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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Date published:
September 13, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • American women looking solid going into 2012 MTB season

    Lea Davison (United States) had her best yet Worlds
    Article published:
    September 08, 2011, 21:00 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Four finishers in top 20 at Worlds

    Despite being without one of its fastest members, the US elite women's cross country national team still put in a strong performance at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships last weekend in Champery, Switzerland. Willow Koerber, who has won bronze medals at Worlds the past two years, was absent because she is pregant with her first child. While the American women didn't make it to the podium this time, the future looks bright based on the performance of the four women who made the top 20.

    Lea Davison had her best world championship race yet with a 10th place.  Her performance came in the weeks following two of her best-yet World Cup performances.

    "It was a tough race with a bad start, so it was a game of catch up the entire race," said Davison afterward to Cyclingnews. "I cramped on lap 3 and I thought 'uh oh,' so I took it back a few notches. That leg felt better, and then my other leg started cramping. The course required very muscular riding - it took a toll."

    The 4.2km Champery course was extremely technical with roots and rocks throughout.

    The next best finisher was Heather Irmiger, one place back in 11th. It was an interesting day for the former US National Champion.

    "It was a huge mix of disappointment and satisifaction - more than I've ever felt," said Irmiger. "I was gunning for a medal, and I had the legs, but I got caught behind four different events just after the start."

    "I never went down, but kept getting stuck and passed. The final event was up the start climb and someone went down. As I went to pass them, I lost my chain and I was dead last. Nobody was...

  • Video: Cooper's first European racing experience a success

    Anton Cooper (New Zealand) had a rough start, crossing the line in 13th place after the prologue loop
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 3:38 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Young New Zealander wins World Cups and a silver at Worlds

    It was no secret in New Zealand that Anton Cooper is a fast junior cross country mountain bike racer, but it wasn't until he set foot in Europe for the first time that the rest of the world realized just how fast he was.

    "Previous to coming over here, I'd only raced in New Zealand and Australia, and I had no idea how I would go," said the recently turned 17-year-old Cooper to Cyclingnews while at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland. "To get first in that first World Cup in Czech and then first again in the Val di Sole World Cup, I was stoked. I knew I had a chance today and I had the rainbow jersey in my mind, but some days, that doesn't happen. I've got next year as well and it's my dream."

    Cooper won the silver medal in the junior men's cross country race at the mountain bike Worlds last weekend. Despite a bad start, he rode one of his best races yet to make it onto the podium.

    "It wasn't ideal, but it was probably the best race I've ridden with that comeback, so I'm proud of that," said Cooper afterward.

    "I'm not sure where I was after the first lap... It was a fight right from the start. I was struggling up that first climb to come back to the front."

    Cooper managed not to crash on a slippery, technical course and he steadily worked his way up. He bridged up to Andrey Fonseca (Costa Rica) on the final lap.

    "I caught Andrey at the top of the hill on the final lap. I couldn't make the pass at the top of that climb, but I came past him with 500m to go. then I held on to the finish." Cooper sprinted his way to silver.

    What made Cooper's riding even more impressive was a recent injury.

    "I had a bit of a forced break. I broke my collarbone 14 weeks ago," he said. "I had a few weeks on the trainer and then jumped on the road bike. I was back on the mountain...

  • Video: Season not over for Wells

    Todd Wells (USA), top N. American
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 14:52 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    US National Champion switches gears from MTB to 'cross

    The post-race chatter about it effectively being the end of the international elite mountain bike season was flying fast and furiously after the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland, this weekend. For most of the best mountain bikers who race the World Cup and Worlds, all of 2011's major races are done and only some smaller, national or regional events remain on their calendars.

    But for riders like US National Cross Country Mountain Bike and Cyclo-Cross champion Todd Wells, it's time to switch disciplines and gear up for 'cross.

    "It's funny how everyone is talking about how great it is to be done with this season," said Wells, "but for me I go straight into cyclo-cross and I don't get a break until October."

    Wells logged a career best performance at mountain bike Worlds with a seventh place finish.

    "It feels good, he said. "It's always nice to improve." He had been aiming for a top five to make an automatic qualification for the US 2012 Olympic team, but came up just a bit short.

    Speaking of his mountain bike Worlds race, he said, "I had a poor start, but I gained time in the flat sections and I'd hang on during the climbs. After it started to rain, I got a groove going," he said.

    "I generally die near the end of the race, but I kept moving up at the end, and that was a big boost for me. I was surprisingly good on the climb, too."

  • Video: Former world champion Wloszczowska settles for silver

    Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) had an untimely flat
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 18:30 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Polish rider ok with result in year's most important race

    For Poland's Maja Wloszczowska, the world championships are the most important race of the year. The cross country mountain bike racer wasn't able to defend her 2010 world title at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland, last weekend, but she had the next best result: a silver medal.

    "It's ok to have silver. I'm happy with it. I feel like a winner," said Wloszczowska. "I'm happy that Catharine (Pendrel) won."

    Wloszczowska was battling with eventual winner Pendrel (Canada), but lady luck was not on her side. She flatted about halfway into the race and lost significant time - between 1:00 and 1:30 - and while she made up much of it before the end of the contest, there were still 28 seconds between her and Pendrel at the finish.

    "I think somebody out there wanted me to have a flat tire because Catharine deserved the rainbow jersey like nobody else. I know I was strong to ride with her, but it's life and sport. I'm glad I could get the tech zone, get a wheel and still get on the podium. That was the greatest battle of my life today."

    Wloszczowska described why the Worlds are so important to her. "Everyone in Poland was looking at the Worlds. There's not much focus on the World Cup there, but there is a lot of attention on the Worlds. It's important to have a medal at the main event of the year."

    Wloszczowska was well prepared for the big day. She'd come to Champery twice beforehand to train and she also attended a high altitude camp. "Everything was done just for the Worlds," she said.

    "A lot of other races are important, but nothing like the Worlds."

    Remarking on her last year in the rainbow stripes after winning her first world title in Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2010, she said, "Definitely, it's something special to be world...

  • Video: Kulhavy enjoys first elite world championship win

    Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) in action
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 21:05 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Czech mountain bike star caps off perfect season with rainbow stripes

    Switzerland has been good to Jaroslav Kulhavy. After winning the junior cross country world championship title in Lugano in 2003, he rode to his first-ever elite cross country world title in Champery last weekend. The success capped off a perfect season for Kulhavy, who also won the overall World Cup just a few weeks ago.

    "It's an incredible season for me, the best season in my life," said Kulhavy.

    The Czech rider has taken over the dominant spot in the elite men's field this season, and he was only beaten twice at the World Cups - once by the sport's most recent dominant rider Julien Absalon and once by Nino Schurter.

    Kulhavy sat next to Absalon at the post-Worlds presscon. The Frenchman had won a bronze medal. "It's like what Julien did. I hope I will be the best like him," said Kulhavy. "My future is just beginning. I think the Olympics will be a good race for me. I hope to get a medal."

    Absalon is a two-time Olympic mountain bike champion.

    Despite winning the World Cup and being called the favorite by all his rivals going into the world championships, Kulhavy stayed cool beforehand.

    "I didn't feel pressure going into the race because my season had been so good. I was very satisfied already before this race."

    All season, Kulhavy has ridden a 29er from his trade team sponsor Specialized. He's been a fixture on a full suspension rig while his rivals switched back and forth from hardtail to full suspsension based on each course.

    "I think the 29er bike was the best option for this course because it was so fast in the technical sections," said Kulhavy. "I think it was fast on the flat sections, too. Maybe in the corners it was a little...

  • Andalucía Bike Race's second edition planned

    Kristian Hynek and Pavel Boudny (Ceska Sporitelna -Specialized) win the first Andalucia Bike Race
    Article published:
    September 13, 2011, 18:21 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Six-day mountain bike stage race showcases region of Spain

    The Andalucía Bike Race will return for its second edition from February 26 to March 2, 2012, in the provinces of Córdoba and Jaén, Spain. The locale should offer good weather for racers to kick off their season and get some early racing miles in the legs.

    The mountain bike stage race is run in the duo team format. Teams will be split into four categories: elite men, elite women, mixed and masters (each rider 30+). More than 17,000 euros will be offered as prize money for the elite men's and women's categories.

    The six-day race will be divided into a short urban prologue through the downtown of Córdoba, followed by five marathon stages. Two of these will be held in the Mediterranean forests of Sierra Morena, outside Córdoba. The third stage will start and finish at Priego de Córdoba, where if the skies are clear enough it will allow riders to see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountain range. The last two stages will take place in Jaén, a more mountainous area surrounded by endless olive tree fields.

    "Those who rode the Andalucía Bike Race 2011 will know the area but shouldn't expect the same stages; these are new and even better," said organizers.

    The first edition of the race attracted riders from 15 different countries including former cross country world champion José Antonio Hermida, who took part in the race together with former marathon world champion Ralph Näf.

    "We are discovering a new Andalucía, which we didn't expect," they had said.

    For more information, including on registration, which opens at the end of September, visit the race website at www.andaluciabikerace.com.

    See coverage of the

  • O'Dea sets new Trans North Georgia record

    Eddie O'Dea takes a break for a big meal during his record-breaking ride in the 2011 Trans North Georgia
    Article published:
    September 13, 2011, 19:38 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Six hours and 53 minutes shaved off despite heavy rains at end

    Eddie O'Dea broke his own Trans North Georgia (TNGA) record earlier this month. The Topeak-Ergon rider set out for 350 miles and 56,000 feet of climbing with 22 others on September 3 under blue skies and 60 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures, but the highs for the day would be in the upper 90s.

    The course featured a mix of forest roads, singletrack and some pavement. O'Dea immediately took to the front and never looked back.

    "In my head, I was only racing the clock to beat my time from last year." O'Dea set the course record in 2010 at 55 hours and 27 minutes.

    While the racers were underway Tropical Depression #13 became Tropical Storm Lee and began creeping northeastward. The TNGA riders were making their way westward and the two were bound to meet somewhere in the next few days.

    "I knew about the storm and knew Monday was going to be messy with lots of rain if not a full on tropical storm," said O'Dea after the race. "My goal was to be finished before it hit western Georgia." It didn't quite work out that way.

    Sunday morning, he made a brief refueling stop at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-a-Way in Ellijay, Georgia about four hours ahead of his pace last year. "I literally ate a dozen scrambled eggs and a peach. It was delicious."

    Sunday afternoon, he was on pace to finish in the early hours of Monday morning before sunrise. He made it past the infamous Snake Creek Gap section of rocky singletrack before dark and was advancing toward John's Mountain as nightfall came. "With the technical part of the route behind, I was sure I could push through the night and finish around 4:00 am. Then the rain started around 1:00 am. It was heavy for 30 minutes, but there was little wind. The real problem was the fog/cloud that was sitting on top of the ridge I was riding. I couldn't see more than 10 feet. I was also operating on one and a half hours of sleep over the last 40 hours of riding." Eventually the slow...

  • Wells pledges potential CrossVegas winnings for Windham

    Todd Wells (United States) after finishing off the team relay.
    Article published:
    September 13, 2011, 21:18 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Relief fund aids World Cup host town after Hurricane Irene

    The floods of Hurricane Irene nearly destroyed the town of Windham, New York, in recent weeks. Lives and property were lost, and several of the people responsible for bringing World Cup mountain bike racing back to the United States - all of whom are volunteers - lost their businesses or homes, and in some cases both.

    In an effort to do his part in helping Windham recover, World Cup cross country racer and reigning US cross country and cyclo-cross national champion Todd Wells (Specialized) has pledged to donate his potential prize money from the CrossVegas cyclo-cross race during the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas to the Windham Area Recreation Foundation (WARF), which is providing Windham with flood relief from Hurricane Irene.

    "My family lives about 40 miles from Windham, and their home has experienced flooding from the hurricane," said Wells. "I grew up in that area and some of my first races as a kid were at Windham. I have a lot of great memories from riding there. For several years the US lacked a World Cup event, and the people there really have a passion for racing and worked hard to bring a race to Windham. I want to support them in their recovery effort.

    "Having the World Cup back in the US is so awesome," said Wells. "The World Cup circuit is tough, and most of the events are in Europe which takes American racers out of their element and comfort zone. Having a race on our home soil makes everything familiar and gives us a great energy."

    WARF is accepting donations from all. Officials are currently determining the needs of residents and businesses by going door-to-door with recovery fact sheets and questionnaires.

    WARF is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for, develop and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities. Donations are tax deductible and will...