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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Date published:
May 1, 2012, 21:00

Edited by Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to and results, reports & photos to

  • NICA expanding with more high school MTB leagues in 2013

    NICA leagues existing and prospective
    Article published:
    April 24, 2012, 18:52
    Cycling News

    Executive Director Matt Fritzinger switching roles

    The strong growth of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) continues with applications from Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia to join the organization's Project League program. Project Leagues have access to select NICA services, providing them the needed public awareness, support, funding and momentum to become fully fledged chapter leagues.

    As many as three will be chosen for 2013 induction, and the total number of NICA leagues - now seven - will rise to as many as 10. This will bring the organization three steps closer to its goal of providing mountain biking opportunities to high school students coast to coast by 2020.

    Supporting this expansion requires a considerable depth of technical advisory experience leading up to the initial racing season. NICA's Executive Director, Matt Fritzinger, who founded NICA, and the pioneering NorCal League before that, is uniquely qualified for this job and will transition from his current role to focus on key tasks such as new league technical development and fundraising.

    "NICA is a jet plane we have built together, and it has been a great thrill to be centrally involved in building it," said Fritzinger. "This aircraft is ready to be handed over to a seasoned pilot, rather than someone who specializes in the creative work. I'm very excited about building new leagues where I can draw on a decade of operations experience. I also look forward to building relationships with new supporters who want to join this movement.'"

    Fritzinger will remain in post as Executive Director to participate in the transition. NICA is presently engaged in the search for a replacement and interviews are being handled by NICA President Rick Spittler.

    "The idea of Matt transitioning from Executive Director to special projects was a joint decision by Matt and the NICA Board," said Spittler. "Since Matt is continuing in his role until a new Executive Director is found, there will be no disruption in any races or day-to-day activities. Matt is simply refocusing to accommodate NICA's incredible growth. He has built the organization from one league in Northern California to something that will be nationwide in the next decade, and now he's going to focus solely on that goal."

    For a job description and application instructions click here.

  • South Africa welcomes Singlepseed Worlds

    Singlespeed Worlds 2012 Logo
    Article published:
    April 24, 2012, 21:00
    Cycling News

    Beer shortcuts among promises made by organizers

    The town of Winterton, South Africa will host the 2012 Singlespeed World Championships on September 29. While the majority of the field will be there to dress up in batty outfits and party all night long after the race, some will be there for the beer shortcuts, a signature of this annual leapfrogging global event.

    Some will come to win the rights to host SSWC2013 in their country. Some will be there to get the tattoo reserved for the winners and yet others will simply come to make friends and experience the awe inspiring riding of the KwaZulu Natal bushveld.

    There are no UCI points on the line and no qualification procedure. The only rule is that bikes are limited to one gear.

    Organizers have said that local registration thus far has been strong, and they are hoping to attract more international riders to keep the event's global vibe strong. Entries are limited to 1000 riders.

    They are running the event as a not-for-profit. "Besides covering hard costs and giving up our time for free, any extra loot we make is going straight into the immediate community; not a back pocket in sight!" said a statement on their website.

    The 2010 Singlespeed Worlds were held in New Zealand. Last year's Worlds were held in Ireland, where South Africa won the right to host this year's event.

    For more information, visit

  • Video: Last on track with Olympic preparations

    British racer Annie Last
    Article published:
    April 25, 2012, 09:07
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Young British rider hopeful for chance to go to London

    Annie Last (Milka-Brentjens) has been pleased with her preparations thus far for the 2012 London Olympic Games. But before she can get too focussed on details for the big day in August, she has to qualify to be one of the 30 women selected to be on the start line.

    "It is going really well," said Last. "We get the nations qualification in May. Hopefully we'll qualify a place, and I'll be able to get that. We're chipping away at scoring points. For me personally, my training and racing are going in the right direction." Just this weekend, she won round 2 of the British Cross Country Series at Dalby Forest.

    Last is hoping she will help qualify Great Britain to send a rider to the Olympics and that she is the rider her federation selects to go to London.

    The number of riders each nation gets to send will be determined after World Cup round 4 in La Bresse. Last expects to hear sometime in June whether or not she will race the Olympics if, in fact, Great Britain does get to send a female representative.

    Thinking optimistically, Last has taken several chances to check out the 2012 London Olympic mountain bike course.

    "All nations got to ride the course the other week and I had a look then," she said. "It's really good. I think that quite a lot of sections were widened with more options to overtake. The new rock garden is a good feature - it's quite a wide rock garden with a lot of lines - there is no one that's the fastest."

    "It will be interesting to see us all going in different directions over it. People can take different lines and you might even pass people and make up time on that section."

    While many riders have already announced their intentions to race 29ers on the course, Last is sticking with the more traditional, smaller wheels.

    "I will ride a 26-inch bike hardtail Boardman bike. I like it and I think it's the bike I've always ridden and it suits me. I think it will be a good bike for the course."

    Her team manager Bart Brentjens also got to see the course recently. The 1996 Olympic mountain bike champion offered his comments. "London is a really handmade course. The trails are built by design, especially the rock gardens. The descents are pretty technical and could be dangerous for some riders. You need good skills to ride well and fast. If you have the skills to ride well, you can go fast. If you know the course well, you'll be fast. The differences are in the descent - that's where it will be made."

    World Cup success

    Last opened round 1 of the UCI World Cup with a bang in South Africa. Near the beginning of the race, she led the elite women's field - impressive considering Last is one of just a few U23 riders who have chosen to race among the elites in the World Cup this season.

    The time in the front was a real boost to Last's confidence. "That was the first time I'd been at the front of an elite World Cup race. It is so different being at the front of a world class bike races vs. being top 15 or 20. The riders around you are the best. if you're at the front, you have a clear run. It makes it easier. You don't have to fight for the singletrack. You can ride your own race. It was a great experience. Hopefully, I can get to the front again next time and then I'll know more what to expect."

    "If you ride at the front, you see that you can do that. It means the next time you know you can do it and maybe for longer," she said.

    In Houffalize, Belgium, at round 2 of the UCI World Cup, Last started in ninth - in the second row.

    "I got a good start. I kind of settled into 10th place and then slipped back during the race. Overall, it went quite well." She finished 20th, just two days after she won the first-ever UCI Eliminator World Cup.

    After two rounds, she is ranked in 11th in the World Cup standings.

    A new year, a new team

    In 2012, Last is racing for the Milka-Brentjens team, a special UCI-registered team created just for her. She was not included in the Milka-Superior team, also run by Bart Brentjens, because she had a long term relationship with Boardman Bikes and wanted to stay aboard the company's equipment.

    "We were wanted to get Annie onto our team, but we had already signed the contract with Superior bikes," said Brentjens, explaining how the situation came to be. "It was a difficult situation. Our solution was to come up with a second team, Milka-Brentjens, so she could ride her own program and stay with national team and do her own preparation for the Olympics."

    "She can get the benefits of our team in general, but she still can ride her preferred mountain bikes and work with her national team."

    Read part 1 of the Annie Last interview.

    The videos below include Last and Brentjens talking about the 2012 Olympics as well as some helmet cam footage of the course.

    Use this on all articles. The player is narrow enough to fit next to the article gallery images box on the right.
  • Rose Vaujany Gravity team presented

    The Rose Vaujany Team is officially presented
    Article published:
    April 25, 2012, 16:44
    Cycling News

    New team presented in Vaujany

    The new Rose Vaujany Gravity Mountain Bike Team was presented recently to media and the public in Vaujany, France, which is one of the title sponsors of the squad.

    Vaujany is a small community in the Isère department in south-eastern France. The area is known for its winter sports activities, but it also features mountain biking in the summer.

    Rose Vaujany team members will help develop trails and to expand the network of routes in Vaujany. As part of the presentation, team members also enjoyed riding the mostly natural surface trails.

    The Rose Vaujany team, founded this season by Dutchman Joost Wichman, is travelling around Europe to participate in downhill, enduro and four cross races. Joost Wichman is on the team along with Nico Vink (Bel), Katy Curd (GBr), Petrik Bruekner (Ger), Daniel Prijkel (Ned) and Leo Combee (Ned).

  • Giant Mid-Atlantic team launched for 2012

    Forrest Conrad
    Article published:
    April 25, 2012, 20:43
    Cycling News

    Pro mountain bike team focuses on developing east coast talent

    Blasting into its third season, the Giant Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Team looks to continues to balance its goals of dominating races and developing riders in the northeast. To take on this challenge, new member Forrest Conrad will join returning riders Matt Miller, Seamus Powell, and Jordan Kahlenberg. Conrad, who is in his last season as a junior, has already begun to make a presence in the regional elite races.

    As a group, the team is setting its collective focus on domestic cross country races, with forays into various endurance and stage race events. Powell, in his second year with the team, will again be looking towards US Pro XCT, Canada Cup, and domestic World Cup events in order to gain a spot on the U23 Worlds team. Based in Round Top, New York, he will also race regional Route 66 and New York State MTB Series events.

    Miller and Kahlenberg have both ridden with the team since its inception, and both will be making starts at US Pro XCT and US Cup Triple Crown East events. While Kahlenberg will be looking at more US Pro XCT events, Miller will make forays into various endurance and stage race events, such as the Transylvania Epic stage race. Both riders will also race regional H2H/Campmor and Mid-Atlantic Super Series events, with highlight on the Pennsylvania State Championship event at Bear Creek Mountain Resort. Bear Creek will be playing host to the 2013 and 2014 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, and this event will serve as a preview of the course.

    New member Conrad is a fresh face to the sport, being only 17 and entering his last season as a junior. In his 2011 season, Conrad showed he had what it takes by racing regularly with the older elite categories, besting more experienced riders and showing steady improvement. He will race a mixture of regional and national level events in preparation for national championships, where he aims to crack the podium in the junior event.

    Giant Bicycle continues as title sponsor for the team, supplying the competitors with 2012 Anthem X Advanced SL and XTC Composite 29er frames. "The Giant Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Team has proven they need the best in off-road performance bikes and the Anthem X Advanced SL delivers," said Brad Klipping, Marketing Manager for Giant USA. "We're stoked to partner again with the Giant Mid-Atlantic squad."

    For more information on the team, visit

    2012 Giant Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Team Roster
    Matt Miller
    Seamus Powell
    Jordan Kahlenberg
    Forrest Conrad

  • Kabush continues winning streak in Arizona

    Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) being interviewed before the race
    Article published:
    April 30, 2012, 22:10
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Canadian's Olympic season off to good start

    Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) doubled up on success this weekend by winning both the Fat Tire Criterium on Friday and the 50-miler at the Whiskey Off Road Race on Sunday in Prescott, Arizona.

    "It was a nice, fun weekend to fit in," said Kabush to Cyclingnews. "It was easy to fit in my schedule between Sea Otter and the next World Cups."

    It was the first time Kabush had ever raced the Whiskey Off Road Race. He was drawn by the race's reputation, the tough competition, fun trails and the strong prize list.

    "The Whiskey Off Road is a model for racing in the US. It was neat to see how behind the event the town of Prescott was," said Kabush, who made the drive from his base in New Mexico. "It's not often I can drive to an event like that."

    He added that the event reminded him of another popular event back home in Canada, the Test of Metal.

    Kabush got his legs going with the Fat Tire Crit on Friday. It had been years since he'd done that kind of event although Fat Tire Crits used to be quite popular at major North American mountain bike events. "That was not an easy way to get into the weekend," he said. "They put the steepest grade in Prescott in to the Fat Tire Crit. It was relentless, especially with the altitude."

    Two days later, Kabush crossed the line of the 50-miler in first place. He had chased down Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) earlier in the race, but the two were caught by a group of about 15 going into a long climb.

    "I'd hoped to stay away with JHK, but we swelled up into a huge lead group for what led into a 16-mile climb. I wasn't sure how it would shake down. There were some wild cards in there like the Colombian guys and JHK and Xterra World Champion Conrad Stoltz."

    "By the top, there were six of us. JHK and I put some pressure on and we, along with Markus (Bauer), pulled away. From the peak, I knew I had 30 minutes to go, mostly descending to the finish with one exception, Cramp Hill. I got a small gap on JHK and went full gas.

    Kabush's two wins at the Whiskey Off Road came one week after he'd won the cross country race at the Sea Otter Classic and two weekends after he'd ridden to a strong 11th place at the Houffalize World Cup.

    The Canadian is pleased with the start of his season, writing off a tough day at the World Cup opener in South Africa, where he finished 37th.

    "This whole winter was fantastic for me. With the training and the change to Scott - 3Rox, everything but the week in South Africa has been going great. But I tried not to put too much into that - with all the travel - a day and a half each way." He noted that he is already almost up to 40,000 miles on his frequent flier account so far this season.

    "I was happy to bounce back in Houffalize and get the results I felt like I should be seeing with my training. Things seem to be rolling great with the wins at Sea Otter and this weekend at the Whiskey 50."

    Kabush will take the weekend off and head back to Vancouver for some testing before he races the next two rounds of the World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic and La Bresse, France.

    "I feel like racing this weekend, I was continuing to build strength. I want to be racing in the top 10 and challenging for the World Cup podium at the next two European rounds."

    Looking a bit longer term, Kabush is hoping for a solid performance at the 2012 London Olympic Games in August. It looks likely that Canada will qualify two men, and Kabush is riding well in his bid to claim one of those spots.

    "Not that I needed much more, but the Olympics did add motivation in the off-season. The Canadian national team has been great at preparing us. I'm hoping to pull something special out. We're pretty likely to send two Canadian men. I should be heading to London, but there will be some difficult decisions coming up for the Canadian Selection Committee."

    Kabush has been racing under new colors for 2012, with the Scott-3Rox Team. The change from his long-time sponsor Rocky Mountain has worked out well for him. "Obviously you don't ever want to have to look for a new team in the off season, but it's neat to have a great group of Canadians now. We're having a ton of fun traveling. The support from Scott has been fantastic and I've been able to keep a lot of my long-time sponsors.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews to follow Kabush's racing at the next two rounds of the UCI World Cup.

  • U23 racer Ferrand Prevot excels among elite women

    Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo-Giant Offroad)
    Article published:
    May 1, 2012, 16:02
    Cycling News

    Young French mountain biker could be headed to London Olympic Games

    French woman Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabobank-Giant) turned some heads with her fourth place finish at the Houffalize World Cup last month. Finishing as the second French woman after runner-up Julie Bresset, Ferrand Prevot put in a performance that was a huge first step toward qualification for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

    Ferrand Prevot, who also excels in road competitions, is racing the mountain bike World Cups in the elite category, even though the 20-year-old is technically an under 23 rider. She is one of just five U23 women doing so this season.

    The 2009 and 2010 junior cross country world champion stepped up her training this winter by working with Simon Rogier, who has focused on improving her technical riding according to She is also getting advice on descending from former Spanish pro Oscar Saiz and on her physical form from Gerard Brocks.

    The technical work seems to be paying off. "Fourth place in Houffalize... it's not a surprise, I knew she was capable of that," said Rogier to "I followed the race live, and I could see that she had nothing to envy about the techniques of the three girls in front."

    In addition to Bresset, the other French women vying for Olympic team spots are Sabrina Enaux and Cecile Ravanel. Were Ferrand Prevot to be selected to the French Olympic team, she would be the youngest French rider selected since mountain biking became an Olympic sport in Atlanta in 1996.

    Ferrand Prevot will race the next two World Cups in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic and La Bresse, France. Both play an important role in Olympic qualifications for nations and individuals. The UCI will determine how many racers each nation can send to the Olympics after the La Bresse World Cup, and the French Olympic team will be decided in early June.

  • Two more World Cups to determine Olympic MTB participation

    Julien Absalon (Orbea Racing Team) and Nino Schurter (Scott - Swisspower MTB Racing Team)
    Article published:
    May 1, 2012, 19:55
    Cycling News

    Nations Olympic rankings as of May 1, 2012

    In just a few weeks, mountain bike fans will know exactly how many athletes each nation will send to the 2012 London Olympic Games. What happens in the meantime are two back-to-back UCI Mountain Bike World Cups, one in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on May 11-13 and one in La Bresse, France on May 18-20.

    On May 23, 2012, the UCI will establish the UCI Olympic Qualification Ranking, and by June 1, it will have confirmed the number of qualifying spots for each nation.

    The final rankings are based the total number of points a nation has for the combined periods of 2010-2011 as of May 23, 2011 and 2011-2012 as of May 23, 2012.


    For the men, the top five ranked nations will send three athletes each while nations ranked sixth through 13th will send two athletes each. Nations number 14 through 24 get one rider each.

    Here is how it looks as of May 1:

    Countries likely to send three male mountain bikers
    Czech Republic

    Countries likely to send two male mountain bikers
    South Africa
    United States

    Countries likely to send one male mountain biker
    Great Britain

    The five top-ranked powerhouse nations are no surprise and are not too likely to change. The division between sending one and two male riders is much tighter with just 200 points separating Canada (sending two as of current rankings) and Australia (sending one as of current rankings).

    Countries like New Zealand are not too far below the cut-off for sending one rider, but if they do not qualify by this primary criterion, they may be able to send a rider by a second qualifying criterion. If a nation does not already qualify athletes via the aforementioned international rankings system, it can send one male athlete each if it is in the top two ranked nations in the continental regions of Africa, American, Asia or Oceania.


    For the women, the top eight ranked nations get to send two riders each while those ranked ninth through 18th send one each.

    Here is how the women's standings look as of May 1:

    Countries likely to send two female mountain bikers
    United States

    Countries likely to send one female mountain biker
    Czech Republic
    New Zealand
    Great Britain

    In the women's rankings most of the powerhouse mountain bike countries are ranked about where expected although Australia and Spain are not qualified as per current nations rankings per criterion one. However, per criterion two, the top ranked nation, not qualified by virtue of nations rankings above may send one female rider each if ranked first in Africa, American, Asia or Oceania.

    The United States women have reason to be nervous about whether they will get to send one or two women to London. They sit perched just on the two-women side of the cut-off currently, but places sixth through ninth in the rankings are all within 500 points of each other.

    What happens next

    Once the nations rankings are finalized, countries have until June 15, 2012 to confirm they will use all earned spots and if there are any unused spots, they will get re-allocated on June 29, 2012. Entries are due to the London 2012 Organising Committee by July 2, 2012.

    Complete nations rankings as of May 1, 2012 are below.  See also the Cyclingnews guide to Olympic Mountain Biking.

    Nations Rankings as of May 1

    Elite men nations ranking as of May 1
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Switzerland 4987  pts
    2 France 4659  
    3 Czech Republic 4139  
    4 Germany 3347  
    5 Spain 3223  
    6 Italy 2750  
    7 Netherlands 2418  
    8 Austria 2090  
    9 Poland 1912  
    10 Belgium 1888  
    11 South Africa 1826  
    12 United States 1797  
    13 Canada 1754  
    14 Australia 1554  
    15 Japan 1342  
    16 Great Britain 1329  
    17 Sweden 1239  
    18 Argentina 1129  
    19 Brazil 1092  
    20 Hungary 1038  
    21 Russia 1023  
    22 Denmark 1002  
    23 Portugal 948  
    24 Cyprus 894  
    25 Ukraine 879  
    26 New Zealand 826  
    27 Greece 780  
    28 Turkey 660  
    29 Norway 654  
    30 Chile 604  
    31 Finland 578  
    32 Estonia 562  
    33 Slovakia 554  
    34 Israel 520  
    35 Colombia 503  
    36 Iran 471  
    37 Serbia 465  
    38 Mexico 457  
    39 Costa Rica 438  
    40 Kazakhstan 391  
    41 Slovenia 342  
    42 Namibia 310  
    43 Venezuela 308  
    44 Malaysia 306  
    45 China 295  
    46 Ireland 294  
    47 Latvia 288  
    48 Hong Kong, China 286  
    49 Puerto Rico 285  
    50 Croatia 281  
    51 Romania 278  
    52 Georgia 275  
    53 Lesotho 273  
    54 Zimbabwe 270  
    55 El Salvador 270  
    56 Bulgaria 220  
    57 Indonesia 220  
    58 Thailand 135  
    59 Korea 60  
    60 Brunei Darussalam 60  
    61 Guam 55  
    62 Guatemala 47  
    63 Ecuador 28  
    64 Nepal 24  
    65 Bolivia 22  
    66 Singapore 21  
    67 Chinese Taipei 17  
    68 Lebanon 12  
    69 Mongolia 2  
    70 Belarus 1  
    Elite women's nations ranking as of May 1
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Canada 4480  pts
    2 France 4091  
    3 Switzerland 3745  
    4 Poland 3230  
    5 Slovenia 3101  
    6 Norway 2989  
    7 Germany 2791  
    8 United States 2572  
    9 Russia 2513  
    10 Czech Republic 2374  
    11 Italy 2267  
    12 New Zealand 2209  
    13 Ukraine 2016  
    14 Austria 2013  
    15 Great Britain 1907  
    16 Sweden 1796  
    17 Netherlands 1765  
    18 Denmark 1696  
    19 Hungary 1489  
    20 Australia 1230  
    21 Spain 1184  
    22 Turkey 1107  
    23 Japan 957  
    24 Slovakia 873  
    25 Mexico 799  
    26 Brazil 760  
    27 Argentina 686  
    28 Israel 666  
    29 Estonia 584  
    30 Chile 573  
    31 Belgium 561  
    32 China 550  
    33 South Africa 549  
    34 Portugal 546  
    35 Serbia 544  
    36 Colombia 535  
    37 Costa Rica 488  
    38 Finland 414  
    39 Malaysia 405  
    40 Cyprus 402  
    41 Venezuela 326  
    42 Ireland 317  
    43 Puerto Rico 300  
    44 Latvia 292  
    45 El Salvador 270  
    46 Greece 270  
    47 Croatia 269  
    48 Namibia 200  
    49 Ecuador 179  
    50 Zimbabwe 110  
    51 Lesotho 110  
    52 Bulgaria 110  
    53 Korea 105  
    54 Vietnam 85  
    55 Chinese Taipei 75  
    56 Thailand 60  
    57 Dominican Republic 45  
    58 Nepal 45  
    59 Romania 38  
    60 Malta 25  
    61 Lithuania 12