. Five selected riders have taken up the option to defer attendance this year as they focus on a longer term campaign next year.
The short list squad comprises 15 riders currently ranked in the top 30 in the world.
It's led by the powerful group of New Zealand downhill riders, with five currently in the top 20 on UCI world rankings. Hawkes Bay rider Brook Macdonald (MS Mondraker), 20 is ranked fourth; national champion Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) is at rank number 10, while Wellington's Sarah Atkin is 16th in the women's rankings.
In cross country, Whakatane's Karen Hanlen and Wellington's Rosara Joseph (Rabobank) are 23rd and 27th respectively on world standings.
Wellington's Samara Sheppard is sixth among under 23 riders and 54th overall in the elite women's rankings while outstanding North Canterbury prospect Anton Cooper (Trek World Racing) is seventh among the junior men.
"The quality at the top end of our sport in both downhill and cross country is probably stronger than it has ever been," said Andrea Murray, Performance Director, Mountain Bike NZ.
"They include not only some of our experienced professionals but some outstanding young prospects given that Brook Macdonald is just 20, Anton Cooper is 17 and Samara Sheppard only 22.
"It is very exciting that we have a number of young riders in the sport and the focus is on...
IMBA announced the 2012 winners for two grant programs, sponsored by Clif Bar and HucknRoll.
The Clif Bar $500 crash grants go to IMBA-affiliated chapters and clubs for projects that promote environmental education and inspire conservation in the mountain biking community.
The HucknRoll $700 trail improvement grants support projects that maintain and improve the sustainability of local trails, preserve the environment and enhance conservation in the mountain bicycling community.
2012 Clif Bar grant winners Northern Alleghenies MBA (Pennsylvania) Southern MD Mountain Bikers (Maryland) Eastern Shore IMBA (Maryland) Roanoke IMBA (Virginia) Cycle CNY (New York) Boise Area MBA (Idaho) Midlands SORBA (South Carolina) Flagler Area Bicyclists (Florida) Capitol Off Road Pedalers (Wisconsin) Wooly Bike Club (Wisconsin)
2012 HucknRoll grant winners The Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association (California) Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (Michigan) Northwest Trail Alliance (Oregon) Santa Fe Fat Tire Society (New Mexico)
Fort William is a classic stop on the World Cup tour and the mixed weather and rider fortunes meant it was again a race with drama and varying luck for the top riders. Championship contenders Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) had qualifying runs they weren't completely happy with Minnaar finishing seventh, and Gwin scoring no points after having two crashes due to front wheel washouts.
Gwin felt that he chose the wrong tire for the conditions on Saturday and was disappointed to concede 18 points to Minnaar, but the main points were up for grabs in the finals on Sunday.
Because of the qualifying result, Gwin started earlier than the main contenders and took the hotseat with a time of 4:48. It was difficult to know if this time would hold for the next hour as the top 20 men came down the hill, or would they push towards Marc Beaumont's qualifier of 4:42.
The lead started to whittle away and was down to three seconds when Danny Hart (Giant) took to the track and got the gap down to 0.6 seconds. With Minnaar crossing the line with a drivetrain mechanical and eventually finishing sixth, it was up to the final two riders from Team GT to knock Gwin from the hotseat, which eventually did not happen.
Gwin took his seventh World Cup win out of 10 starts for Trek World Racing (and a 100 percent podium success rate), with Hart second and Gee Atherton (GT) third. Gwin's World Cup lead is now 85 points.
"I just rode a smooth run. It was hard to judge, but all I knew was that it needed to be smooth. It was pretty nerve-wracking watching all the big guys coming down,...
Cycling Canada unveiled the list of athletes who have qualified for the 2012 Olympic Selection Pool for Mountain Bike, a short-list group of riders from which the 2012 Canadian Olympic Cycling Team will be drawn from.
"The Canadian mountain bike program has developed significantly over the past four years. We have exceptional riders on both the men's and women's side of the program. It's an exciting time for our sport with several riders set to continue Canada's rich tradition of success," said Dan Proulx, Head Coach of the Canadian Mountain Bike Team on Sunday.
Through the UCI Qualification process, Canada qualified two spots for the men's Olympic cross country race and two spots for the women's Olympic cross country race.
Athletes in the Olympic selection pool have all qualified as a result of their performances since the UCI Qualification Window has been opened. As per the approved Selection guidelines, the High Performance advisory committee of Cycling Canada, comprised of many specialists, will gather and proceed with the selection of athletes who will be nominated to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team to represent Canada at the upcoming Olympic Games in London, United Kingdom.
The list of nominated athletes to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team will be announced on June 20 at the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec.
Olympic Selection Pool - Mountain Bike, Women Catharine Pendrel (Team Luna Pro) Emily Batty (Team Subaru-Trek) Marie-Hélène Prémont (Team Rocky Mountain Bicycles) Catharine Vipond (Team Norco Factory Team) Jean-Ann Berkenpas (Team Xprezo-Borsao) Amanda Sin (Team Scott-3RoxRacing) Sandra Walter (Team Xprezo-Borsao)
Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) had been looking forward to racing the European Cross Country Championships in her home nation of Russia on Sunday, but the race did not go according to plan. Pouring rain and technical problems came to define the race in Moscow this past weekend. Representing Russia, Kalentieva was not spared its wrath.
The women's race took place in some of the most extreme, wet conditions imaginable and some likened the conditions to those raced at 2002 Worlds in Kaprun, Austria and at the 2009 World Cup in Bromont, Canada. Pouring rain turned the 4.1km course into a huge mud bath, with the addition of lots of sand, and resulting in clogged bicycles. Because of this, the race resembled a killing field for bikes. Technical defects were the order of the day for almost everyone taking part. Kalentieva suffered as components were defeated by the conditions.
The race started well, as the two-time former world champion found herself in a good position in a lead group of five riders made up of nearly all of the favourites. After the eventual winner, Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) managed to pull away at the end of the second lap, Kalentieva was part of a four person chasing group, fighting for the remaining medals.
However, the second lap was also when problems with braking started to plague her, then the mud made shifting impossible. "The cassette was just completely blocked. I couldn't change gears," said Kalentieva. On the fourth lap, she stopped in the feed zone and tried, together with the team mechanic Lars, to get everything working again, unfortunately without success.
Riding the final lap, Kalentieva had a bike virtually without brakes, and which was restricted to one...
The United Kingdom is getting a UK Mountain Biking Hall of Fame, or UK MTB Hall of Fame as it will be known, according to the Pacific Edge Events, which is creating it. The company also owns the UK's first and longest running 24-hour mountain bike endurance event.
"We have created the UK MTB Hall of Fame as a way of showing respect for everyone in the mountain bike industry, be they riders or people connected in other ways. There has been talk in the past in the mountain bike world about a Hall of Fame, but for one reason or another it has never come to fruition. My business partner, Jill Greenfield and I decided it was time to change that," said Patrick Adams, director of Pacific Edge Events today.
"This is not about champagne or razzmatazz. This is about sincere respect for those who have contributed to the sport and have helped to create the success that mountain biking is today."
The UK MTB Hall of Fame, in keeping with the 21st century, will be virtual, utilising web space and social media. However, once a year, starting in June 22, 2012, the UK MTB Hall of Fame will become actual, with a presentation ceremony at Mountain Mayhem, a 24-hour mountain bike endurance event. There will also be a special marquee displaying pictures and information about the 12 inaugural inductees.
In its first year to get the ball rolling, the inductees have been chosen by the organisers and some members of the industry.
Induction will happen in a different way in subsequent years. "We are letting mountain biking fans chose," said Greenfield. "The Hall of Fame supporters from the industry will nominate the group of UK people, eight of which will be inaugurated the following year. The most important thing of all is that the final inductees will be voted by UK mountain biking fans from anywhere in the world. That's the beauty of a virtual UK MTB Hall of Fame. It's such an exciting project and we are delighted about how it has been received so...
Former professional road cyclist, David George, continued his rise up the ranks of international marathon mountain bike racing when he finished second at the Trans Germany mountain bike stage race, which finished in Partenkirchen on the weekend.
The Nedbank 360Life rider finished 60 seconds behind Switzerland's current marathon world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized), in the four-day event and collected the King of the Mountains title in the process, growing his status as one of the world's top marathon racers.
George was the most aggressive rider in the event and the only rider who looked able to challenge two-time winner and defending champion, Sauser, for the title.
"I knew that stage 1 is usually the crucial stage that sets the tone for the general classification at Trans Germany, and so I put in a big effort on the first climb. I got a fairly decent lead at one point, but it turns out I'd been a bit too aggressive and lost some time by the finish," said George.
Sauser won the opening stage and then spent the remainder three days defending his lead.
"On day 2, I moved from third to second overall, but I crashed on the final descent and lost a bit more time. The descents aren't rough and rugged like we have in South Africa, but rather sketchy and loose - almost marble-like. Takes a bit of getting used to riding fast downhill on that surface," said George.
But on the final stage, Sauser looked vulnerable. In the rainy, cool conditions, he faltered on the last major climb, allowing George to reclaim some time and move to within one minute of the Swiss rider by the finish.
"Longer stages would have suited me better, but you just race with more intensity when they're that distance," said George. "The cold weather there is different to the cold weather in South Africa. When it's cold there, it's really cold. I find I have to...
Binggeli, Harmony move in second after Chile Challenge wins
The USA Cycling Pro Gravity Tour (Pro GRT) continued with its fourth race over the weekend, the Mountain States Cup - Chile Challenge in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Logan Binggeli (Utah/KHS) descended to victory in the pro men's race while Jacqueline Harmony (IXS-510-Smith Optics) earned the women's win; both taking over second place in the overall standings.
Binggeli is in second position, 70 points behind overall World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing), who has won two of the four US Pro GRT races thus far. Gwin was not at the Chile Challenge, but instead won the Fort William round of the UCI Downhill World Cup. Gwin's teammate Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) holds a firm grasp on third-place in the overall with four of six races completed.
Harmony is 55 points behind Lauren Daney (DRD Intense), who holds the US Pro GRT lead with two races remaining.