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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Date published:
March 05, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Sho-Air / Cannondale welcomes Taylor Smith

    Taylor Smith (Sho-Air / Cannondale)
    Article published:
    February 25, 2013, 15:14 GMT
    Cycling News

    Young NICA racer joins North American team

    Team Sho-Air / Cannondale announced the addition of former Cannondale Factory Racing rider Taylor Smith to its roster on the eve of the NICA NorCal opener, the Granite Bay Challenge, held this past weekend.

    "I'm excited to get the opportunity to join the Sho-Air / Cannondale team. The move means I'll be closer to the team base/support, and I get to keep racing on a Cannondale, and I am stoked," said Smith.

    "It's such an incredible bike that it almost feels unfair," said Smith. "The fact that Sho-Air supports the high school mountain bike movement is also sweet. Their support of NICA and the US Cup helps me continue to pursue my dream to become a top pro racer someday."

    Smith, who hails from Novato, California, will aim to defend his NICA California State Championship and focus on consistent results in the individual NorCal events. Smith is also in his first season racing at the U23 level in USA Cycling and UCI events.

    "I'd like to go out and try to make a name for myself in the U23 races as well," said Smith. "I know it's going to be tough lining up with the pros, but I have the best bike and the best team to support. I am going to give it my all every time!."

    "The addition of Taylor Smith just adds even more depth to our incredible roster. But more importantly, it shows the commitment that Sho-Air and Cannondale have to bolstering the youth movement in cycling here in the United States," said Ty Kady, Sho-Air/Cannondale team director. "We look forward to being an integral part in Taylor's development for years to come."

  • Mellow Johnny's Classic offers equal payouts

    The elite women's start is led out by Georgia Gould (Luna)
    Article published:
    February 26, 2013, 17:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    $15,000 on the line for next weekend's US Pro XCT opener

    The first US Pro XCT of the season, the Mellow Johnny's Classic mountain bike race, is offering a total prize purse of US$15,000, one of the biggest purses in the mountain race world. The top pro men and women will enjoy equal payouts on March 2 at Flat Creek Crossing Ranch in Henly, Texas.

    Race organizers say that this purse and its distribution costs them more, but it's well worth the expense to attract the best talent of all genders, as well as positive advocacy for more female athletes getting on the trail.

    "It's a primary part of our mission, really," said Will Black, General Manager at Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop, the race organizer. "It goes back to those proven Title IX statistics. The fewer barriers we put up for women to compete, the more likely they are to participate. That's what we want."

    Mellow Johnny's Spring Classic is a UCI Category 1 mountain bike race and the first stop on USA Cycling's Pro XCT. The event will be racers' first challenge of the season, as well as the perfect chance for spectators to enjoy a day full of racing action in the beautiful Texas Hill Country at Flat Creek Crossing Ranch.

    "Flat Creek Crossing is a fantastic venue for race fans as we've set up the race circuit to give spectators the best show possible - there are lots of great viewing spots and the lap times will be fast, giving fans exposure to the pro racers going by," said Ted Arnold, Mellow Johnny's Spring Classic Team Liaison.

    In addition to elite pro men and women categories, there will be a Kid's Cup Youth Series for ages 2-12 and all USA Cycling amateur categories. Spectators can expect to see many pro athletes, including Emily Batty, Annie Last, and Sam Schultz of Trek Factory Racing to name a few.

  • National tour begins for Singletrack High Documentary

    "Singletrack High": A movie following High School riders through a season at the NorCal High School Cycling League.
    Article published:
    February 27, 2013, 14:49 GMT
    Cycling News

    Behind-the-scenes view shows impact of growing national youth movement

    A documentary showcasing the positive impacts of the high school cycling movement will begin a nationwide tour of the USA on Wednesday. Taking a close look at the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s (NICA) NorCal High School Cycling League, "Singletrack High" follows a diverse group of high school students through the 2012 mountain bike racing season.

    The national screening tour kicks off with a special screening February 27 at the Specialized Bicycle Components Headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. This will be followed by stops in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and other states, finally returning for more showings in California.

    The film explores the wide range of positive outcomes from keeping adolescents active on bikes at an age when many are "trading in two wheels for four," as one of the subjects puts it.

    NICA Executive Director, Austin McInerny, said, "We are thrilled with 'Singletrack High'! The film captures the challenges and rewards experienced by six diverse student-athletes throughout a season of racing with their respective mountain bike teams."

    "By following the riders closely and talking with their coaches and parents repeatedly over many months, the film presents a compelling explanation of the value and need for high school-based cycling teams. I am confident that even non-cyclists will want to support our efforts after seeing this film."

    Filmmaker Jacob Seigel-Boettner, who produced the film with his brother Isaac, said, "Even as former high school and collegiate cyclists, it was an eye-opener for us to see the impact that mountain bike racing has had on these kids. Being part of a high school bike team has helped them find acceptance, accept themselves, and expand their worlds. We are very grateful to the student-athletes of 'Singletrack High' and their families for opening up their lives to us, both on and off the bike. We hope that their stories...

  • Cannondale Factory Racing team presented in Italy

    The Cannondale Factory Racing enduro team riders got a two-minute head start in the MTB cross country team relay
    Article published:
    February 28, 2013, 3:39 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Fontana and Fumic joined by young talents Cooper and Swenson

    Cannondale presented its Factory Racing Team in Finale Ligure, Italy on Wednesday. The squad celebrated its accomplishments in 2012 and introduced its athletes and goals for 2013.

    Marco Fontana, Manuel Fumic, Anton Cooper and Keegan Swenson comprise the 2013 World Cup cross country team with Fontana and Fumic bringing the experience and Cooper and Swenson adding youthful enthusiasm to the mix as first-year U23 riders.

    Olympic bronze medallist Marco Fontana, 28, is the best known rider on the team.

    "As you all know, the Olympics is a big event. Winning a bronze medal changes your life," he said. "In your country, everyone knows you and finally knows about mountain biking. Now what I do is something that pushes people to do what I do, too. To do something for the sport is nice. I enjoy it."

    Fontana is still hungry for his first World Cup or world championship win, and is hoping to make the leap this season. "The sun is shining, that's a good omen. I'm looking forward to this season."

    "To step up is about details and being consistent," said Fontana, who is both the current Italian mountain bike and cyclo-cross national champion. "You find a good balance and find good speed by focusing on the details and doing everything the right way while also enjoying riding. You have to show up from the beginning with the mindset that you can win. I think we will make this happen this year."

    German national champion Fumic is the other veteran on the team. The 30-year-old is one of the most consistent riders on the World Cup circuit. He's embarking on his 13th year as a pro and is also coveting a trip to the top step of a World Cup podium. A previous U23 world champion, Fumic know what it feels like to find success at Worlds.

    For 2013, Fumic is working on his head game as well as making a few other training-related...

  • Kulhavy, Vos and Spitz set to compete in Afxentia stage race

    Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 8:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Three Olympic champions to race round 2 of Cyprus Sunshine Cup

    Three Olympic champions: Jaroslav Kulhavy, Sabine Spitz and Marianne Vos, will be competing at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup round 2 this weekend. The 17th edition of the three-day Afxentia stage race will begin on Friday afternoon in the Macheras Mountains on the Mediterranean island.

    After his victory in Voroklini last weekend, Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) will be the man to beat. Although he reported suffering stomach troubles on Tuesday, the Czech rider confirmed his start and said: "I'm ok again. I am looking forward to the race."

    Giant Pro XC teammates Fabian Giger and Emil Lindgren will be looking to upset Kulhavy. Giger was just 10 seconds behind last weekend while Lindgren was slowed by mechanical problems. Other men to watch include 2011 overall Sunshine Cup winner Karl Markt (Ötztal Scott), who pulled out last weekend due to a mechanical, Henk-Jaap Moorlag (Giant Pro XC), Kevin van Hoovels (Versluys) and Sabastian Carabin (Merida Wallonie).

    Vos a bit nervous

    Three-time Olympic medallist Sabine Spitz (Haibike) will open her season this weekend after a lot of cross country skiing.

    "The race on Friday is mentally far away," said Spitz on Twitter. The German is looking forward to sun and warmer temperatures.

    Spitz will battle Marianne Vos, the road Olympic champion who will return to mountain bike racing for the first time in her elite career. She last raced off-road when she was a junior in 2005. Vos will guest ride for Giant Pro XC when not racing for Rabobank/Liv Giant.

    "Of course, I am a bit nervous," said Vos. "It's quite a challenge, but I am looking forward to it."

    "It's a tough course, and I am not used to it," Vos added, after benefiting from some one-on-one technical skills training with Oscar...

  • Gallery: Cannondale Factory Racing trains in Italy

    2013 Cannondale Factory Racing: Marco Fontana, Keegan Swenson, Anton Cooper, Manuel Fumic
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 20:37 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Fontana, Fumic, Keegan and Swenson prep for season

    Cannondale Factory Racing held its season-opening team camp in Finale Ligure, Italy this week. Its four cross country World Cup and four overmountain riders came together for some training and general team bonding along the scenic Mediterranean coast. 

    Veterans Marco Fontana and Manuel Fumic head up the team, which also includes first-year U23 riders Anton Cooper and Keegan Swenson.

    The team also invited the media, including Cyclingnews, to join them for the team presentation and two days of fun-spirited competition with its riders, including a cross country team relay and an enduro.

    See the related photo gallery for images from several days spent in Italy.

  • Vos shines in pro mountain bike debut

    Marianne Vos rides to the win in Cyprus
    Article published:
    March 02, 2013, 22:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Rabo rider leads Cyprus Sunshine Cup

    She's been world champion on the road, the track and in cyclo-cross, but Marianne Vos needed a new challenge after her successful 2012 season on the road, where she won the Olympic gold and rainbow jersey. So she headed to the Cyprus Sunshine Cup Afxentia stage race to dabble in mountain biking and immediately found success.

    After placing a close second in the opening day's time trial, Vos powered into the lead on stage 2 thanks to a long climb which allowed her to use her strengths.

    Vos put nearly four minutes into the winner of the opening time trial, Slovenia's Blaza Klemencic, to take the overall lead in the race. She won the stage by 3:31 over Adelheid Morath and now leads the German in the standings by 3:43.

    Formerly a Dutch champion in the discipline as a junior, Vos has put her focus into cycling's other disciplines since she joined the elite ranks in 2006, yet the win still came as a surprise.

    "It’s pretty cool to win here. I didn’t expect to be so good," Vos said. Yesterday already was a surprise. "Of course, the big climbs suits me better than the downhill. I am really happy, that it worked out, incredible."

    Vos made the first selection alongside Morath, Sabine Spitz, Katrin Leumann, Klemencic, Eva Lechner and Kathin Stirnemann before going away with Morath as they reached the final ascent.

    The duo opened up a 30 second gap at the base, and in the steepest part of the climb Vos motored away from Morath.

    "I could manage to take a gap. In the descent, I tried to stay in control, not to take any risk. But it’s hard, when you have such a long climb before."

    Vos's Swiss teammate Fabian Giger (Blanco) took the lead in the men's race with a commanding stage victory over Jaroslav Kulhavy.

  • Fumic chases World Cup victory

    Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 05, 2013, 14:16 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    German national champ optimistic after most consistent season

    After his most consistent season yet, Manuel Fumic of the Cannondale Factory Racing team is hoping to make the leap from World Cup podium finisher to winner in 2013.

    "I want to have a top spot at one of the World Cups," said German cross country national champion Fumic to Cyclingnews at a recent team training camp in Finale Ligure, Italy.

    "My top favorite [candidate race] for doing so is the opening World Cup in Albstadt [Germany]," said Fumic. "I want to make it my stage and perform well. I want to show people in Germany that there is someone from Germany who can race fast. It's just 60km away from where I live, and many friends and family will come."

    Fumic is anticipating a huge turnout for the World Cup opener in Albstadt, making it the perfect place for a breakthrough victory. "We have had the German national series there - just a small race - but there were 10,000 people who came to watch. They are expecting 20,000-25,000 people at the World Cup. They have a great course there and good people running it."

    But it's not just about victory for Fumic. He's proud of the consistency he showed throughout all of 2012 and hopes to do as well again this year.

    "It's important for me to have a consistent year again, and I want to work on my world ranking position. At the moment I'm sixth or seventh, but I want to be in the top five for this year. It means a lot of racing and collecting points and being consistent all year."

    "I'm super happy with last year," he said. "I had a lot of podium spots at the World Cup and I won the nationals. I was more or less consistent from the beginning to the end, but I never had the top spot on the podium. I was second, third, fourth..."

    Improvements for this year

    When asked how he will make the step up, Fumic alluded to both physical and psychological preparations. "I'm working to improve the details. It's some things about my training....