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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Date published:
March 27, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • 12 Hours of Snowmass moves to Saturday, July 21

    Lance Armstrong on his bike at Snowmass.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2012, 2:34 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pro UET final will raise money for Aspen Youth Center

    Aspen Youth Center, Town of Snowmass Village, Nat Ross and Pro Bike Center announced the return of 12 Hours of Snowmass. The 2012 edition is set for Saturday, July 21 and will be the series finale for the USA Cycling Pro Ultra Endurance Tour (US Pro UET).

    A US$2,500 cash purse will offer riders the opportunity to race with the big boys and girls as they chase the title and cash purse.

    "There is nothing like racing at one of your favorite places. Snowmass is going to be awesome and I am super amped to be part of it," said Pua Mata, 2011 US Pro UET Champion.

    The 12-hour mountain bike race for solo and endurance teams benefits for a local non-profit organization, Aspen Youth Center, which provides after school, summer and outreach programs for over 1,200 youth in the Roaring Fork Valley.

    Race categories include: solo, duo, trio, juniors, Clydesdales and open classes. The intermediate seven-mile course has climbs, descents and plenty of singletrack.

    A new category, junior/pro trio where two juniors will team up with a pro mountain bike racer, has also been added this season. Juniors who want to take part in this category - like those whom participate in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) - will be able to write a 200-word essay to on why they want to team up with a pro and how they would benefit from this experience. They will be able to race for free while fundraising for their team's entry.

    The 12-hour event will start at 7:00 am local time on race day.

    For more information on the race, visit

  • Last year's winner Bigham returns to Cape Epic

    Sally Bigham and Karien Van Jaaarsveld (leading ladies) make their way through a deep river crossing during stage 3 of the 2011 Absa Cape Epic
    Article published:
    March 22, 2012, 14:46 GMT
    Cycling News

    British rider pairs up with Olympic hopeful Süss

    The Absa Cape Epic welcomes back last year's women's winner Sally Bigham, 33, of Great Britain and her new partner Esther Süss, 37, of Switzerland for the eight-day mountain bike stage race, which will start on Sunday, March 25. Competing as the Wheels4Life team, the duo will be aiming for victory.

    This will be the fourth Cape Epic for Süss. "It's always a good and strong training session which I enjoy. The race is also wonderful and it's a great inspiration with a lot of good experience. I like South Africa," said Süss.

    Süss will be riding with Bigham, who will be facing her third Cape Epic. "A race season would not be complete without the Cape Epic," said Bigham. "It's a major part of my race calendar, and I'd be upset if it wasn't. I love the race, the people and South Africa - that's why I keep coming back."

    Both Bigham and Süss have many accolades to their names. Süss has been the Swiss cross country champion and the winner of numerous national marathon and cross country races. She placed third in the World Cup in Offenburg, Germany, fifth overall in the 2010 cross country World Cup as well as becoming the world, European and Swiss Marathon Champion in 2010.

    Bigham won the British Marathon National Championship in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and placed second overall in the Trans Germany in 2011 and was second at the European Marathon Championships in 2011. Last year, Bigham also was the top ranked marathon rider according to the UCI.

    "We've raced each other many times, but we've never trained together or raced as a team before," said Bigham, who prepared for the Cape Epic with a three-week training camp in Gran Canaria, where she was riding between three and six hours six times per week.

    Both are unsure of podium finishes this year, but Süss believes that their chances are not too bad. Bigham was reluctant to make...

  • Injured Wells to sit out Cape Epic

    US Cross Country Champion Todd Wells (Specialized)
    Article published:
    March 22, 2012, 19:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    US national champ needs longer recovery from Pietermaritzburg crash

    Todd Wells' 2012 season did not start the way he had hoped. The US cross country national champion crashed in training on the Pietermaritzburg World Cup course just a few days before the race. Forced to sit out the opening World Cup, Wells had hoped to be back in action for the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race starting this weekend, but his foot injury is more severe than he initially realized.

    He explained on his blog what happened in the crash. "My first lap of the World Cup course I took a pretty big tumble halfway through from the top of the log steps. I ejected at the top, landed on my head and back and doinked my ankle on the ground and pedal. Now I probably dropped a good 10 feet, so when I could move all my fingers and toes I was pretty stoked. My most immediate concern was my back but after about 20 minutes, I was able to breath OK and started to notice my sore ankle."

    Fortunately, further examination revealed that there were no broken bones, but Wells had to watch the World Cup instead of racing it. "That was pretty hard to take and it was the first time I've watched a complete race from the sidelines."

    After resuming some training in the days after the World Cup, the pain began to increase again in his foot. "The team took me for a MRI/CT Scan yesterday and it was determined to just be a bad bone bruise on my heel. I am sentenced to crutches for six weeks but can start riding as soon as the pain is gone since cycling doesn't stress the bruised bone, just walking."

    That means no Cape Epic, which the Team Specialized rider had planned to ride with Max Knox.

    Wells will travel back to the US to recuperate. "The hardest part about the whole...

  • Windham overcomes hurricane damage in quest to host World Cup

    Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour) wins the Windham World Cup with a surge on the last lap.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2012, 22:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    American venue in third year as stop on the circuit

    For the third year in a row, the world's top professional mountain bikers will converge on Windham Mountain as the town hosts the eighth round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Cross country and downhill events will take place from June 30 through July 1.

    This year, a much more serious story underscores race preparations. Windham, both the town and the mountain, suffered devastating losses after Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Lee swept through late last summer. The damage was monumental, businesses were ravaged and houses swept downstream.

    "The people of Windham are tenacious and the community rallied around amazing support from near and far to work to get the mountain and town ready for ski season and, eventually, the World Cup," said Race Director Nick Bove.

    The sidewalks on Main Street have been replaced. Basements that were buried in six feet of mud and debris are clean.

    "We are all fighting hard to come back, working to create challenging race courses and looking forward to welcoming back the international racing community this summer," Bove said.

    With the Summer Olympics a few short weeks after the races in New York, Windham will be the last place in the US to see members of the various national Olympic mountain bike teams prior to the Games.

    Windham World Cup organizers are planning many community events again this year, including cross country and downhill racing for all levels of ability, a block party and a concert.

    "So many people - riders and spectators alike - told us that they had a terrific time in Windham last year and we promise that we will live up to their high expectations for 2012," said Bove.

    Windham is the eighth stop on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup which also visits Pietermaritzburg, South Africa;...

  • Cyclists arrive at Cape Epic from around the globe

    Kevin Evans prior to crashing out during stage 1 of the 2011 Absa Cape Epic
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 14:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Great Trek means days of travel for some racers

    The ninth edition of the Absa Cape Epic is drawing riders from all corners of the globe onto South African soil to compete in the SHC-categorized mountain bike stage race. The race, which takes place from March 25 to April 1, will kick off with its prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville and will finish eight days, 781km and 16300m of climbing later at the traditional Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West. The race welcomes riders of 40 different nationalities to the start line.

    As many World Cup pros discovered in the past two weeks, getting to South Africa from many places around the globe is an epic trip. Here are some examples of the lengthy trips some racers are making.

    The movement of cyclists from around the world for the Cape Epic has been referred to as the Great Trek and that comes as no surprise with cyclists such as Philip Johnson, 31, from Cottesloe Beach in Perth; Teresa DeWitt, 50, who lives on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean; and Kenneth Koh, 46, coming from Singapore to test their cycling ability, in what will likely be one of the most challenging editions of the Cape Epic. More than half of the international cyclists will spend more than 30 hours in transit but agree that it will be well worth the effort once they are on their mountain bikes at this year's event.

    Sebastian Kellermayr, 36, from Vienna Austria, a corporate lawyer at the world's biggest law firm, will spend 20 hours in transit. He will have two stopovers on his way to Cape Town - one in Istanbul and one in Johannesburg - and it will take him two days to adjust before the start of the race. Kellermayr, a first time Cape Epic rider, said, "I completed the TransRockies and the TransAlp, but the Cape Epic is still missing. That's why I've decided to do it this year."

    Brother of well-known professional cyclist Bart Brentjens, Cas Brentjens, 40, from Singapore,...

  • Sauser and Stander ready for Cape Epic

    Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander of team 36One Songo-Specialized celebrate the overall win during the final stage (stage 7) of the 2011 Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 17:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    2011 winners return to defend their title

    The 2011 winners of the Absa Cape Epic, Christoph Sauser from Switzerland and Burry Stander from South African will be back this year to defend their title, racing together as team 36ONE-Songo-Specialized.

    Sauser was also part of the winning team that took top honours at the 2006 South African event. This year's race, which takes place from March 25 to April 1, 2012, will once again take 1200 riders through some of the Western Cape's most unspoiled territory. The race will kick-off with the prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville and finish at Lourensford Wine Estate.

    Commenting on defending their title and riding together for the fifth time, the 35-year-old Sauser said, "It makes no difference being the defending champions or not. It's all about the present future. We have to be at the start line in the very best shape, and have the best team and equipment around us."

    Stander, 34, has won a gold medal and two bronze medals in the last four years at a variety of world championships, apart from winning the Cape Epic with Sauser last year. He is also one of the few South Africans who later this year will stand a realistic chance of winning a medal at the Olympic Games in London. He was the under 23 world champion as well as the 2008 and 2009 under 23 World Cup Champion, and finished in third position overall in 2009's UCI World Cup series. In 2010 he was a bronze medalist at the cross country and marathon world championships and in 2011 finished in sixth position overall in the UCI cross country ranking.

    Sauser has been racing professionally since 1993, and his many accomplishments include being the marathon world champion in 2011 and 2007, being the European marathon...

  • Formula One star Prost participating in the Cape Epic

    Alain Prost leads a group of riders over a rocky section
    Article published:
    March 27, 2012, 18:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Former Grand Prix Champion teams up with skier Sebastian De Pasqua

    Former Formula One champion Alain Prost is participating in this year's Absa Cape Epic along with international waterski champion Sebastien Di Pasqua.  With one prologue and two stages finished, the pair aims to make it to the finish of the South African mountain bike stage race on Sunday.

    At the start of stage 2, Prost said that the Cape Epic is definitely living up to his expectations. "I was sure it would be very difficult and tough, which it is," said Prost. "I wanted to live this week and this experience. So I'm not terribly surprised, it's exactly what I expected."

    Prost is a four-time Formula One Drivers' Champion, and he has won more titles than any driver except for Juan Manuel Fangio (five championships) and Michael Schumacher (seven championships). For a period of 14 years, from 1987 to 2001, Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories. Schumacher surpassed Prost's total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. In 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motor sport category. He has also received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the Chevalier de la Legion d'honnour (National Order of the Legion of Honour).

    Prost employed a smooth, relaxed style behind the wheel, deliberately modeling himself on personal heroes like Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. He was nicknamed "The Professor" for his intellectual approach to competition. Skilled at setting up his car for race conditions, Prost would often conserve his brakes and tyres early on in a race, leaving them fresher for a challenge at the end.

    "Stage 1 was already something very tough, but we did well. The only issue is that I'm starting to have a back problem and it gets to me, especially when...

  • Video: Swenson, Smith add young firepower to Cannondale Factory Racing

    Tinker Juarez, Keegan Swenson and Taylor Smith (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 27, 2012, 20:42 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Future bright for World Cup team

    Cannondale Factory Racing brought on board two junior mountain bikers for the 2012 season: Americans Taylor Smith and Keegan Swenson. Both last year juniors will race primarily in the US, but will also get a chance to participate in some World Cups with the UCI elite mountain bike team, which also includes pros Manuel Fumic, Marco Fontana, Martin Gujan and Jeremiah Bishop.

    Swenson, who lives in Park City, Utah, gained some experience in Europe after competing there for the first time in several races in 2011. "I learned that there are a lot of fast juniors and they are all strong and great riders. It was good to go there and experience great competition," said Swenson to Cyclingnews.

    "My best results were second in the Swisspower Cup in Granichen and two top fives at the Mont-Sainte-Anne and Windham World Cups. Plus I was second at cross country and short track US nationals."

    Smith was in Europe for the first time at the Cannondale Factory Racing team camp in Finale Ligure in late February and early March. The racer from Navato, California is hoping to return to the Continent in May for a US Development team camp.

    Both riders are aiming to do the North American World Cups at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec, Canada, and Windham, New York in the USA.

    Swenson is hoping to hit a few others, too. "This year, I will try to do as many World Cups as I can, but I don't yet know which ones. Definitely the US World Cups and maybe the French World Cups." He, too, is hoping to attend the May development camp in Europe.

    The two have been teammates previously. "We knew each other before," said Swenson. "We raced at...