"I had two positive tests for pregnancy the day before the World Cup in South Africa. I am six weeks along," wrote Koerber in her blog.
"With my team's support, I chose not to start the World Cup. At his point in my life, I could never forgive myself if something happened to this little soul who obviously has some wonderful reasons for choosing me as his mother. The timing doesn't seem perfect, but in the case of new life, the timing is somehow always perfect isn't it?"
Koerber had not felt well the previous two weeks was was lacking in overall energy. After obtaining the pregnancy test results, fiancé and former downhill world Champion Myles Rockwell was the first to get the call, and shortly thereafter Koerber spoke to Trek World Racing Team Director Martin Whiteley.
"Obviously this is a bittersweet development for Willow who on one hand was ready to take on the world in season 2011, yet on the other hand, is now expecting her first child with all the joy and excitement that brings," said Whiteley.
"One thing is clear, we as a team are fully supportive of Willow in this new development and while this was not the plan, life is not predictable and all the team members have been so supportive since she spoke with everyone last night at dinner."
Koerber was headed home to the US starting on Monday and said she is now aiming to return to racing next spring.
"If you were to ask me my plan now, it starts with shifting from overwhelmed to excited, from bittersweet to full of joy and from doubt into trust," wrote Koerber. "I plan to continue to ride and exercise day to day, to write the book I have been talking about, to nurture myself, my baby, Myles and his son, and to be back in World Cup action next spring."
While still at the World Cup, Koerber spoke with Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa, a many time World Cup winner and former World Champion, who offered words of encouragement. Dahle Flesjaa has a two-year-old son and is back racing at the elite level.
The 2011 European iXS Downhill Cup series will kick off in Monte Tamaro, Switzerland, with round one this weekend, April 30 - May 1. More than 300 racers are expected to take to the start.
The free category filled shortly after registration was opened and the licensed categories were not too far behind, but the series organizers are emphasizing quality, not quantity.
Defending champion Nick Beer (Scott 11) will be back to defend his series title as he goes for his fourth overall win. However, each year the competition gets tougher as many World Cup racers are expected to attend, fresh off round 1 of the international series last weekend in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Male starters for the Monte Tamaro round include former junior world champion Brook MacDonald (Evil Bikes), Adam Vagner (RockMachine), Wyn Masters (Kenda Playbiker) and Red Bull cyclist Filip Polc (Evil Bikes). National champions Marcus Klausmann (Ghost ATG) of Germany and Lorenzo Suding (Black Arrows) of Italy are also on the list.
In the women's race, Miriam Ruchti (Suspension Center) is the obvious favorite, but she will not find it easy to repeat her overall victory this season.
Barel had suffered a horrific injury following a crash last season just prior to the opening round of the 2010 World Cup in early May. He broke his femur and underwent surgery to pin it back together. The rest of his season was dedicated to recovery and rehabilitation.
With no UCI points after missing last season, Barel was the last one down the track for qualifying. Despite catching some back markers along the way, he pedaled to a sixth place in a good, clean run.
In the final run, under sunny and dry conditions, Barel pushed himself hard on the upper part and rode clean and fast, giving him the third fastest split time. He knew he would have to save energy for the pedaling as he is not yet 100 percent recovered from his injury.
Everything was going to plan until he landed one of the jumps in the middle section a little hard on the saddle and broke the rail. Maybe this gave him the motivation to stand up and pedal harder.
By the time he came into the final four cross section, he was battling to focus due to his fatigue and slammed hard into a rock with his rear wheel, loosing air as he struggled to stay on his lines, but he managed to hold it to the finish and earn himself his first World Cup podium finish for 2011.
The Frenchman ended up in fourth place, 4.246 seconds after Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing), Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Gee Atherton (Commencal).
Barel heads next to Lourdes, France for a regional race and training camp.
The town of Wilmington, New York, will host one of three qualifiers for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. The race on June 19 will provide 100 qualifying spots allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers.
"The Town of Wilmington is very excited to be hosting the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k," said Randy Preston, Town of Wilmington Supervisor. "As a national caliber event, it will bring the best of the best from the competitive mountain bike set to the Northeast. We are anxious to show the world what mountain biking in the Adirondacks is all about."
This Adirondack qualifier will traverse 100 kilometers of back country trails in the towns of Wilmington and Jay and will finish on Whiteface Mountain.
The event's schedule coincides with the annual Wilmington Bike Fest, which includes the Whiteface Uphill Bike Race, which will be held on Saturday, June 18. Wilmington/Whiteface 100K participants are invited to "warm up" by riding in the mountain bike division that is being introduced this year; a five-mile race to the top of the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway.
"The event is a perfect fit for the destination, as it supports the Whiteface Region‘s brand as a biking destination, and will increase visitor activity during the typically slower shoulder season," said James McKenna, President of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid CVB.
"This is another event that resulted from the cooperative partnerships that were cemented in order to successfully host the Empire State Winter Games. Kudos to the staff at the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) who facilitated the connection with the event organizers that ultimately brought this event to Wilmington."
The Leadville Qualifying Series races will include races in the Adirondacks, Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies. The other two qualifiers will be held in North Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, on July 10 and Crested Butte, Colorado, on July 31.
"Besides the opportunity to qualify for the Leadville Trail 100, these races will be superb opportunities to celebrate the sport of mountain biking," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports.
Racing in Århus kicks off a year with more UCI points on offer
The Danish mountain bike national series, the Apfossliga.dk - Powered by SRAM, will kick off on Sunday, May 1. It is the highest ranking series in Northern Europe and is offering increased UCI points and categories for 2011, which the organizers hope will draw more participation from abroad.
"We have deliberately tried to plan the race series so it wont collide with the German Bundesliga or the Norwegian Norgescup. We believe that with high quality courses, well organized events, a lot more altitude gain and more technical courses, we will continue to draw foreign visitors for our races," said Kristian Skjødt, National team manager and founder of the race series. Those extra UCI points should come in handy as riders and nations gear up for Olympic Games qualification.
The first race of the series in Århus, categorized as a C3, is drawing Annika Langvad. Last weekend, she finished 13th in the World Cup in South Africa, and she is a bronze medal winner at the marathon World Championships. Langvad is one of about 300 starters expected.
"The race venue is close to my hometown and my family. The race organization is great, so it's a double win for me to race in Århus this weekend," said Langvad. "I'm very much looking forward to the races in Varde and Kolding, where hopefully a lot of international riders will also attend."
Emil Lindgren (Rabobank - Giant Offroad Team), along with the Norwegian and Swedish national teams, will also be racing.
Those upcoming races are a double event over the national holidays with a C1 race (the first of its kind in Denmark) in Varde on June 2 and a C2 race in Kolding on June 4. The fourth round, also a C2, will be held in Aalborg on August 28 and will double as the Nordic Championships. The series will wrap up with the last round in Copenhagen on September 18, the weekend just prior to the road world championships.
2011 Danish Mountain Bike Series
May 1 - Århus
June 2 - Varde
June 4 - Kolding
August 28 - Aalborg
September 18 - Copenhagen
Video: 2010 World Cup champion aims for Worlds medal in 2011
Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Cycling) is off to her first 50-mile cross country mountain bike race in Arizona this weekend at the Whiskey 50. The 2010 UCI World Cup champion is used to going very fast for shorter distances, but is looking forward to seeing how she can do over the longer distance.
"Events like the Whiskey 50 are fun," the 30-year-old Pendrel told Cyclingnews. "It's easier to get to know the people who are just taking up mountain biking or just do it as a lifestyle, not professionally."
Pendrel does have experience going long - she has raced the BC Bike Race, but said this is her first time competing in a single-day long mountain bike race.
"I've done back-to-back long days at the BC Bike Race, but I haven't done 85km in a mountain bike race." Pendrel said she's raced for up to four hours at a time and is expecting the Whiskey 50 to take a similar amount of time as the BC Bike Race stages were shorter, but more technical.
Pendrel got her World Cup racing start last weekend in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, with a solid fourth place finish. She was 2:44 behind winner Ren Chengyuan (Specialized).
Going into this season, Pendrel was optimistic. "It's always the same kinds of feelings every year. You wonder how you came out of the winter and how everybody else came out of the winter," said Pendrel. "I feel good. That first race [at the US Pro XCT] in Fontana went really well."
In 2011, Pendrel will focus on her usual priorities: the World Cup races and the world championships. She'll also compete in select national series events in the US and Canada along with a few more regional events like the Test of Metal, where she can spend time with friends and family nearer to where she lives in Kamloops, British Columbia.
"The World Cup overall is always a secondary goal. My first goal is to ride my best at every race," said Pendrel. "I don't go in with the intention of 'I want to win the overall.' I go in with the intention of being the best rider and maybe that gets me the overall."
Thinking of the Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, and Windham, New York, United States World Cup rounds in July, Pendrel said, "I love doing the World Cup races in North America because your family can be there. But I love all the races and courses and seeing how everybody is every year."
Pendrel is also looking forward to the Olympic Test event in the United Kingdom. "It will be interesting to see what that looks like in person." After all, it's not all that much more than a year to go until the 2012 Olympic Games.
One thing she's missing in her successful career so far is a medal at the world championships. "It's time that I find out how to get a medal there. I need to figure out how to put everything together on the day."
Her best finish so far was fourth place at Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2010. She was part of a three-woman battle for the silver and bronze medals. Unfortunately for her, she came out fourth.
"I was six seconds from silver, it was so close. That made the race for me. If I had been fourth without such a tight battle, it would have been harder," said Pendrel. "But you know I was there and it came down to some minor mistakes and hopefully, I can reflect upon that and see how to not let that happen again."
This year's mountain bike Worlds will be in Champery, Switzerland. It's a venue Pendrel has previously raced in World Cups "The cross country course is really good. It's one of, if not the most, challenging technical courses out there.
"The course is almost like two separate courses. You have one side that is steep uphill, steep downhill with a rough descent which I think suits me perfectly. The other half is undulating in kind of mucky terrain. Just figuring out how to best put the power down on the undulating terrain with lots of corners is key.
"Hard climbing and technical riding is to my advantage. I'm a good power to weight rider. I can maintain going hard and don't always need the recovery that some people need in sections.
"Plus there is a more technical element they added last year with two very, very sharp switchbacking corners into a drop, which is a fairly intimidating drop. It's very decisive whether you take that line or go around. It adds like 15 seconds per lap if you go around. I didn't ride it last year, but I'm looking forward to trying it this year."
Pendrel is still figuring out what it takes to medal at Worlds. "If I have to adjust my training to be there more on the day of world championships, that's something I will try to do."
The blonde Canadian will also be racing her national championships this summer, where she hopes to defend her title. She's a two-time national champion, but this year's win may be even tougher. "Marie Helen Premont had the title six times before that, and she just announced she's continuing until 2012, so she's got renewed focus. She didn't compete at nationals last year because she had bronchitis."
Pendrel is part of the powerful Luna Women's Pro Cycling Team, which is celebrating its 10th season. She regular races with teammates Georgia Gould and Katerina Nash.
"The 10th year is a fun year for a team. I think we may be the longest running team with one single title sponsor. It's awesome to be a part of this team. The company is doing this because it wants to promote role models for women - it's not just a sales angle. It helps make the team sustainable and look what's come of it? We're the number one team in the world."
Jason English looking to add third title in as many weeks
Round 2 of the Real Insurance XCM Series is set for Sunday, May 1 with the sold-out Dirt Works 100km NSW. Over 1700 riders with a large elite contingent will tackle the course at St Albans, near Wisemans Ferry in Australia.
Current women's series leader Jenny Fay will be out to defend her title and hold onto the leader's jersey, while men's series leader Dylan Cooper will be forfeiting his jersey to next in line.
"I will be flying to Argentina while the Dirt Works event is on, so I won't be able to compete" Cooper said.
Now in its seventh year, the event attracts tier one riders from around the country and is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most challenging mountain bike races.
One who is definitely relisihing the event, is current 24 hour mountain bike world champion Jason English, and the Australian is hoping to make the race his third title in three weeks after winning the Australian Marathon Championships on April 17 and the National 24 Hour Championships last weekend.
“The Dirt Works Classic is a crown jewel among the Australian mountain biking community. Riders travel from across the country to take a shot at it and the contest on track is always intense,” Mr English said.
A member of the Merida Flight Centre mountain bike team, Mr English last won the race in 2009 and is hoping to continue his recent good form to retake the title.
The 100km course starts and finishes in the Saint Albans region, 105km north-west of Sydney and follows the historic Convict Trail through the Dharug and Yengo National Parks.
“The course is a mix up of single track, fire trails, dirt roads and tarmac which add a lot of variety and unpredictability to the race,” English said.
“Tactically, the margin for error is very small. There are some demanding climbs and very rocky descents throughout.”
Mr English said the race was a very different prospect to last week’s 24 hour title.
“Three tough events on consecutive weekends is a huge challenge but I’m really looking forward to it. You always want to go up against the best and some of Australia’s elite endurance riders will be lining up,” he said.
“Riding 100km in one stretch is a huge change in style to a 24 hour race. The tactics and pacing are totally different.
“Fatigue catches up after recovering from the last two events but getting back on the bike is what endurance riding is all about.”
Organised by Maximum Adventure, the Dirt Works 100km Classic NSW is one of Australia's first marathon style events. It features a mix of fast fire trail, technical singletrack, rocky descents and spectacular ridgeline views.
The aim of the Real Insurance XCM Series is to combine the biggest marathon mountain bike events in NSW into a high profile racing series.
With his absence, “we lose the opportunity to go for the points jersey," said directeur sportif Luca Guercilena. "But we are confident in both Wouter Weylandt and Davide Viganò. They have shown good condition recently, and we believe they can be competitive in the sprints."
The newly-formed Luxembourg team is not looking for overall placings at its first-ever Grand Tour. "We go to the Giro to make the most of breakaway opportunities," Guercilena said. "We want to show that we are fighters. This is one of the most important parts of our identity as a team. We want to fight and dig deep."
“This is the first big Tour for Leopard Trek in the history of the team, it is natural that we want to show our full capacity."
The team's full line-up for the Giro d'Italia is Dominic Klemme, Tom Stamsnijder, Bruno Pires, Thomas Rohregger, Fabian Wegmann, Oliver Zaugg, Brice Feillu, Davide Viganò and Wouter Weylandt.