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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Date published:
June 24, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Mick Hannah injured in crash at Fort William World Cup

    Mick Hannah, injured but still smiling at the Fort William World Cup
    Article published:
    June 07, 2014, 21:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike pro sidelined from competition

    Australian Mick Hannah (Hutchinson United Ride) crashed and injured himself on Friday and is out of the racing at the Fort Wiliam Downhill World Cup and in the coming weeks.

    Hannah clipped a pedal and went over the bars in a very fast rocky section of the course. He landed on his head and right shoulder. While his head is ok, a trip to the hospital revealed that he separated his AC joint and tore ligaments in his shoulder.

    Inverness and Fort William surgeons think that Hannah won't actually need surgery; however, his team will turn to shoulder specialists in the coming week in order to get a second opinion on this. Whatever happens, Hannah won't be able to ride a bike for several weeks.

    Recovery time is still unknown although Hannah said he continues to focus on the world championships, knowing that he'll be back in action before the end of the season.

  • Huber shoots for marathon world title

    Swiss star Urs Huber will hope to fly both his nation's and the Team Bulls flags high at the 2014 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg.
    Article published:
    June 08, 2014, 21:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Team Bulls to be well represented in South Africa

    Current world ranked number two Urs Huber and a gaggle of the Swiss star's Team Bulls teammates are eager to charge at this year's UCI Marathon World Championships which will take place in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, June 29.

    Huber, no stranger to the South African mountain bike scene after numerous Cape Epics and a handful of MTN National MTB Series legs, Grape Escapes and Tankwa Treks under his belt, will lead a strong six-man Team Bulls contingent to 'Maritzburg.

    Although, this time around, the regular riding buddies will go head to head as they exchange their regular team gear for the colours of their home nation.

    "I have been to South Africa many times before to race and to train in during the European winter - so many times I can't even count!" said Huber.

    "South Africa is the perfect country for mountain biking, the people are friendly, the weather is almost always good, the trails are perfect and my second place at this year's Cape Epic is a recent example of the many nice memories I have of racing in South Africa, so I'm really looking forward to racing Worlds there this year."

    Although a regular top performer on the international circuit, the 28-year-old is yet to clinch the prestigious rainbow striped sorld champion's jersey in his illustrious career. His best result yet is a third place in 2008.

    "Although the Cape Epic was important for me, the world champs is my primary focus this year," said Huber.

    "The rainbow jersey is the most beautiful thing that you can have as a marathon rider! Although I would love to win it, my goal for Worlds this year is to be on the start line in my best possible shape and then I'm sure I'll be able to fight for a medal!"

    Huber believes the regular favourites Christoph Sauser and Alban Lakata will again be in the mix however he also feels some of his cross country...

  • Lakata to defend European marathon title against Sauser, Kulhavy

    Sally Bigham
    Article published:
    June 11, 2014, 15:53 BST
    Cycling News

    Ireland hosts first such championship race this weekend

    Some of Europe's finest marathoners will race each other this weekend in the European Marathon Mountain Bike Championships through the hills of Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Centre, County Limerick in Ireland.

    Defending European marathon champion Alban Lakata (Austria), also a former marathon world champion, will line up at the start along with Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic), who was second at the marathon Worlds in 2011. Those two will be joined by Christoph Sauser (Switzerland), fresh off winning the Bike Four Peaks last weekend and the current marathon world champion. Dutch legend Bas Peters will also be on the start line.

    In the women's race, Sally Bigham (Great Britain) and Irish National Champion Jenny Fay are set to start.

    This is the first time Ireland has hosted an official UCI Championship mountain bike event. The course has been specially curated with spectators in mind and includes four loops from the event village designed to give maximum exposure to the athletes.

    Among the domestic favorites, Irish road rider and National Road Champion Mel Spath will line up along with a full domestic field including her husband Ryan Sherlock, thankfully recovered from a bad crash at the Rás a few weeks ago.

    Sherlock said, "I have been riding and racing in Ballyhoura for many years now and when I heard that the European Marathon Championships would be making a stop there in 2014 I was very excited. In 2013, the Irish Marathon Championships were held on the course, and I got a firsthand experience of how it will be in June - the race organisation, the facilities and the course are world class, it is going to supply a very worthy male and female Champion. I real all round performer."

    "The course itself, it is so much fun to ride, there is so much fast swooping singletrack that you almost look forward to the fireroads trails just to let your mind relax a moment - more than 50% of your time will be spent swooping...

  • Absalon and Giger among favorites for BMC Cup in Graenichen

    Lukas Flueckiger and Julien Absalon at the 2013 BMC Cup in Graenichen
    Article published:
    June 12, 2014, 17:35 BST
    Cycling News

    World Cup leader Neff one to watch in women's race

    The fourth round of the BMC Racing Cup 2014 in Graenichen, Switzerland follows one week after the European Championships, and 11 medallists from last week's championships will be in attendance. The men's race promises part 2 of a duel between newly crowned European Champion Julien Absalon (BMC Racing) and silver medalist Fabian Giger (Giant Pro XC). In addition to Absalon, Jolanda Neff (Liv Giant) will be another World Cup leader who will line up at the start of the women's race.

    The short, 4.2-kilometre course is a fan favourite due to its easy access for spectators, and the spectators will very likely have a chance to see a renewed rivalry between Giger and Absalon. The Frenchman had to give it all in St. Wendel last weekend until he finally managed to leave the diehard Swiss rider behind in a last lap effort.

    Absalon, the most successful mountain biker of all time, is rather modest in his preview of the fourth round of the BMC Racing Cup. "I will do my best for sure, but will it suffice for another victory? I cannot tell for sure," he said. "Depending on how the race will develop, I will maybe be in a position to help Lukas in defending his title." Absalon succeeded in doing just that a year ago, when he was second behind teammate Lukas Flueckiger.

    Giger will lead the Frenchman's competitors in Graenichen. "We are all coming to the end of three turbulent weeks. I hope that my shape is still good enough to give Absalon a sound grilling again," said Giger.

    After just having gone through a rather disappointing spring season, last year's winner Lukas Flueckiger is very guarded concerning his expectations for the race on Sunday. "I hope that everything goes well, but there...

  • UCI selects 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Championship hosts

    Thomas Litscher and Ondrej Cink at the Nove Mesto World Cup
    Article published:
    June 13, 2014, 20:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Two different countries host new split championship

    At its Management Committee meeting today, the UCI announced the hosts of the 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. The UCI has split the worlds between two separate venues in two different countries rather than combining them as it has previously done.

    The 2016 Downhill and Trials worlds will be in Val di Sole, Italy, which typically hosts a downhill World Cup each year and last hosted worlds, for both downhill and cross country, in 2008.

    Nove Mesto na Morave, in the Czech Republic, will host its first worlds ever - for cross country racers only. Nove Mesto is popular World Cup venue among cross country racers.

    No specific dates were provided for either 2016 world championship event.

    Hafjell, Norway will host the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in September and Vallnord, Andorra will host them next year.

  • Süss searching for another marathon Worlds title

    Following a hat-trick of third place finishes at the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships Wheeler iXS Pro Team star and 2010 Marathon World Champion Esther Süss will be hoping to wind back the clock and claim her second rainbow striped jersey when the worldwide spectacle gets underway at the Cascades MTB Park
    Article published:
    June 16, 2014, 12:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider hopes for success like four years ago

    It has been four years since Swiss marathon stalwart Esther Süss last tasted UCI Marathon World Championships glory but the 40-year-old believes that 2014 could be the year she ends her victory drought as she returns to a familiar stomping ground at the Cascades MTB Park for the women's 74km race on Sunday, June 29.

    The Wheeler iXS Pro Team star is no stranger to the southernmost tip of Africa as she is regular visitor to South African shores and has been riding in the country since Cascades hosted its inaugural UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2009.

    Süss explained that she is a big fan of the Rainbow Nation and makes it a stop on her calendar every year. "I spend a lot of time in South Africa. I have been back every year since 2009 and have done six Cape Epics as well as the Cape Pioneer once, so I am no stranger to South Africa and the conditions."

    "I really love coming back to South Africa; it is one of my favourite countries to visit and Pietermaritzburg is not unfamiliar to me. I have competed there a number of times at the cross country World Cups and I won the bronze medal at the World Champs there last year," she said.

    Süss has been involved primarily in cross country racing so far in 2014 however, although her focus has been away from marathon riding, the former world champion is confident about her chances heading into the showpiece event.

    "I think the marathon Worlds is going to be really tough this year with some stiff competition but I am hoping to go home with the gold medal this year!

    "My form is good coming into the world champs and I feel really strong so I am positive about my chances in Pietermaritzburg," Süss said.

    Having competed in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at the same venue in 2013, Süss has an idea of what to expect albeit under slightly different circumstances...

  • Cape Pioneer Trek presents 2014 route

    An overview of the full 2014 Cape Pioneer Trek race.
    Article published:
    June 19, 2014, 13:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Upgraded UCI race status for mountain bike stage race

    The route for the 2014 Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in South Africa has been finalised and holds some highlights for the more than 800 riders come October 12, when the sixth edition of the race gets underway.

    For the first time, the Cape Pioneer Trek will have International Cycling Union (UCI) status, which means an increase in prize money and the allocation of UCI rankings points to the top finishers on each stage and overall. But most of the field won't be concerned with podium battles, but rather conquering a race route that’s varied, challenging and rewarding, which contains some exciting fresh section as well as some old favourites, covering a distance of 574km with a total vertical ascent of 11 958 metres over the seven days.

    A typically African bush experience will herald the opening stage, which is a 15.3km prologue time trial at the Buffelsdrift Game Lodge just outside the Western Cape town of Oudtshoorn. Buffelsdrift is home to a variety of wildlife including three of the Big Five - buffalo, rhino and elephant - sure to create a powerful impact, not only on the international racers, but the South Africans, too. Riders can expect some short climbs and fast, flowing descents in the race opener, which climbs a total of 371 vertical metres.

    Stage 1 from Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp is a 100km haul with 1794 metres of climbing. The muddy conditions near the start of this stage in 2013 had a significant impact on the final overall standings in all categories. It’s not the stage where you can win the Cape Pioneer Trek, but, as was seen last year, it’s certainly a stage on which you can lose it. Riders will be relieved to know that this year there’s a different start venue - the centre of Oudtshoorn - with whole new section of trail between the first two water points.

    As with 2013, stage 2 will once again take riders from Calitzdorp to the summit of the Swartberg Pass, still...

  • Sauser hunts down fourth set of marathon rainbow stripes

    Christoph Sauser on a boardwalk section
    Article published:
    June 24, 2014, 19:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss star in form after winning European marathon championships

    Fresh off his 2014 European Marathon Championships success in Ireland, defending mountain bike marathon world champion Christoph Sauser of Switzerland has his eye firmly on clinching a fourth global title of his career when he tackles the 2014 UCI Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, June 29.

    The Specialized Racing rider, who has strong South African ties, has enjoyed a string of victories in Europe in recent months and is eager to make this count when "the big one" rolls into town in KwaZulu-Natal's capital next weekend.

    "Worlds are definitely my focus for the year and I really want to defend my title in Pietermaritzburg!" said Sauser. "There is nothing bigger or better than the moment you are on the podium and the jersey is presented to you!"

    "I have dreamt about winning the title again this year, and it happens then it would be very special! Firstly because it will almost be a home race for me and, secondly, if I can win again this year it would be the first time I've ever successfully defended a world title!" he said.

    The 38-year-old marathon legend will use the last few days in his native Switzerland before he jets off to sunny South Africa as a final touch-up opportunity but believes he is already in outstanding physical and mental condition.

    "Physically I am in the shape of my life!" said Sauser. "I will still look to get into even a bit better shape but I won't go crazy with my training from now up until Worlds though, I'll take this weekend off from racing and just train in Switzerland."

    "Quality rather than quantity is the key and I'll just look to work on my last few weaknesses instead.

    "It is a mental game too though and I've built up a lot of confidence lately having won pretty much all of my races...