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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Date published:
September 20, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Astana's Vaitkus makes off-season marathon appearance

    Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) taking his turn in the break today.
    Article published:
    September 13, 2011, 23:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Road pro to compete in Estonian mountain bike marathon championships

    Tomas Vaitkus (Astana Cycling Team) will be at the start line of the 14th annual SEB Tartu Rattamaraton taking place in Estonia on September 18. The Lithuanian pro road cyclist won the Tartu GP in 2005 and is a former teammate of Lance Armstrong. Vaitkus has spent this year riding for Astana along with Estonian Tanel Kangert, the winner of Tartu Rattamaraton last year.

    Vaitkus is modest when it comes to the plans regarding the upcoming marathon. "I haven't set any major goals for Tartu Rattamaraton. So far I have only competed in a few small mountain bike races in Lithuania.

    "Besides, my season is closed by now and I am not training seriously since my last road race, Hamburg's Vattenfall Cyclassics Therefore the main aim is to try the marathon, to see how I feel. I want to see if I can ride well."

    Allan Oras, the winner of Tartu Rattamaraton as well as the European Marathon Championship in 2009, noted Vaitkus's talent. "He is definitely one of the strongest riders. I believe his physique and the marathon track will show if he can compete against the other elite riders on the South Estonian landscape." Oras has competed in the Tartu Rattamaraton for 10 years and is signed up again this year.

    All together more than 5000 cyclists are expected to take part. Participants can choose between two different distances - 89km and 40km. The 89km event will double as the Estonian marathon national championships.

    For more information on the race, visit

  • 2012 Whiskey Off-Road Race offers $30,000 cash purse

    Racers at the Whiskey Off Road Race in Arizona
    Article published:
    September 14, 2011, 1:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Equal prize payout on tap for nine-year-old event

    The next Whiskey Off-Road Mountain Bike Event in Prescott, Arizona, is set for April 27-29, 2012. For its ninth running, Tucson, Arizona-based Epic Rides has raised the prize purse of the race to $30,000 - evenly distributed between male and female competitors for an equal payout.

    "After a successful first year hosting a pro category, we are excited to raise the bar once again," said Todd Sadow, President of Epic Rides. "Last year was a $20,000 purse. Now, in 2012 we are up to $30,000. This is among the biggest single day pro cash purse in the mountain biking worldwide," he said.

    2011 winners Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain) and Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) will return to defend their titles.

    "The "Whiskey" should be the template for every weekend mountain bike race in North America: Community, road closures, gnarly trail, flowy trail, rock, sand, music and views," said Sheppard.

    "It is so inspiring to find a community like Prescott that supports sporting events with so much enthusiasm and has a genuine interest in promoting the growth of trail riding and active lifestyles both for their residents and visitors," said Catharine Pendrel, who finished as runner-up in the women's race in 2011.

    Epic Rides anticipates 1,750 riders (1,600 amateurs and 150 professionals) participating in three days of racing, riding and celebrating all things mountain biking. At 5,400 feet elevation, Prescott offers crisp spring mornings with daytime temperatures in the mid-70s.

    Historic Prescott, Arizona looks much like it did in the 1870's, when it was named capital of the Arizona Territory. The same courthouse stands in the town square to host vendors and live music during the Whiskey Off-Road weekend. Adjoining "Whiskey Row," so named for revelry in the 1800s, once boasted no less than 40 saloons. Now, more than 100 years later this infamous strip of downtown...

  • iXS European Downhill Cup will finish off in Châtel

    Miriam Ruchti races in Pila Gressen, Italy
    Article published:
    September 14, 2011, 20:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Sixth and final round happening this weekend

    The sixth leg of the iXS European Downhill Cup will take place this weekend in Châtel, France. Following the World Cup finals and the world championships, it will be the last race in the European Series, marking the end of the international 2011 downhill season.

    After pitching its tents at the prestigious bike parks of Monte Tamaro in Switzerland, Todtnau in Germany, Leogang in Austria, Spicák in Czech and Pila in Italy, the series will celebrate its finale in Châtel. The village is located in the Portes du Soleil region and, together with Leogang, is the oldest Cup venue.

    This year the course, challenging as ever, will host the fight for the last points for the fourth time. The starting list promises top level riding.

    Australian Joshua Button (SC-Intense) currently leads the overall rankings in the elite men's category with 559 points, closely followed by Austrian Markus Pekoll (MS Evil Racing) with 525 points. New Zealander Brook MacDonald (MS Evil Racing) is in third with 373 points. If four results are included only (the worst seeding run and final run will not count) then the standing looks different, with Pekoll (489) leading ahead of Button (463) and MacDonald (373). So all three still have a shot at the overall win, whereby in realistic terms a duel between the Austrian and the Australian is more likely.

    The following riders could also theoretically snatch third place from MacDonald: Slovenian Nejk Rutar (Unior Tools), Swiss Dominik Gspan (EWZ Mountainbiketeam Loop), Czech Adam Vagner (RockMachine) and German Marcus Klausmann (ATG Ghost)

    In the elite women's category, it was already clear after the penultimate race of the series in Pila that Swiss Miriam Ruchti (SC-Nukeproof) was the overall winner. She could be joined on the podium by compatriots Emilie Siegenthaler (Scott 11) and Carina Cappellari (iXS Sports Division/Yeti) or German Harriet Rücknagel (OnTheEdge). These three will have to...

  • Four new inductees for Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

    Pete Webber enjoys an apertif.
    Article published:
    September 14, 2011, 22:00 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Newest members become official at Interbike

    The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame is inducting four new members today at the Interbike Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada: Bob Allen, Patrice Drouin & Chantal Lachance, Pete Webber and The Laguna Rads.

    The names Patrice Drouin & Chantal Lachance may ring a bell to mountain bikers who follow the World Cup circuit. The two Canadian promoters are behind the 20-year-long run of elite-level events at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec, Canada. Their organization, Gestev Event Management, has hosted World Cups and world championships longer than any other venue, and its most recent Worlds in 2010 was considered by many to be one of the best yet. The organization regularly wins awards for its top notch event promotion.

    Cyclingnews readers may recognize Pete Webber's name as he authored the TransAlp stage race blog this summer. He is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for his years of advocacy work with the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). He worked for 12 years as its membership and communications director to improve mountain bike access and trails nationally and internationally.

    Bob Allen has contributed to the sport with his photographs and his advocacy work. He spent the 1990s shooting World Cup and NORBA races in North America and Europe before switching to covering adventure, travel and the bike industry. More recently, he founded the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance and has been working on advocacy...

  • Schurter selected to Swiss 2012 Olympic team

    Nino Schurter (Switzerland) races to a silver medal in Champery at the Worlds
    Article published:
    September 15, 2011, 16:37 BST
    Cycling News

    Former world champion first rider named

    Switzerland has selected its first mountain biker for the 2012 London Olympic Games, with Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) getting the prestigious call up. The Swiss Cycling Federation assured Schurter a place on the men's cross country mountain bike team by virtue of his recent success at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

    Swiss Olympic selection committee president Gian Gilli said Schurter, 25, has proved he can win medals at big events. Schurter earned selection by taking silver in the world championships this month at Champery, Switzerland, earlier this month.

    This season, Schurter also finished second overall in the UCI World Cup. He was the Elite men's cross country world champion in 2009. He competed in the 2008 Olympic Games, where he won a bronze medal.

    Being selected to the Swiss Olympic team will come as a big relief to Schurter who will not have to engage in a very competitive selection process for one of the toughest Olympic teams in the sport. Instead, he will be able to focus solely on his preparation for the Olympic Games.

    Others riders still vying for selection include mountain bikers such as Lukas and Matthias Flückiger (Trek World Racing), former cross country and current marathon world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized), Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower) and Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida). Thomas Litscher (Felt Ötztal X-Bionic), the newly crowned Under 23 champion is another rider to watch.

  • High school racing continues to grow in United States

    Boys High School Champ, Eric Carlson (Helena Dynamos).
    Article published:
    September 15, 2011, 21:38 BST
    Cycling News

    NICA announces expanded mountain bike programs

    The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) announced expansion plans featuring two programs while at Interbike in Las Vegas, Nevada this week. The American organization behind high school racing launched a new program called the 50-State Coach and Club program and announced a new league.

    The 50-State Coach and Club program is the most far-reaching program yet. "With the 50-State Indie Club program, we are excited to reinstate our ground-up approach to creating leagues, which originated in 1998 when four students responded to a school bulletin. This was the foundation of the Berkeley High School Mountain Bike Club, which grew into the NorCal League," said Matt Fritzinger, NICA's executive director.

    In recent years, coaches with the desire to set up a high school team in their state have had to wait for the formation of a league and then become a member of it before obtaining their NICA Coaching Licence. The Indie Club program now enables coaches to acquire the coaching licence, one component of which is attending a NICA Leaders' Summit, and then they are able set up an independent high school mountain bike club without the requirement of an existing NICA league.

    The intense activity in forming new leagues is fueled partly by highly positive feedback from participants in existing leagues. Statistics from a 2011 survey of NICA athletes suggest the following:

    - 97 percent of non-graduating student-athletes intend to participate again next year. 93 percent encourage their friends to join.

    - For 26 percent of NICA student-athletes, 2011 was their first year of riding. 65 percent have been riding for less than three years.

    - 89 percent of NICA student-athletes ride year-round. 99.5 percent think they will continue to ride throughout their lives. 98 percent of parents think their child will ride throughout their lives.

    - 84 percent of student...

  • Carey and Tanguy win National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series

    Amanda Carey (Kenda / Felt)
    Article published:
    September 19, 2011, 15:07 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Final standings released

    Amanda Carey (Kenda) and Christian Tanguy (Team CF) finished up the 2011 Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series with overall victories. Organizers released the final series standings late last week.

    Carey won six races throughout the season including Cohutta, Syllamo's Revenge, Lumberjack, High Cascades, Pierre's Hole and the Park City Point 2 Point. That gave her a perfect score in the series since the top four results count. Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) was second in the series with three wins and a second place while Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) claimed third with three seconds and one third place.

    Tanguy and Jeff Schalk (Trek) tied in points due to each winning at least four rounds, but Tanguy took top honors after beating Schalk at the Shenandoah Mountain 100, which served as the series finale. Tanguy won the Cohutta, Syllamo's Revenge, Lumberjack, Fool's Gold and Shenandoah Mountain while Schalk won the Mohican, Breckenridge, Wilderness, Pierre's Hole and Fool's Gold. Between them, they won every race but two. Josh Tostado (Bach Builders) was third with two second places, two thirds and a fifth place.

    Gerry Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes/Pro Bikes) dominated the singlespeed category by winning an impressive nine of 12 possible races. Matthew Ferrari (Hubcap/Freeze Thaw Cycles) finished second while Jason Pruitt (29ercrew, LAS, Hodson Bay) was third.

    In the masters category, Doug Andrews ( took top honors with five series wins. Robert Herriman (Trek 29Er Crew/WSC/Acfstores.Com) was second with three wins and one second and one third place while Roger Masse (Trek 29er Crew) claimed third with one win, three second places and a third.

    Stay tuned for interviews with the men's and women's series winners coming up as well as information on the 2012 NUE Series.

    National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series final standings (includes all finishers of four or more events)

  • Mata caps off successful season with national victory

    Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) wins the US Marathon National Championships
    Article published:
    September 20, 2011, 20:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Sho-Air/Specialized rider takes first US marathon title

    Monique "Pua" Mata capped off a solid endurance mountain biking season by taking a solid win at this weekend's USA Cycling Marathon Nationals in Bend, Oregon.

    For Mata, who recently wrapped up the US Pro Ultra Endurance (Pro UET) series title and took a win at the Whiskey 50 in April, it was the crowning race of the 2011 US endurance calendar.

    The Sho-Air/Specialized rider defeated some heavy hitters in order to clinch the 2011 stars and stripes jersey, including two-time reigning marathon national champion Heather Irmiger and Giant's Kelli Emmett.

    "This is one race I hadn't won until now, and after having some problems at Leadville this year, I was really hoping I could have a good race," said Mata. "Winning over the likes of Kelli, Heather and Amanda (Carey), all who are excellent riders, made it even more special for me and the team."

    Mata took to the front early in the race, after she noticed a small gap developing over the her and Emmett. From there, Mata kept the hammer down and continued to distance herself from the chase group all the way to the finish. She set a fast time of 3:38:58 seconds, nearly five minutes over runner up Emmett and 10 minutes over last year's champion Irmiger.

    "It's a great way to cap off the season," said Mata.