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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Date published:
March 13, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Speedy breaks wrist on South African MTB World cup course

    South African champion, Yolande Speedy, pictured here on her way to victory at the first round of the 2012 National Cross Country Series, is out of the 2012 UCI World Cup, Pietermaritzburg, with a broken wrist.
    Article published:
    March 09, 2012, 5:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Surgery planned for injured rider

    Yolande Speedy, South Africa's best hope for a top finish in the elite women's race at next week's opening round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, crashed and broke her wrist while training on the course on Wednesday afternoon.

    The injury to her right wrist is serious and requires surgery. She will obviously miss the World Cup race and is unlikely to be able to race for another two months. The multiple-time South African champion and Beijing Olympian is understandably highly disappointed.

    "I'm really in great form at the moment. My training has gone very well and my nutrition has been better than ever. I've not felt so good before. I planned to peak for the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg. I finished 21st there in 2009 and missed last year's edition due to illness. I was really hoping for a good result this year, possibly a top 20 finish. I'll have to just refocus now and set some new goals," said Speedy.

    Racing for the Epic Sports - USN team, the current South African cross country champion, won the opening round of the South African National cross country Series last month. She followed that up with a first place and a third place at rounds 1 and 2 respectively of the UCI XCO Series in KwaZulu-Natal over the past couple of weeks.

    The redesigned World Cup course in Pietermaritzburg has been the focus of much discussion in the build up to next weekend's racing, with some formidable sections designed to test the riders' skills and courage to the limit. Speedy crashed on the banked turn (berm) that follows a steep, long drop-off.

    "My first time down the drop-off, I hesitated and went over the handlebars, so on my second attempt, I decided to follow two international guys and use their line and pace. I was so happy to make...

  • Schurter hopes to repeat victory in Pietermaritzburg

    Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower)
    Article published:
    March 09, 2012, 13:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Swiss star ready for MTB World Cup opener

    One of the abiding memories of the 2011 UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg remains the manner in which Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) flew over the rock garden, while other riders struggled to negotiate it, on his way to victory in the elite men's cross country event. He's back in 2012 and determined to defend the title he won in such style last year.

    The Swiss ace, who is ranked number two in the world behind the Czech Republic's Jaroslav Kulhavy, views the season-opening race as vitally important and says that's a common feeling among all the riders.

    "The first one is always the most important. The starting order of the following races depends on the first round," he said. "And it is important to find the confidence in the opening round. The tension is always higher than in other rounds."

    Last season, Schurter's only World Cup win came in Pietermaritzburg, but he regularly challenged for titles and finished runner-up to Kulhavy in the final four races, at Monte-Sainte-Anne in Canada, Windham in the United States, Nové Mìsto na Moravì in the Czech Republic, and Val di Sole in Italy. He also placed second behind Kulhavy at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

    Returning to the scene of his victory is a big boost for the Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing star. He knows the cross country course will be very different in 2012, but is positive about racing at the Cascades MTB Park.

    "I like to race in Pietermaritzburg. Even though the course will be different, I'm sure I'm going to like it. The...

  • Video: Park follows the privateer path to international success

    Krista Park (Cannondale / NoTubes)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 19:55 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    American mountain biker steps up committment for Olympic year

    Krista Park (No Tubes Cannondale) was named to the US Olympic Long Team in December, but she says the honor hasn't changed her approach to racing. What has influenced her plans for the 2012 season is steady improvement, year after year.

    Park got a late start in pro racing. "I quit my job in 2007, which was my first year racing and not working," said the now 37-year-old former electrical engineer.

    Park and her husband Todd live in an RV to keep expenses down and to enable her to race as a pro and travel the globe.

    "Every year we take this one year at a time. In that first year, I travelled and raced and figured because I was good at this, we'd live on one salary and then maybe the next year, I could get a real job. But I keep getting better every year, so there hasn't been a good time to stop. So we're still taking the same approach - no pressure, no expectations and one year at a time."

    Park evaluates her success based on her fitness and her power numbers. Over the years, she says her power numbers just keep getting better and the race results come along with them.

    Last year, Park earned a top five overall in the US national series and placed third and fourth at individual races. She also stepped up to race in a more committed way on the World Cup circuit. But she is striving for a balance between the high profile international series and lesser known events.

    "The World Cup experience meant more to me than the results," said Park, who enumerated her goals for 2012. "I'm not targeting anything but World Cups. I will do some underground endurance events. I think you can get too focused on being pro and the real world is not doing World Cups. They are out drinking a beer and doing other events. I'll do more of those races than any particular other series."

    The World Cup learning curve was a steep one...

  • Fourteen mountain bikers named to US team for Pan Am Championships

    Kerry Werner took 5th and 1st in the under 23 category
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 21:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    No elite cross country riders on squad

    USA Cycling announced on Monday the 14 riders named to the US squad for the upcoming Pan American Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Puebla, Mexico, on April 4 - 8.

    With five male and five female automatic nominees declining spots on the elite cross country squad due to scheduling conflicts with upcoming World Cups, and no discretionary petitions received by the posted deadline, the United States will not be sending any representatives to Mexico in the elite men's and women's cross country divisions.

    Four young, rising stars will however represent the United States in the U23 men's cross country division. Jack Hinkens (BMC MTB Dev. Team) and Kerry Werner (BMC MTB Dev. Team) received automatic nominations due to their position as the top-ranked American U23 males in the UCI rankings. Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek) who earned eighth place in the U23 men's race at the 2011 Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup will join the team, along with junior cross country national champion Howard Grotts (Team Specialized Racing), who also won the junior men's division at the Windham World Cup last season. No U23 women automatically qualified for the squad and no petitions were received.

    Two juniors, both discretionary selections, will represent the US in Puebla. Currently ranked 18th in the UCI overall rankings, Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing) will race the junior men's cross country event. Silver medalist in the junior event at the US cross country national championships and ranked 74th internationally, Grace Alexander (BMC MTB Dev. Team) will contest the junior women's event.

    Six discretionary selections will represent the US in the elite men's downhill. Junior downhill national champion Neko Mulally (Trek World Racing), Brian Buell (Geronimo) who was ninth at the 2011 Highland Pro GRT, reigning 15-16 downhill national champion Logan Mulally, Max Morgan (Georgia Bicycle Racing Association), runner-up at the Beech Mountain Downhill,...

  • Fumic hopes for Olympic medal

    Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 12:42 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    German targets World Cups, Worlds and Olympics in 2012

    Manuel Fumic is among the elite mountain bike racers looking to compete and medal at the London Olympic Games in August. The veteran German rider, a member of the Cannondale Factory Racing team, is hoping to excel at what will be his third Olympic Games.

    The German cycling federation has pre-qualified Fumic for its Olympic team. To finalize his selection, he has to finish in the top 15 in one of the first four World Cups this spring.

    "I'm looking forward to the World Cup in Pietermartizburg, where I hope to finish that qualification and then I can just focus on the Olympics," said Fumic to Cyclingnews at a recent Cannondale Factory Racing team camp. The Pietermaritzburg World Cup will happen in South Africa on March 17-18.

    "I'd like to race a solid World Cup season and do the Olympics in London, then the world championships at the end of the year in Austria."

    Fumic knows the competition will be fast and furious in South Africa in the early season. Nations will be trying to maximize how many athletes they can qualify, and individuals will all be racing to secure their spots on their respective Olympic teams.

    Should Fumic earn his spot, he will benefit from the experience he gained at the past two Olympic Games. "In Athens (in 2004), I was one of the youngest competitors. Beijing (in 2008) was my second Games, and I was really close to getting a medal. I was riding with (Nino) Schurter and (Christoph) Sauser, and we were fighting for a bronze medal. With 3km to go, I had a puncture and I think I finished 11th."

    The 29-year-old is less intimidated by the Olympic experience than in the past. "I feel more comfortable this time around. I'm not nervous. The first time you get there, the Olympics...

  • GT Factory Racing launches 2012 look

    The GT Factory Racing Team for 2012
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 14:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Athertons and Beaumont get new colors for new season

    The GT Factory Racing Team is raring to go at the first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup of 2012, coming up in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, this weekend. The team, which includes the Atherton siblings and Marc Beaumont, launched its new look while out on its pre-season training camp in Newport Beach, California.

    With its new title sponsor GT, the team adopted a new look for the season, and it features black, yellow and white colors for bikes and kit.

    "We've gone for a subtler look this year for our main race kit but don't worry, we'll be mixing it up with a few other offerings as the year progresses," said 2008 downhill world champion Rachel Atherton.

    Other major changes including switching to Shimano and Fox components for the season. The racers will be aboard GT Fury bikes on the World Cup circuit.

    Using the Alpi Bike Resort in Torinio, Italy as its base for the summer, the team's schedule will take in the full World Cup circuit, Crankworx Canada and Europe, Mega Avalanche, Super Enduros, select British Downhill Series events as well as Rampage and a host of other enduro events.

  • Cares and Blasi take over US Pro XCT lead

    Colin Cares of Kenda/Felt took 2nd place
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 16:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Standings posted after round 2 in Bonelli Park

    Colin Cares (Kenda-Felt) and Zephanie Blasi (WXC World Racing) took over the USA Cycling US Pro Cross Country Tour lead after finishing second in last weekend's US Cup Triple Crown - Bonelli Park. Both riders move into the top spots after combining silver with a 13th-place finish in last week's Mellow Johnny's Classic.

    With his absence Max Plaxton (Specialized Racing) fell into a points deadlock with Raphael Gagne (Rocky MTN Factory), but retained second place due to his victory at Mellow Johnny's. A similar scenario on the women's side shows Catharine Pendrel (Team Luna Chix) holding on to second place in the US Pro XCT standings over Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's).

    The Subaru-Trek squad and the Kenda/Felt Pro MTB Team moved into one and two on the team standings respectively after a strong showing at Bonelli.

    The second of five 2012 events on the US Pro XCT, Bonelli saw a host of new faces at the front of the pack, and first time winners in both fields with the absence of many of last week's top 10 riders opting to prepare for the upcoming World Cup next weekend in South Africa. In the women’s race, local Allison Mann (Sho-Air-Specialized) made the best of home track knowledge and rode away to a convincing solo win to earn the first US Pro XCT victory of her career. Behind Mann, a see-saw battle finally broke apart late in the five-lap race with Blasi racing ahead for silver. Huck, Jamie Busch and Andreanne Pichette (Opus-OGC-Equipe Queb) who was the first U23 women's rider on the day, rounded out the top five.

    In the elite men's race, nearly 70 men rolled to the line to do battle in the heat of the unseasonably warm day. Mexico's Ignacio Torres (Turbo) grabbed the bull by the horns leading the first lap. In pursuit was Torres’ teammate Emmanuel Valencia, chased by Cannondale's Alex Grant, Sho-Air/Specialized's Brendon Davids and Cares. Davids was the first to...

  • BMC backs US-based development team for second year

    The BMC Development MTB Team
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 18:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Roster of U23 and junior riders announced

    BMC Bicycles is continuing its backing of the top-ranked US development cross country mountain bike racing team this season. In its ground-breaking 2011 season, the team's racers earned the U23 national title and the U23 men's and women's US Pro XCT titles. For 2012, the squad has re-vamped its roster of promising young American mountain bike talent.

    "Our intention is to give young US athletes a realistic chance to transition to the top professional level in cross country. This is a long term project," said Frank Schreiner, Head of Marketing at BMC. "We want to build a consistent development structure, a BMC success pyramid, where, with the right commitment, our riders can always step one level up, if you perform and finally become a pro rider. The success of Stephen Ettinger shows that we achieved this goal already in our first year."

    A core group of six racers will make up the team. On the men's side, returning teammates Kerry Werner and Jack Hinkens will be the senior riders, both with racing ages of 21. Joining them will be second year junior rider Tyler Coplea. All three were standout athletes on US National Team trips in Europe last season as well as some of the strongest young riders on domestic soil.

    AliciaRose Pastore will be anchoring the women's side of the team and will be coming off of a 2011 national championship season. Rounding out the team roster will be junior racers Grace Alexander and Shayna Powless. All three women dominated the junior cross country national championships in 2011 by landing inside the top four spots in the junior women's 17-18 race.

    In addition to contesting all of the US Pro XCT UCI-categorized events across the USA and the North American World Cups, BMC Team riders will once again look to make a big impact at the US National Championships and are scheduled to travel to Europe for a number top level UCI events and World Cups. When not on the road, BMC Team riders will compete in...