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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Date published:
March 12, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • New big money mountain bike race planned for Colorado

    Judy Freeman (Crank Bros) climbing the mountain with ease
    Article published:
    March 06, 2013, 20:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Grand Junction to host new Epic Rides event

    The promoter of the Whiskey Off-Road weekend of racing in Arizona, Epic Rides, is taking its show on the road. Grand Junction in Western Colorado will host a new race called the Grand Junction Off-Road endurance mountain bike event on the US Labor Day Holiday weekend, Friday, August 30 through Sunday, September 1.

    Modeled after Epic Rides' popular Whiskey Off-Road event in Prescott Arizona, the three-day Grand Junction event will offer participants three distances to choose from including 15 Grand, 30 Grand and 40 Grand courses (each grand = 1 mile). Designed to appeal to all levels of mountain biker, each course will present an authentic cross country mountain bike experience.

    Pro racers will vie for a US$20,000 cash purse. Much like the Whiskey, the Grand's cash purse will be shared evenly between the male and female categories. 

    "With $55,000 of prize money between the Prescott, Arizona and Grand Junction, Colorado events, the quality of racing will be second to none in the world," said Todd Sadow, President of Epic Rides.

    That may be a bit of a stretch since the race does conflict on the calendar with the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, which theoretically attracts the best mountain bikers in the world.  However, it is likely to draw top US and Canadian domestic pros who do not make the trip to Worlds.

    Through cooperation with the Grand Junction Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, "The Grand" routes will feature world class riding located in the Lunch Loops, Magellan loop and Bangs Canyon area trail systems.

    Limited to a first-year field of 600 riders (500 amateurs and 100 professionals), attendees will enjoy three solid days of racing, riding and celebrating the mountain bike in Grand Junction.

    The weekend will kick off with a pro level fat tire criterium downtown, a well appointed industry vendor and tech expo, and beginner level "15 Grand" fun ride on Friday. Saturday...

  • McConnell and Henderson jump to early lead in US Pro XCT standings

    Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 07, 2013, 19:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australians dominate in first round

    The USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Tour (US Pro XCT) kicked off the 2013 national cross country mountain bike series last weekend, on March 2, with the Mellow Johnny's Classic in Dripping Springs, Texas. Australians Daniel McConnell and Rebecca Henderson (both Trek Factory Racing) earned wins to take narrow leads following the first of the nine-race series.

    "It's very important to us as not only a bike shop, but as a member of the bike racing community to give back in the form this bike race, where we treat the pros from all over to a great Pro XCT racing experience," said Ted Arnold, Mellow Johnny's Classic media director.

    "Meanwhile, we want our local and statewide racers to have a great time as well. We appreciate the hard work from sponsors, staff, racers, and the race producers that have been able to make this race happen for five years. We realize this is not just about this year's race, but about the long term legacy we can build."


    Australian Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) won the men's race and collected 250 points. He now holds the elite men's Pro XCT lead by 50 points over Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale), who sits in second place. Todd Wells (Specialized Racing), who topped the final Pro XCT men's standings in 2012, finished third and has 175 points. A pair of Canadian riders, Derek Zanstra (Scott-3Rox Racing) and Cameron Jette (Scott-3Rox Racing) round out the top five with 150 and 140 points, respectively.


    After winning the women's race, another Australian Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) tops the Pro XCT women's standings with 250 points. Brit Annie Last (Trek Factory Racing), who placed second in Texas, sits in second in the standings with 200 points while Canadian Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) is in third place with 175 points. A pair of Americans...

  • Swenson joins pro mountain bike ranks

    Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 08, 2013, 16:46 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    US junior national champ ready for U23 competition

    Keegan Swenson recently kicked off his second year of racing with the Cannondale Factory Racing team at an event in Cyprus. Having just graduated from the junior ranks, 2013 is his first year as a pro, and the Utah resident is embracing the transition.  He will spend much of 2013 focusing on racing the U23 cross country World Cups.

    "Last year was a good year for me. I won nationals and got a top five at worlds. I got a few podiums at World Cups," said the US cross country junior national champion to Cyclingnews at a recent team camp in Finale Ligure, Italy.

    Swenson credited his excellent 2012 season, both in the US and abroad, to several factors. "Consistent training helped, and coming over here [to Europe] and racing helped the most. It's important to get the feel of how the races works. If you don't, you won't do as well. It's just different - more aggressive and faster."

    The young pro further compared racing in the US and at the elite level European races.

    "The courses in Europe are completely different than in the States," he said. "The climbs aren't as long and tend to be more roll-y. The courses are more technical, with more wet rocks and roots. In the States, the courses are more mellow. I kind of wish the courses in the States were more like that so you could race on them and then race better over in Europe."

    Last season, Swenson helped his results by focusing on getting a good position off the line.

    "The main thing for me was my starts. I was lacking there and I worked on those," he said. "I realized that if I could have good starts, I'd already be at the front, and then I wouldn't have to work my way back up to the front."


  • Luna Pro Team presents 2013 team roster

    This was the first weekend the the powerful Luna team was all racing (L to R): Katerina Nash, Teal Stetson-Lee and Georgia Gould
    Article published:
    March 09, 2013, 21:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pendrel, Gould and Nash headline mountain bike squad

    Olympic medalist and US Cross Country National Champion Georgia Gould and cross country World Cup and former world champion Catharine Pendrel are back in action for this season with the Luna Pro Team. They will also be joined on the mountain bike circuit by four-time Olympian Katerina Nash and Teal Stetson-Lee.

    Gould, Pendrel and long-time staff members General Manager Dave McLaughlin, Team Manager Waldek Stepniowski and Equipment Manager Chris Mathis will continue with the Luna Pro Team for four more years.

    World Cup round winner Katerina Nash and development rider Stetson-Lee have each signed through 2013.

    The Luna team welcomes new mechanic Dusty LaBarr, who is a veteran of the international race circuit and brings a fresh perspective to the team.

    Luna continues to support former Xterra World Champion and ex-pro mountain biker Shonny Vanlandingham, current Xterra Mountain Champ Danelle Kabush, US National Xterra Champion Suzie Snyder and Marla Streb, who have each extended their Luna Pro Team contracts through 2014.

    The team will again race Orbea bikes.

    2013 Luna Pro Team
    Catharine Pendrel
    Georgia Gould
    Katerina Nash
    Teal Stetson Lee
    Shonny Vanlandingham
    Danelle Kabush
    Suzie Snyder

    Dave McLaughlin, General Manager
    Waldek Stepniowski, Team Manager
    Marla Streb, Media and PR
    Chris Mathis, Equipment Manager
    Dusty LaBarr, Mechanic

  • First Finnish UCI mountain bike team presented

    Jukka Vastaranta of the new Finnish Medilaser-Specialized MTB-Team
    Article published:
    March 10, 2013, 20:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    Medilaser-Specialized MTB-Team launched with four riders

    Finland has its first-ever UCI-registered pro mountain bike team, the Medilaser- Specialized MTB-Team, for 2013. The squad was presented in late February in Helsinki.

    Finland has had international-level mountain bikers for years, but hitherto, the nation's top racers have had to look abroad for team sponsorship.

    The main sponsor of the team, Medilaser, has previously worked with athletes, even supporting a cycling team, but it wanted to step up its game and do something more ambitious. The title sponsor company specializing in eye surgery.

    "Along the elite racers, we will promote U23s and juniors. We will start our season in Spain where some of riders will race and train for two months," said Petri Oksman of the Medilaser team.

    The team's top racer, Jukka Vastaranta, is joined by and Sonja Kallio, Jasmin Kansikas and Valtteri Repo.

    Vastaranta is a well established international elite rider, having been a pro cyclist for 10 years both on the road and the trail. He has previously won silver in the European marathon championships.

    "I am excited that we had a chance to put together this team. It is fantastic to ride when supported by Finnish sponsors," said Vastaranta.

    "This gives me a chance to focus on riding and is a huge boost of motivation for the coming season. As we also have really competitive equipment and a top professional support I have all the reason to expect a top performance for 2013."

    Kallio is the U23 Finnish champion in cross country skiing from a few years ago. She has won all other podium places in Finnish MTB championships except the title, therefore her clear goal for the season is to reach the top podium place in the Finnish Championships.

    Kansikas is just 18 but dominated junior women's category last year in Finland. She has just moved up to the elite ranks.

    Finally, Repo, who was the runner-up at last year's Finnish cross country championships and had a strong...

  • American team named for Continental Mountain Bike Championships

    Sam Schultz (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2013, 15:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Seventeen racers heading to Argentina

    USA Cycling selected 17 riders to represent the United States at the 2013 Pan-American Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Tucuman, Argentina, on April 3-7.

    "Compared to previous years, we are bringing a small, but very strong team this year to the Pan Am Championships," USA Cycling Mountain Bike Program Director Marc Gullickson said. "We certainly have good chances to win in all categories, and I expect we will bring home some medals as well as international race experience."

    Four riders will represent the United States in the elite men's cross country race. Defending national champion Sam Schultz (Trek Factory Racing), who also represented his country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, is the lone automatic nomination to the team as he is the second-ranked American in the UCI's rankings as of March 1.

    Schultz will bejoined by a trio of discretionary selections, including Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven-Stan’s No Tubes), Colin Cares (Kenda-Felt) and Mitchell Hoke (Kenda-Felt).

    Broderick's wife and 2004 and 2008 Olympian, Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-Stan's No Tubes), is the third-ranked American woman in the UCI's standings as of March 1 and has earned an automatic selection. Joining McConneloug will be a discretionary selection, Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe’s).

    Three burgeoning stars will represent the United States in the U23 men's category as discretionary selections. Defending national champion, Russell Finsterwald (Trek Factory Racing) will be joined by Kerry Werner (BMC U23 Mountain Bike Development Team), who finished third in the cross country mountain bike race at the 2012 Pan American Championships, and Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing). Swenson, who won the junior men's 17-18 national championship in 2012, earned a silver medal as a junior rider at the Pan American Championships in 2012.

    Shayna Powless (BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) is the lone representative for the...

  • Past women's winner Laws withdraws from Cape Epic due to injury

    Sharon Laws was on the podium as best climber.
    Article published:
    March 11, 2013, 20:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Booyens recruits new partner Stopforth

    A previous winner of the Absa Cape Epic in the ladies' category, Sharon Laws, had to withdraw from the 10th edition of the race yesterday after a serious fall in the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour. Her partner, Hanlie Booyens, will now be riding with Ischen Stopforth as team Pragma Volcan Ladies.

    Booyens said, "Yesterday was a very challenging day for us all. To see a great friend in agony and heartbroken is never easy. Sharon had a horrible crash nearing the finish line of the Argus. She was out there having a brilliant ride, breaking away on Suikerbossie. She was in front, riding aggressively and unfortunately this meant she was the first in line when one of the guys went down, sending her rocketing over him and crashing badly."

    "She was left with a broken collarbone, cracked ribs and a compressed fracture in her back. A great setback at the start of her European season and the end of our Cape Epic dream to ride the 10th together. Yes, she'll need some time but she'll be back!"

    Cape Epic race founder Kevin Vermaak said, "It was an honour to have Hanlie and Sharon riding together and contending for the ladies' title in the 10th edition. They won their category for the inaugural race in 2004 and again in 2009 when the route had changed from the traditional Knysna to the Cape Town start. It's a huge personal loss as it was particularly auspicious that they would be riding in this, the landmark 10th year."

    "Hanlie and Sharon were special in that they were going to be the only winning team that is back to ride and contend as the same team in the same category. They have won the ladies' category every time they have ridden together."

    The 698km Cape Epic will begin on March 17 and run until March 24.

    Booyens and Stopforth will also make a strong team.

  • Enforcement of UCI rules limits racing for top mountain bikers in USA

    Just before the start of stage 2 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 15:46 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    USA Cycling confirms it forbid pros on UCI teams from racing non-sanctioned events

    After USA Cycling notified UCI-registered teams that during 2013 it will be enforcing UCI rules prohibiting riders from competing in non-sanctioned races, some mountain bike pros will have fewer racing opportunities. While the rules are not new, a stricter enforcement of them could significantly affect the sport of mountain biking and several of its established and emerging sub-disciplines by curtailing racing opportunities for some pros.

    "It is UCI's expectation that we, and all national federations, enforce the UCI participation rules for all disciplines, not just mountain bike," said USA Cycling Director of Communications Bill Kellick to Cyclingnews when asked about the federation's intentions for the season just underway.

    In mountain bike racing, many grassroots and some major events are unsanctioned by USA Cycling and the UCI. Since the beginning of mountain biking, it has been customary for elite riders on UCI-registered teams to participate in such events, especially in between World Cup, national series races and other sanctioned races. The racers may be doing so to make money and get results at high profile contests like the Whiskey 50 and the 24 hours of Old Pueblo, or they may just want to support a local race back home. However, according to the rules, doing so in 2013 will bring punishment in the form of a monetary fine and/or suspension from competition in sanctioned races. [Correction:  The Leadville 100 was originally listed in this article as an unsanctioned race, but it has been sanctioned by USA Cycling since prior to when it was purchased by Life Time Fitness in 2010.]

    USA Cycling clarified that the rule only applies to some mountain bike pros, not all. "It is important to note that the only riders that are affected are riders that have registered with the UCI on a UCI team. This does not affect mountain bike pro riders who are NOT on UCI-registered teams," said Kellick, who also confirmed...