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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Date published:
April 18, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • European masters mountain bike championships return to Slovenia

    A cross country racer in Slovenia
    Article published:
    April 12, 2012, 15:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Kranjska Gora hosting for its third time

    For the second year in a row and the third time ever, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia will host the European Mountain Bike Masters Championships. Downhill and cross country races will take place on June 22-24, 2012.

    Kranjska Gora is one of the leading Slovenian cycling centers with a mountain bike park and plenty of options for mountain and road cycling. The bike park on the slopes of Mount Vitranc will again host the championships in both disciplines.

    Downhill riders will go through the park's trails and will include some purpose-built sections. With some modifications, the course will be similar to the one from the 2009 European Championships.

    The cross country course was first introduced two years ago for the national championship race and then used again last year for the masters championships - it follows the trails of the bike park and includes some custom built sections.

    The biggest change from previous years is that the downhill race will now take place on Saturday (with the seeding run on Friday) and the cross country event will be held on Sunday. This change was made per the request of riders and to allow organizers to fit the entire event better in the programme.

    Riders from countries which are not members of European Cycling Union are also welcome to take part, but their names will not appear in the official results.

    For more information, visit

  • Next stop on the US Pro XCT: Ute Valley

    Mann all alone out front
    Article published:
    April 12, 2012, 19:24 BST
    Cycling News

    New venue will host round three of US National MTB Series

    The US Pro Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT) is on hiatus for a few months while top racers contest several rounds of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, but when the action resumes in the US national mountain bike series, racers will head to Ute Valley in Colorado Springs, Colorado for round 3.

    The Ute Valley race adds a new venue for the US Pro XCT. Colorado Endurance Sports is organizing the race, officially titled the 2012 Ute Valley Pro XCT Presented by Rotor Bike USA, on June 16-17, 2012.

    The Ute Valley venue will include a UCI-category 2 Pro XCT cross country, amateur cross country, kids, junior and short track races plus it will be the first-ever US Pro XCT round to offer an eliminator for the elite riders. The eliminator will be a world championship event for the first time in September of this year at the Worlds in Austria.

    This spectator-friendly course will start and finish on a dirt running track that encloses the Ute Valley Cycling Expo, which will showcase the latest in cycling equipment, apparel and accessories.

    Ute Valley is a mountain bike venue filled with tight twisty singletrack, short steep climbs, and speedy, rocky descents. At 4.5 miles in length, the course will include a mix of open doubletrack suitable for passing, as well as technical riding that should prove fun to ride and watch. The course is at 6100 feet of elevation and has 344 feet of climbing per lap.

    Two rounds of the the US Pro XCT have already happened at the Mellow Johnny's Classic in Texas and at Bonelli Park in California.

    For more information, visit

  • Simmons heading to BC Bike Race

    Wade Simmons on the trail
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 11:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Freerider to leverage cross country, downhill background

    Wade Simmons is stoked to be putting BC Bike Race on his 2012 calendar. The Rocky Mountain Bikes rider is known for his good nature and amazing skills as the Godfather of Freeride. He solidified this position with his win at the inaugural and prestigious RedBull Rampage in 2001 and took home second place in 2002.

    What is less known about Simmons are his passion for all things two wheeled and his background in cross country racing; with a childhood spent in BMX, he segued naturally onto mountain bikes and raced cross country until 1995 on the local British Columbia Cup and West Coast Canada Cup circuit.

    "Wade brings a culture of positive cycling that many others try to emulate, he is the consummate sportsman. One of the big differences between Wade and the world is simply his attitude, no matter what the weather or the terrain is like, he is having a great time! This is a large part of what BC Bike Race is all about, and we know he’s going to rip-it-up with a smile on his face," said BC Bike President Dean Payne.

    With the addition of the gravity enduro Segments for 2012, Simmons has his sights firmly set on a target but won't miss out enjoying any of the other singletrack on the way to the finish line. "Probably, one of the events I'm looking forward to the most this year, is racing the BC Bike Race. It's been on my radar since its first year running, and being such good buds with Dean Payne and Andreas Hestler, I've always had to field the 'why don't you ride the race you wimp!'."

    "But if truth be told, I've probably haven't been fit enough to enjoy all the buff singletrack you get to experience, at least at a decent pace anyhow. So, this year I'm determined to come out swinging, and hopefully push my brother-in-law/masters cross country champion partner Mike Hunter out of his comfort zone. At least I know I can do this on the 12 gravity enduro stages- as long as I have some gas in the tank," said a relaxed Simmons.

  • Swenson, Ettinger excel at Houffalize World Cup

    Junior men's podium: Andri Frischknecht, Romain Seigle, Keegan Swenson
    Article published:
    April 16, 2012, 19:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Success of young Americans bodes well for future

    Two younger Americans raced to impressive performances at the second round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium this weekend. First-year elite rider Stephen Ettinger (BMC) was the top-placed American in the elite men's race while Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing) made the podium in the junior men's race.

    "It was a cold overcast day and the race was run over a course that had many sharp climbs and technical drops with a very circuitous lap that felt like a long cyclo-cross course," said USA Cycling Mountain Bike and Cyclo-cross Director, Marc Gullickson. "Very large fields representing the strongest riders across Europe and the world were on hand for this classic Belgian World Cup."

    Racing on Sunday morning before the elite contests, Swenson, 18, earned the bronze medal in the junior men's cross country. It was the only US medal won during the weekend. The Utah native held the lead heading into the final lap until he fell victim to the soft course and was passed by French and Swiss riders.

    "I felt strong, and thought that the course suited me well," said Swenson. "I'm way stoked with my finish and hope I can improve on it next time!."

    A bit later in the day Ettinger, 22, proved that his solid performance in his elite debut in South Africa's round one was no fluke, this time turning the top American result in the elite men's cross country contest. Finishing in 36th place of 166 starters, he crossed the line just over six and a half minutes behind winner Julien Absalon...

  • Bresset feeling better in Houffalize

    Julie Bresset (BH - SR Suntour - Peisey Vallandry)
    Article published:
    April 17, 2012, 16:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchwoman happy with second in latest World Cup round

    Julie Bresset (BH - SR Suntour - Peisey Vallandry) continued ramping up her form this season with a second place finish in the elite women's cross country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium on Sunday. Last year's World Cup winner had finished fifth at the opening round in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa last month.

    "I wanted to be first, but given the difficulty of the course you could not hide," said Bresset on her website. "It had been a week since I felt good on my bike, and there were workouts I could not do. I wasn't having fun. I didn't necessarily target a particular placing; I just wanted to have a good race."

    In 2011, Bresset won the U23 world championships and the elite World Cup. This season, she is a first-year elite racer.

    Bresset and the other women raced in front of huge crowds on a new course at a classic venue in Houffalize. The course was packed onto one hillside and included very steep climbs and descents and an extremely twisty route.

    Early in the race, the French woman positioned herself in the top five and by the end of the start loop, she and eventual winner and reigning world champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna) were together. The two would battle throughout the race.

    "I gradually moved into the lead at the end of the start loop. I felt good and I wanted to widen the gap at the start of the first round."

    On the third lap, Pendrel accelerated, and Bresset could not...

  • Countdown to the US Grand Prix of Mountain Biking

    Jill Kintner (USA) Team Norco International
    Article published:
    April 17, 2012, 19:10 BST
    Cycling News

    First round kicking off in Port Angeles

    The 2012 US Grand Prix of Mountain Biking (MTB GP) is set to make its official debut in less than two weeks in Port Angeles, Washington. From April 26-29, the MTB GP, in conjunction with the NW Cup, will host round one of the newest national-level downhill series. The race also doubles as round 1 of the US Pro Gravity Tour (Pro GRT), a downhill national series run by USA Cycling.

    Top domestic and international mountain bike racers will their skills on some of the toughest downhill mountain bike tracks that the United States has to offer. Port Angeles has been the official start to the US gravity season for the past several years.

    The Port Angeles MTB GP has attracted an international compilation of the some of the world's top gravity racers including reigning US national series champion Cody Warren (DRD Intense), current World Cup downhill champion Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing), Greg Minnaar and Josh Bryceland (both Santa Cruz Syndicate), Mick Hannah (Morewood United), Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) and justin Leov (Trek World Racing).

    The MTB GP official kickoff party will be held on Friday evening at the Vern Burton Gym, with a raffle and "Strength in Numbers" movie premiere.

    The series will continue with round 2 at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont on June 16-17; round 3 at Highland Bike Park in Northfield, New Hampshire on July 7-8 and round 4 at the Stevens Pass Resort in Skykomish, Washington on August 4-5.

    For more information, visit or

    Confirmed Teams and riders for US GP of MTB round 1

    DRD Intense
    Cody Warren
    Austin Warren
    Jason Memmelaar

    Trek World Racing
    Aaron Gwin
    Justin Leov
    Neko Mulally

    Santa Cruz Syndicate
    Greg Minnaar

  • Pros flock to Whiskey Off-Road

    Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Roxracing)
    Article published:
    April 17, 2012, 21:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Updated with video: A roster of gunslingers and gamblers announced

    The 2012 Whiskey Off-Road, scheduled for April 27 - 29, is shaping up to be an old west kind of showdown. With Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek), Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) and Conrad Stoltz (Specialized) in the men's category, and Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek), Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Chix) in the women's category, both fields will be packing serious heat.

    Total registration is near its capacity of 1750, with 110 of those being pros, thus setting the weekend up for a showdown kin to that of Whiskey Row's heyday as the quintessential old west town inhabited by unruly gunslingers rivaled only by more unruly gamblers, and the law. $30,000 in cash is up for grabs.

    The women's field will nearly double year-on-year with 32 registered riders. In addition to those already mentioned, returning champions Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joes) and Monique "Pua" Mata (Sho-Air) are confirmed to toe the line, plus Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Chix), Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles) and Kelly Boniface (Moots Cycles, Honey Stinger) will also be in attendance and gunning for the top rung of the podium.

    Of the 78 men registered to race, more key talent includes returning champions Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) and Andy Schultz (Kenda-Felt-Hayes), plus former top finishers Carl Decker (Giant Bicycles), Colin...

  • Gallery: Fontana and Fumic lead Cannondale Factory Racing to success

    Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    April 18, 2012, 19:38 BST
    Cycling News

    Team wins its first-ever World Cup

    After a successful start to the 2012 UCI MTB World Cup, the Cannondale Factory Racing team proved to be in good form at round 2 in Houffalize, Belgium by winning the team ranking. A third place by Marco Aurelio Fontana combined with a fifth by Manuel Fumic and a 17th by Martin Gujan secured the first-ever team category World Cup win for CFR.

    Fontana, who finished ninth in Pietermaritzburg, rode the race he wanted to Houffalize. "All in" was his motto, and that's precisely what he did by finishing third after riding most of the race alone about 20 seconds behind the leading duo of Julien Absalon and Nino Schurter.

    "Wow, what a race on historical ground in Houffalize," said Fontana. "I was really strong, but was not in the front yet when [race-winner Julien] Absalon and [Nino] Schurter broke away. I rode consistently behind them with a 20-second gap. One might think I spent too much energy in chasing the leaders, but in fact I was happy to be alone to ride my own rhythm."

    "I pushed where I was strong and recovered in other parts of the course. Our support crew helped me out a ton by giving me information all race long about the gap growing or getting smaller. Big thanks to everybody involved in this, I think it was a great show for our sport," Fontana said after the podium.

    Fumic started the race with a high pace in the first two laps, recovered for two more, and put in a strong last lap to ensure a top result.

    "I felt good all week but was not 100 percent sure if it would be enough to finish on the podium. But when I realized in the start loop that my legs were there I just kept...